Politicians in Videogameland

They either can’t get enough power, or don’t have any at all.

By Eileen Cullen. Posted 01/13/2012 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Because Nintendo has many unique franchises, nearly the full spectrum of political extremities is covered. Some scenarios are quite unrealistic and portray rulers that would, in today’s world, be leading a nation in shambles. Others are able to offer a more realistic view of politics, even when set in far-fetched environments and situations. Despite being set in fictitious places, there are concepts that can be identified and expanded to fit into the real world.

The world of Super Mario contains two very prominent figures of power: Princess Peach of the Mushroom Kingdom and Bowser, the King of the Koopas. Peach certainly lives the life of royalty (on the occasions when she isn’t kidnapped), hosting parties at her castle and traveling to various locations. However, despite her title, Princess Peach is clearly just a figurehead. While she is admired by the people of the Mushroom Kingdom, it’s evident that she doesn’t spend her time writing and enforcing laws, as Bowser’s minions do as they please. Meanwhile, Bowser is portrayed as having significantly more power than Peach, as he has hordes of Koopa Troopas at his command. He dominates them in terms of size and strength, thus relying on his own physical attributes to intimidate others into doing his bidding. This method is effective in terms of immediate results, but it could also lead to his undoing. Bowser would be in a lot of trouble if his Koopas decided that they had taken enough of his abuse. If there was a Koopa rebellion, Bowser would lose all of his forces and, as a result, almost all of his power.

Super Mario Sunshine Introduction
It doesn’t look like much governing is going on here.

The Animal Crossing franchise demonstrates the divisions of power on a much smaller scale. In both Animal Crossing: Wild World and Animal Crossing: City Folk, Tortimer is presented as the mayor of town. However, it soon becomes apparent that he doesn’t have much control over the daily happenings of the small village. He only steps out of Town Hall when there is a special event, such as the Flea Market or the Fishing Tourney. On most days, he simply sits at his desk, sleeping. While Tortimer may have the title of “mayor,” it is obvious that he is not the one in charge of the player or the rest of the town. The person with the real power operates a store, owns real estate and immediately forces the player into indentured servitude upon his or her arrival. That person is Tom Nook. He clearly demonstrates that, in Animal Crossing, a title means nothing without the resources to back it up, and Tom Nook has Bells to spare.

Animal Crossing: City Folk Mortgage paid off
Not for long.

Politics in Pokémon are unique in that they, for the most part, revolve around crime syndicates. Each organization strives to gain power though the abuse and exploitation of Pokémon. Even Team Plasma from Pokémon Black and White use Pokémon as a means to an end, despite their goal of liberating all Pokémon from humans. Despite the setting in the fantasy world of Pokémon, the actions of these organizations manage to communicate a very real truth. There are people today who are willing to harm and manipulate others for power, money and success. And if a ten year-old kid can take down an entire crime syndicate, then people today should be more willing to stand up for what they believe in, too.

The quirky world of Super Mario allows both the polar opposites of Princess Peach and Bowser to be represented in the same environment. Their methods of maintaing power, while very different, are both unrealistic and would eventually collapse if they were implemented in the world today. However, Animal Crossing and Pokémon both portray glimpses of reality. Animal Crossing demonstrates the power of consumerism and the harsh reality that those with greater wealth often have an easier time gaining influence and power. While it may be an easygoing and carefree franchise, realism can be found in some of its themes. Likewise, Pokémon deals with the fact that there are people in the world who want to hurt others for their own personal gain, and sometimes it takes an unlikely hero to stand up to them.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!