Best of ND 2010: Super Mario Rehab

Gather around children, for I have a cautionary tale to share with you. Woohoo!

By Adam Sorice. Posted 12/29/2010 16:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Mario and Toad doing an "exchange"

Best of Nintendojo 2010 Award Badge
This story was selected as one of our best from 2010. It was originally published on August 5, 2010 during Issue 9: Get Equipped.

This piece is a satire. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state those of Nintendojo or its affiliates– well, except the don’t do drugs part.

It was just one mushroom. That’s how it started.

But that’s how it always starts, doesn’t it? Just as things are going well, you let your guard down and begin to make errors in judgement. We’re all too aware of how recreational drugs can consume the lives of some of the world’s biggest stars but who really thought it would happen to the world’s favourite videogame hero?

Tonight, children, I share with you the cautionary tale that is the life of Mario, Nintendo’s superstar mascot and biggest semi-functioning drug addict. For while this notable Italian plumber maintains a clean persona, something Mary Kate Olsen may want to take notes on, Nintendojo can exclusively reveal the bleak and harrowing truth behind society’s most-loved moustached man.

Super Mushroom artwork

Mario began his career in humble beginnings, first taking to the stage as the ape-hating carpenter Jumpman in the arcade game, Donkey Kong. Subsequent games cast this innocent, fledgling star in a variety of roles that bear little resemblance to the icon we know today and included the original Mario Bros. Startlingly different to its dynamic sequel, the first appearance of the fraternal plumbing team that was Mario and Luigi saw the brothers heading into the sewers of New York to tackle a variety of disturbing monsters.

The game’s sequel, Super Mario Bros., was not only the game that changed video games forever but was also Mario’s first taste of the alien, ghoulish underbelly of fame. Compared to Mario’s past adventures, this title featured a terrifying and altogether far more magical world called the Mushroom Kingdom, an entire imagination away from the streets and sewers of New York that had been the backdrop of Mario’s previous adventures.

Here, Mario had access to all the latest legal highs available and even used them to help rescue Princess Toadstool. Using the Fire Flower, Power Star and Super Mushroom to tackle Bowser and his many minions, the protagonist plumber drew strength from the “medical power-ups”, as Nintendo described them in his contract, and saved the Princess and her Toad subjects.

Super Mario Bros. 3 artwork Tanuki Suit

But sadly these power-ups began to dominate Mario, becoming an integral part of the plumber’s daily life. Soon Mario didn’t need the Super Mushrooms to make himself appear bigger, he needed them to make himself feel bigger. Without them, how could he cope against the legions of enemies out to get him?

After the final night of programming for Super Mario Bros. ended, Mario trudged back to his trailer and fell off the wagon. Even when Luigi rushed to him and cradled his limp body on the floor, the disturbed plumber still writhed and shook in horror as he wailed through his utter agony, wanting for the simpler days when he felt pure.

Nintendo realised that they had gone too far and sent Mario off to a rehabilitation clinic until he had got clean. The rest of the cast and crew from Super Mario Bros. walked out on pre-production of the sequel when word spread of the star’s breakdown and progress on the sequel ground to a halt.

Desperate to maintain public excitement but lacking the cast or production staff required, Nintendo hurriedly sought out a game that could be branded as Super Mario Bros. 2. Dressing up alternative actors as Mario and his friends, Nintendo turned the Japan-only game Doki Doki Panic into the much-loved sequel to Super Mario Bros. as the company patiently waited for Mario to sort himself out.

Following his first stint in rehab, Mario returned to acclaim with the incredibly successful Super Mario Bros. 3. Traversing across seven foreign lands, Mario had the chance to experiment with a bounty of new stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens from across the globe, including the Super Leaf, Goomba’s Shoe and Tanooki Suit.

Dr. Mario artwork

Desperate to return to the satisfying world of drug culture, Mario learned from his previous mistakes and developed the ability to juggle both a hectic work schedule and his drug dependency, snorting a few grams of Koopa Shell or Carrot in between rehearsals or going out some weekends with his Metal Cap, looking for a good time.

In between his main adventures Mario also dabbled in various hobbies, looking for a productive pastime that would spare him from the drug-addled emptiness of his down time. Despite trying to heal the sick, creating a work of art and even having a bash at every sport known to man, Mario always managed to run into his old master, the desire to get high.

His short-lived career in medicine as his more respectable persona, Dr. Mario, ended when allegations of an addiction to prescription painkillers hit the newsstands whereas a sequel to Mario Paint always proved challenging due to his taste for Absinthe. A promising career in either golf or tennis was also shelved after Mario was banned from competitive play due to a positive result in numerous drugs tests. And that, children, is why we never saw another sequel to either Toadstool Tour or Power Tennis.

However, Mario couldn’t maintain this destructive lifestyle and soon he slumped into the deepest low of his career, signing autographs in the shady backstreets of Pipe Alley and making back to back Mario Parties in exchange for the ‘shrooms. Mario needed reminding of the glory days and Nintendo had just the plan: Super Mario Sunshine.

Super Mario Sunshine artwork of Shadow Mario

It was time for Mario to have a comeback that would rival any of Whitney Houston’s (except the last one) and Nintendo needed both Mario and this latest game to be a success for the sake of the company. Nervous at the thought of putting a washed-up junkie at the helm of Nintendo, executives decided to send a handler along with Mario, just in case. This one-man support system would care, nurture and protect Mario from his past troubles, allowing him a chance to recharge his batteries and get clean on his island getaway.

Shortly after arriving on Isle Delfino Mario was introduced to F.L.U.D.D., the Formerly Luigi Usurping Drug Dispossession unit, before embarking on his mission to save Princess Peach and find himself again. Sadly, the trip didn’t go to plan and Sunshine proved to be Mario’s most warped and drug-addled adventure to date.

Trapped on an island inhabited by colourful, deformed monsters, the pudgy plumber was overwhelmed by visions of impossible, kaleidoscopic floating realms, hallucinations of gruesome doppelgangers of himself and flashbacks to the much-loved pet dog he had shot dead on his roof six years before, Yoshi.

Super Mario Bros. sprite artwork upside down Mario

And despite the recent success of Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel, Mario is still as dependent on his supplements as ever. After the final shoot was completed for Galaxy 2, Mario returned once again to his permanent support complex in the rolling hills of the Mushroom Kingdom. Here medical staff look after the troubled and shaken star, preventing prevent him from putting his life into further jeopardy in-between games.

Until the time comes for his daily medical examination, when the straitjacket restraints are tightened and the doors are locked. Mario shakes and struggles to escape as a nurse that looks suspiciously like Waluigi in a dress approaches him while brandishing a giant needle. Only a howling, exaggerated faux-Italiano scream can be heard from the patient’s room until the shrieking dies down into a low, murmuring sob of loneliness and desperation.

So remember, kids — don’t do drugs!

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