Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Princess is in Another Castle

As I type this, I'm watching a close friend die repeatedly in a video game.  Said close friend is playing the part of a rather portly mustachio-ed and overall-ed plumber who remarkably has the ability to jump to obscene heights and float through the air, spit fireballs after eating flowers, and grow to enormous sizes with the ingestion of mushrooms.  There's a beautiful fairy princess in a pretty pink dress who is inexplicably interested in the hairy, rotund plumber, and that's who the plumber is chasing.  Seriously, I had friends in college who had acid trips like this.  So did the Beatles.  When did this become mainstream video-gaming?

Mario serves the purpose of teaching kids about persistence, I guess... if you die again and again and again, the secret to success is just to keep trying. That's good; I like that. Unfortunately, he also teaches kids to be players, and not in a good sense.  Last time I checked, he had two princesses and a seriously hot chick named Pauline in his little black book, simultaneously.

I'm not sure what all these gorgeous ladies see in him, other than his never-ending patience with constantly rescuing them.  And if they didn't have any interest in the portly plumber, maybe that would stop the endless string of abductions from the likes of Donkey Kong, Bowser, Wart, Lord Blek, Cackletta, Fawful, et. al. (and yes, I had to look up most of the names on one of the many, many wikis out there. Scary.)  For some reason all of these villains think that the best way to annoy Mario is to kidnap one of his many girlfriends.  Me, I'd just do it what I call The Ismael Way: find a big pointy stick and whack him with it.

They say you can tell a lot about a person by how they react to a crisis situation.  You'll either see the best or the worst of people in the scariest possible moments.  If the building's on fire, will you help the little old lady out, or push her aside to get to the door (here's looking at you, George Costanza!)?  If your grandmother wants to take a plane trip to Florida and you're a multi-bazillionaire, do you take her yourself or put it off for a decade or so until Oprah agrees to pay for it (here's looking at you, Kenny Chesney!)?  If your friends are in trouble, do you help them out, or do you abandon them?  How do you deal with problems?

Well, in Mario's case, you deal with your problems by either jumping on their heads, or bashing them with a hammer.  Repeatedly.  Which, I admit, is kind of cool in a way, but it's not exactly the best long-term problem solving method (and eventually your hammer or your shoes will break).  And it doesn't help if all of Mario's friends think he's really great because he jumps on things and hits them with hammers: they're just enablers.  

Lots of kids love Mario, but you know, I'm just not sure he's all that great of a role model.  I think I've already discussed his cruelty to animals and his tendency to antagonize innocent apes (checking... yup, I have, right here:, and I just mentioned his womanizing ways.  There's also the fact that he cheats at every single sport he's ever played.  Want to play baseball with Mario?  He's going to use controlled illegal substances (like mushrooms) to boost his performance.  Want to play tennis with Mario?  Watch out that he doesn't set the ball on fire first.  Want to race him in a go-kart?  Prepare to have him chuck turtle shells at you while you're driving.  Seriously. Turtle shells.

I seem to be that very rare breed of video gamer who enjoys video gaming, but doesn't really care for the big fat Italian fungus addict. Just don't tell my godsons.  They'd probably disown me.  I wonder how my own boys will feel about them?

Which reminds me:  Debby has also vetoed Mario, Luigi, and Donkey Kong as possible kid names.  Maybe I should try Pac-Man?

No comments:

Post a Comment