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As famous as Mario is, his fame has never been played upon in any of his games; the movie didn’t help much. However, in the opening scene of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, we witness the popularity of Mario in a unique way. The wacky storyline depicts an inventor who has built a pair of goggles which can fuse together two objects in its line of sight. Other than being a genius, she also happens to be a massive Mario fan. Her workshop is decorated with Mario posters and toys; as fabulous a taste in gaming as it gets.

As the Rabbids invade the workshop from their washing machine, the SupaMerge visa merges their world with the Mushroom Kingdom. Eventually, you have Rabbids with a Super Mario alter ego. This fusion highlights some of the imperfections of each Super Mario character, portrayed with some peculiar acting by a Rabbid. Peach Rabbid is one of the most interesting as she highlights some of the narcissistic traits we see so often in modern society; namely taking a selfie at every opportunity.

mario + rabbids
Selfies are a common theme in Mario + Rabbids.

Meeting more Rabbids on the way, the extreme personalities of their Super Mario persona becomes more noticeable, much like the daddy issues Bowser Jr. has. Mario + Rabbids have managed something truly unique, in which they have put Mario on a pedestal as the pop icon he has become. It’s not surprising that last week Nintendo revealed Mario is no longer a plumber, such fame wouldn’t keep a man in his day to day job. The attempt at humor doesn’t take away the conflict Mario now faces with his resurgence in popularity and the persona that made him popular originally.

If Mario is no longer the plucky plumber that goes to Bowser’s castle to save the princess, then what is he now? Princess Peach certainly has more independence than she did decades ago, and however the plot develops in Super Mario Odyssey, this isn’t the Damsel in distress Peach we grew up with. Society and attitudes have changed, and so has the Mushroom Kingdom with it. Mario + Rabbids has brilliantly highlighted the modernization of Mario and every character with him.

mario + rabbids
The new portrayal of Bowser Jr.

As for Rabbid Mario, well, he couldn’t be more opposite to the quietly heroic Mario we know from our younger years. Rabbid Mario seems to portray Mario as the hero we tend to see more often in movies, the badass who knows he’s a badass. The subtle parodies the Rabbids make of the Super Mario characters maybe aren’t parodied at all but a true reflection of what they’ve become.

Whilst Mario + Rabbids is a tactical brilliance, combining the unique Super Mario personality with an X-Com turn-based gun fight, it’s also opened up a conflict with ourselves about our hero. We will only know the true extent of the modernization of Mario from plumber to pop personality when Super Mario Odyssey is released this holiday season. What was once obvious is now tenuous, and it appears Nintendo is updating its image of Mario to fit a modern audience.


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