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.

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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.

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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.

Lost his ticket on the 'Number 9' Luxury Express Train to the Ninth Underworld. Has been left to write articles and reviews about games to write off his debt until the 'powers that be' feel it is sufficiently paid.
  • At first, I had no interest in playing this game but after all the critical praise, it has moved to the top of my list of things to play, only I can’t play it until I get my Switch back.

    • James Baker

      I didn’t care for it at Gamescom but now I’m playing the full game it’s come together nicely.

  • Maxwell N

    Really love the core gameplay but I have to say, the “humor” of the game clashes with the tone Nintendo has worked so hard to set for Mario. I basically have to shut my brain off to get over the amount of cringe-worthy dialogue the game comes with. I mean, if the humor of the game was a bumper sticker for a car, it would be that Calvin peeing one.

    I really don’t think there’s any meta depth to it beyond what is shown on surface-level.

    But I am more than impressed with how they managed to make an XCOM-style game work. Really love the challenges, though I wish it was easier to get through them and navigate the maps. I think if this team at Ubisoft were to make a classic-style Mario Party game, it would be brilliant.

    • James Baker

      I think there’s an attempt to modernise Mario for a 21st century audience, and recent developments only solidify that.

      • Maxwell N

        I think Odyssey is the right direction for that. Maintain what makes Mario, well, Mario, but alter gameplay elements and such to appeal to a modern audience. Mario is a very specific brand that does not need to change its core values to work i.e. the identity. The identity already works.

        I’m not sure if cringy Minion-esque base comedy is what Mario needs. I only see it as hurting the brand’s identity.

        The gameplay aspect of Mario+Rabbids though, I am glad Nintendo let happen because it really expands Nintendo’s reach and really want them to give this team a go at things like Mario Party, like I said before.