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Not a Portly Plumber but an Icon: What Makes Mario so Super

Nintendo’s Super Mario is the iconic game character. Back in the 90s, he was more familiar to children than Mickey Mouse.

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Nintendo’s Super Mario is the iconic game character. Back in the 90s, he was more familiar to children than Mickey Mouse. Today, he’s the head of a franchise that’s seen over half a billion sales and over twelve billion dollars (adjusted for inflation) in gross sales. He’s an icon whose popularity has exploded since his introduction in 1981’s Donkey Kong. His brand has gone everywhere: games, comics, TV shows, the Olympics, and, soon, even as a Theme Park and movie. He’s universal.

But, what makes Mario so popular, so easy to market for Nintendo? Why is he so incredibly versatile? The answer, as it were, lies deep within his history, his design, and the draconian policies underlying Nintendo’s iron grip over their IPs.

His Mustache

No kidding. From the time where he was a measly 208 square pixels, to his modern incarnations, Mario’s mustache stands out as his most defining feature. Its cartoony, almost cloud-like shape make it iconic. Replicated in art, even by itself, it is still, obviously, Mario’s mustache. Arguably one of the most famous pieces of facial hair in commercial history, it augments Mario’s look in a way that no other aspect of his appearance does. He’s changed his outfit, hat, and even his body in previous adventures, but, through all of his iterations, his mustache has remained.

From the NES, to the SNES, the Nintendo 64 and beyond, Mario’s mustache has remained an indelible part of his character, the most recognizable aspect of his outfit and an enduring part of his persona. In some ways, the mustache makes the man in Mario’s case.

Super Mario Odyssey

He’s changed many times over, but Mario’s mustache has remained a staple of his appearance.

His Approachability

Except for Kirby, whose pink, marshmallow-like complexion makes him perhaps the most huggable character in Nintendo’s history, Mario is as sweet and approachable of a character as the Big N has in its archives. His round features, cartoony-design, good nature, and aforementioned mustache make him feel natural both to gamers and non-gamers alike. A relic of an era where company mascots needed to be instantly marketable to children and adults alike, Mario’s non-intimidating, non-threatening, he’s not even remotely aggressive. He’s relaxed and jovial, no matter who’s behind the controls.

Unlike some of Nintendo’s other recognizable characters who fit neatly in one genre and are more niche (e.g. Link and Samus), Mario is recognizably normal. He’s not dressed to slay demon-kings or deliver justice to heinous space dragons, but he is dressed to appeal to everyone. His design, rather than feeding off the necessities of his games’ often-nonexistent plots, feeds into them. He has a universally-appealing design.

His Versatility

That flexible universality allows Mario to fit into a variety of adventures. From traditional platformers, to sports games, and even turn-based RPGs, Mario’s design allows him to fit nearly anywhere. Because Nintendo is, unlike with other series, willing to experiment with what Mario can and cannot do, he can run, jump, and hammer his way through nearly any obstacle. Such canonical flexibility allows Mario to serve in nearly any role. From baseball player to interdimensional savior, Mario’s been there and done it all.

This versatility, which some would call blandness, is actually Mario’s defining characteristic. By giving Mario this degree of built-in flexibility, Nintendo has given him the ability to transcend the very game of his inception. Unlike–say–Samus, who would look rather strange in a baseball or kart-racing game, Mario doesn’t have the baggage of a strong canon to stunt his outreach.

Mario Kart

Mario is the most versatile character in Nintendo’s arsenal of IPs, appearing in genres as diverse as kart-racing and RPGs.

His Games

This variety manifests itself in the different gameplay mechanics that Mario games have used over the years. From a water-powered jetpack to a hat that can take control of his enemies, Mario’s games have never shied away from allowing Mario to break the mold set by previous adventures. Unlike other series, like The Legend of Zelda or Metroid, the Mario series is able to succeed because it can constantly break its own mold, and evolve naturally into some of gaming’s greatest adventures.  

Nintendo’s iron-grip on the Super Mario IP since its disastrous deal with Philips in the 1990s has also helped. Absent the divisive games that other Nintendo series suffer from (e.g. Metroid: Other M and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword), Mario has been able to pull off year-after-year of incredible main-series additions and serviceable spin-offs. There have been Mario games that fail to meet expectations or that, when compared to his better entries, don’t stack up, but there has almost never been a game that is truly terrible.

Conclusions

Mario is, perhaps, gaming’s most recognizable icon. A relic of the dynasty Nintendo built during the NES and SNES years, Mario represents the greatest limit of Nintendo’s achievement. The incredible mindshare which he holds among gamers and non-gamers alike represents not only Nintendo’s incredible reach, but also the cultural relevance that games can aspire to when they make an indelible mark on an entire industry. It’s every game developer’s dream for their protagonists to become as popular as Mario. However, given the incredible combination of factors which makes him popular, it’s unlikely that anyone will approach his level of super anytime soon.

Although a gamer since before I can remember, there is not a better definition of me than these three words: Christian, moderate, and learner. I am steadfast in my Faith, my Beliefs, and in my Opinions, but I am always willing to hear the other side of the discussion. I love Nintendo, History, and the NBA. Currently a PhD Student at Liberty University.

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Watch the Trailer for ‘The Mandalorian’ the First Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Series

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Thanks to the arrival of the D23 Expo, Disney has revealed the first trailer for its long-awaited Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is set after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Pedro Pascal as a mysterious, gun-slinging Mandalorian bounty hunter who navigates the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

Along with Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian stars Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi. The first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

the mandalorian trailer

Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

Check out The Mandalorian trailer below.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Soundtrack Gets a Vinyl Release

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While we don’t publish music news or music reviews here at Goomba Stomp, we are huge fans of vinyl and since we cover film, we figured this announcement would interest some of our readers.

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele’s Get Out topped our list of the best films of 2017 and while the year isn’t yet over, there’s a good chance his follow-up Us, will land somewhere on our best of the year list as well. There are many reasons why we love Peele’s ambitious sophomore film including for the suspense, cinematography, performances, and direction, but one thing that doesn’t get enough praise is the soundtrack by Michael Abels. And if you like us, love the original score, you’re going to love this bit of news.

After giving his Get Out soundtrack a vinyl release last year, Jordan Peele is now doing the same for the soundtrack to Us.

WaxWork Records announced the news earlier today and if you’re planning on buying a copy, you don’t have to wait since it is now available to purchase through the label’s website.

The soundtrack, which received a digital release earlier this year, features composer Michael Abels’ score, in addition to songs from Janelle Monáe, Minnie Ripperton and the “Tethered Mix” of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” that appeared in the film’s first trailer. The album artwork was created by illustrator Edward Kinsella and features an interactive die-cut mirror board back cover, a heavyweight art print and an exclusive essay from UCLA Professor, scholar, and activist Shana L. Redmond Ph.D.

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Trailer for the Twisted Dark Comedy thriller ‘Villains’

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Alter has released the first poster and the official trailer for Villains, the upcoming dark comedy thriller which stars Bill Skarsgård (IT) and Maika Monroe (It Follows) as a couple who rob a gas station and scores enough cash to start a new life in Florida. Unfortunately for them, their getaway plans turn upside down and the young couple end up stumbling on much more than they bargained for.

Villains hits theaters on September 20th and was written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. In addition to Skarsgard and Monroe, the movie also stars Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s co-produced by Bron Studios, Star Thrower Entertainment, Creative Wealth Media Finance, and The Realm Films. You can watch the trailer for Villains below.

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Beanie Babies: The Collectables with Heart

Toys We Love Spotlight

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For our Toys We Love Spotlight, I’m looking at one of my personal favourites: Beanie Babies. I had collected so many of these growing up, and households worldwide in the 90s and early 2000s were sure to have at least one Beanie Baby in their possession (was it even the 90s if they didn’t?). These plushie companions were cute, cuddly, and collectable, so it’s not a surprise that the Beanie Babies craze swept the globe, forcing parents and toy collectors everywhere to dig into their wallets.


Beanie Babies had a few aspects to them that made them stand out from your average plushie. Firstly, they did not have as much stuffing as most soft toys. Whilst some thought that this made them look cheap, it also made them light, posable, and gave them a realistic feel and look. The bear Beanie Babies were particularly good to pose, and this set them apart from run-of-the-mill teddy bears. Another element that made Beanie Babies more unique was their special tag. Each toy had a tag attached which had the toy’s name, date of birth, and a quotation etched inside. The former was something that could have been a risky choice, as although it wasn’t completely taking away the child’s choice of name — there was nothing stopping them from just calling their Beanie whatever they wanted — a pre-selected name can be difficult to sell, as kids can often take great pride and pleasure in naming their toys.

It was a great success, however, and worked as a nice finishing touch for the Beanie Babies, adding a dash of personality and flair (something much needed in the often critically over-saturated soft toy market), as well as making each Beanie Baby feel like their own creature with their own little stories. Adding to that was the wide variety of animals that were available, such as Tiny the Chihuahua, Pegasus the Unicorn or Swampy the Alligator. This means that the desires of each individual child or enthusiastic collector could be catered to (I myself favoured the dogs and bears).

The puppies were my Beanie Baby of choice. They were all such good boys and girls.

The Beanie Babies also had their own way of tackling difficult issues in society, showing them to kids through the guise of a soft toy. I’ll give you an example through my own experience: I had a Beanie Baby that (as odd as it may sound) gave me more of an understanding of the horrors of September 11th. Weird, right? Allow me to explain. I was only just nine years old on that now-historical day when the twin towers in New York were attacked and so many innocent people lost their lives. I had come home from school (it was afternoon time here in the UK when it happened), and I remember my mum watching it on television in complete shock. She had watched the whole thing whilst I’d been at school.

I didn’t really understand what was happening to be honest. Even when I was watching the repeats of the plane crashing into the side of the tower, I was somewhat oblivious the gravity of the situation (though as a nine year old child, I suppose I could be forgiven for that). The news continued to report the tragedy for a long time, and my school held assemblies to discuss the matter. I knew people had died, and that made me very sad, but I remember thinking that people died all the time, so why was this one incident reported on so much? About a month or so after, TY released three Beanie Babies as a tribute to those lost during 9/11. One of these was a Dalmatian Beanie Baby called Rescue, and I wanted him the moment I saw him, not really knowing the true nature of his purpose. My mum obliged happily, knowing what he represented. I remember taking my little Dalmatian with the red collar and American flag on his leg home and reading his tag. It read:

To honor our heroes
who lost their lives in the
national catastrophe that
took place on September 11, 2001.
We mourn for them and express our
deepest sympathy to their families.
God Bless America

Rescue the Dalmatian was joined by America the Bear and Courage the German Shepherd. The Beanies were a set of three released to honor those who perished in the tragedy of 9/11.

I found Rescue in my room recently, and the memories flooded back to me upon reading it again. I remember looking into all the acts of heroism and bravery after reading Rescue’s tag, and that’s when the situation really hit home to me. I looked into the stories of firefighters and first responders and those who had died, as well as all the search-and-rescue dogs attempting to save people among the chaos. As a child, it can be hard to see past your immediate opinion and truly consider the sheer weight of a situation, but with Rescue’s help, I was able to see just how this event was indeed very different to anything I had ever seen before, and how serious it was. It was the first time I felt like I was thinking like a grown up. I looked at the world differently from then on — obviously as I got older, but also from my ability to think harder and search deeper. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have even bothered if it wasn’t for Rescue reminding me of exactly how much was lost on that day.

Rescue, perhaps the goodest and bravest boy of them all.

Beanie babies will forever be ingrained in culture. They are still bought, sold and collected even now and will remain a timeless staple of most of our childhoods. They certainly are for me. Especially you Rescue, the bravest firefighting Dalmatian the world has ever known.

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‘Shenmue III’ Gamescom Trailer Details a Day in the Life of Ryo

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The original Shenmue games pioneered the open world genre, in part through their inclusion of many different minigames and side activities. The Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III looks to continue that legacy, as developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver have debuted a new trailer at Gamescom 2019 entitled “A Day in Shenmue.”

The developers provided the following description of the trailer via their latest Kickstarter update: “Exploring the town, playing minigames and battling! We hope it feels just how a Shenmue day should!” Sure enough, the footage showcases the series protagonist Ryo participating in a number of minigames, such as a boxing game and a pachinko machine. The end of the trailer also includes a good look at the series’ signature kung fu combat.

Beyond the new trailer, the Kickstarter update also noted that Yu Suzuki, the famed creator of Shenmue, will be present at Gamescom for autograph signings.

After numerous delays, Shenmue III will finally launch on November 19, 2019 for PS4 and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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Freelance Film Writers

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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