In a recent Waypoint Radio cast (108, I think), the hosts discuss some recent video game intros, including Super Mario Odyssey. That Bowser kidnaps Peach at the start of a Mario game is largely taken for granted and accepted as a minimal diegetic framing for the game’s platforming adventure and star collecting. Thus it is unsurprising that the archetypal damsel-in-distress trope was acknowledged as annoying and then dismissed in order to get to the interesting elements of the game. It led me to wonder about an alternative: what if Princess Peach kidnapped Bowser? The gameplay would largely be the same, except Mario would be tasked with seeking out Peach in order to stop her from exacting her torturous revenge. Toad or Baby Bowser might be the moral conscience who asks Mario to help save Bowser. I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on this or other alternatives to the traditional Mario narrative. What do you think?
I’ve always wondered if Peach is romantically interested in Mario. She mostly just invites him over for cake. I mean it could be a euphemism (hell ya) but…I think it’s just cake
Mario is clearly friend-zoned, lol
Yeah, there are a few games that turn the “damsel in distress” trope on its head. I’d definitely love to play some more, for whatever reason I really like playing the heroine in video games. Part of that is why I liked Remember Me, which is honestly not that great of a game (the art direction is fantastic, though).
For whatever reason it would feel weird to me if Mario wasn’t about saving the princess though. I guess I just grew up with that, and it’s how I see the series. It would be cool if they did change it up, though.
I don’t really know if the whole “Princess is captured by Bowser” thing has to be in Mario anymore. Mario’s entire life is centered around defeating Bowser anyways, so why does he need a motivation? Mario learns Bowser’s back and he dons his red cap for one last job, that’s all they need! Instead they hang onto the damn damsel in distress trope again and again.
I think it’d be actually interesting if Peach kidnapped Bowser, but I would assume they’d have to make another twist in it where Peach was actually kidnapped by some mind-altering goop from outer-space. So you think Bowser kidnapped Peach, go through the game, and then at the end it Peach turns around and her eyes are black and she’s floating or whatever. Then you have to team up with Bowser to defeat the true evil. Just make me another Mario RPG please, Nintendo.
Ya know, Peach spends Mario Odyssey wearing a relative of Cappy. Who’s to say she can’t have her own adventure taking place at the same time as Mario’s?
last time we got the focus on the princess we got super princess peach and that wasn’t a good look for nintendo at all
EXT. CAFE PATIO – DAY
It is clear and calm out. The endless bustling of NEW DONK CITY can be heard.
MARIO sits at a table, a CUP OF ESPRESSO before him and a CIGAR between his gloved fingers. He is at peace here, amongst the HUMANS and their city life.
TOAD approaches, holding a BRIEFCASE. They waddle stupidly to the small table and take the seat across from MARIO.
Mario. How’s it been ?
It’s-a good. It’s-a good. I’m less-a of a jumpman these days. More-a of a walkman. It’s-a nice. How’s…How’s-a PEACH ?
The princess is good. She’s safe, enjoying her cake. She misses you, by the way.
She-a sure has a funny way of showing it…
MARIO takes a drag from his CIGAR and casts a long gaze into the middle distance. He grimaces briefly, and lowers his gaze.
So why-a are we-a here, Toad ?
…Mario, we need you. Bowser…He’s back.
I-a said I was done. I live-a here now, in-a the New Donk City. I hate-a to say it, but The Mushroom Kingdom…Peach…It’s-a your problem now. There are like-a six million of you Toads, you don’t-a need one lousy plumber.
TOAD purses their gross lips, and reaches down for the BRIEFCASE. TOAD opens their BRIEFCASE and slowly pulls out something red…It’s MARIO’S HAT.
MARIO freezes, CIGAR halfway to his much nicer lips. He clearly MOISTURIZES.
My-a…M-m-my-a hat…I haven’t seen-a that in years…
TOAD holds the HAT out across the table, offering it to MARIO.
One last job, Mario.
MARIO pauses…and takes the HAT. The camera cuts to his BEAUTIFUL HAIR as he lowers the HAT onto his head.
I don’t think Mario could be the hero of that? Like I think he could be present and even one of the good guys but he can’t be the main character. Like maybe it is about Bowser Jr and Mario has a broken leg so he teaches Bowser junior jumping techniques. Or maybe it is a toad who knows something is up with peach and Mario agrees and travels with him but gets sick and can’t help. Or we can just go all the way and Mario is so dedicated to Peach that he is an out and out villain working against you in a sort of donkey Kong junior esque way.
While it’s an interesting idea, I doubt that this’ll actually happen because it messes with the character dynamics. Bowser being kidnapped by a bigger villain may be something that they might pursue (and Bowser as an ally/playable character is not unheard of in the Mario RPGs).
That said, I really enjoyed Odyssey’s whole wedding aesthetic. Mario’s endgame clothes look super good, for example. I think small twists like that are a good way of mixing up the formula without messing with the core concept.
Would you play as Bowser Jr. coming to save his dad?
I’d play that game.
You know, we’ve met the evil doppelgänger of Mario and Luigi, but not Peach.
The letter p upside down is a b … Princess Beach? She’s an evil interdemensional surfer that kidnapps Bowser. Possibly for ransom, Boswer does appear to be loaded.
we already have Donkey Kong Jr.
We need more games that cast Mario and Friends as villains.
Daisy is secretly the most evil person in all the Mushroom Kingdom.
I dunno, I think it would be cool to take a page from Adventure Time and have Princess Peach be a busy administrator who is more annoyed than anything when Bowser and Mario use her as an object in their own sublimated romance. After an intro cutscene where Peach tricks Bowser into kidnapping Waluigi, the game turns into an empire sim where you try to annex the Turnip Barony or whatever.
The arc of my interest and speculation about Princess “Peach” Toadstool throughout my life is strange and probably says more about me than how Nintendo handles narratives:
Child Xeneth was crushing on Peach in a vague unromantic and dutiful way because saving the princess was aspirational, it was the goal of the game and The Right Thing To Do. Getting a kiss on the cheek from royalty was so dreamy and good, and if that was enough reward for Mario than it was more than enough narrative for me.
Teenage Xeneth was deeply suspicious of Peach’s apparent lack of will to do anything about being kidnapped. The world had yet to demonstrate what victim blaming was, and I harbored wild speculation of disaffected royalty getting abducted for kicks and using the efforts of a hero to feel desirable as the ineffective ruler of a broken kingdom with no need for real leadership.
Current, Adult Xeneth is too busy thinking about the implications of Rosalina as a sort of caretaker Goddess that is surrogate mother to all of celestial matter and creation to really give a shit about Peach’s whole boring damsel situation.
One thing I’ve found kind of interesting is a lot of people who would place themselves within the Mario “fandom” seem to perceive the relationship between Mario, Peach, and Bowser, as one of kind of playful rivalry. I’ve seen some really adorable art of Bowser and Peach playing dress-up and having tea together. I really like this idea, and honestly kind of fits in with the fact that Super Mario Bros. 3 was actually a stage play. I haven’t played Odyssey, so I don’t know the twists it takes, but the wedding theme, while cool, comes off as weirdly… archaic as far as plots go?
I kind of like the idea of Bowser as a heel. Like, as a guy who is performing for an audience, and revels in the kind of extravagant evil he is partaking in, which is truly all in good fun. It’s all for show. Bowser definitely comes across more as a goofy wrong-doer than a genuine villain.
So in response the question, I think it would totally make sense to have this reversal come about. All of these plots are silly and goofy and are all for show, so why not? The only dilemma is that this really wouldn’t fit Peach’s character. Like, I know that saying she has a character is a stretch, but she does have a very clear way of acting in all the games. I actually think the ideal mode of this (like others were saying) would be in a Mario RPG or a Paper Mario. I mean, Bowser is already rarely the true antagonist in those games anyway. I can totally see the idea of a possessed Princess Peach or a nega-Peach capturing Bowser. (…Was this already in something? I bet it was.) I’d be down with it! All of these goofballs are friends, I think, so let them play around!
I think theres a Miyamoto interview out there where he basically says that it all actually is just a series of elaborate stage plays.
Like they’re all friends part of some big circus troupe or something who like to drive cars and play tennis in their downtime.