8 disturbing questions Mario Odyssey makes us ask
Fine Nintendo! You win! Mario isn’t his own hat. But I’m not ready to take off this tin-foil hat just yet. No, I’m going to put on even more tin-foil! I’m going to make a tin-foil suit of armor and plaster it to my body with cling wrap just to be sure, because while you may have clearly pointed out that Mario is a human, not a hat, you forgot that Super Mario Odyssey brings up so many other questions about the Mario universe.
Now you have me questioning what death or sentience even means in Mario’s world! Maybe you don’t even realize what a screwed up universe you have created. So before you go hand-waving away all the crazy theories about Mario’s strangely controversial nipples, maybe you can answer these pressing questions. Maybe then we can sleep at night after the horrors we have seen.
Are All Mario Collectibles the Same?
This is perhaps the least disturbing question that I’ll be asking today. When Mario visits the Mushroom Kingdom, he is able to find Power Stars instead of Power Moons. However, Cappy says that they are exactly the same thing. The game even references them as Power Moons, and when you put them into the Odyssey, they appear as moons, not stars.
So are all of Mario’s collectibles the same, and if so, could you use these moons to cast the same enchantments that were cast in Super Mario 64? Could you bring paintings to life and trap people inside them? Does this mean that New Donk City, which runs on a generator that needs to be fed a constant supply of power moons, is a city powered by magic?
For that matter, what happens to those Power Moons once they are drained of energy? Are they just discarded? Do they eventually recharge? Heck, why didn’t Mayor Pauline just give Mario the Power Moons he needed to get the Odyssey to fly directly to Bowser? New Donk City consumes moons at a rate faster than one moon per second. They must have millions of moons just waiting in storage below the city. In fact, New Donk City might be the single biggest power drain in the Mario universe.
What Really Happened in Super Mario 64?
In Super Mario 64 we are told that Bowser took the Mushroom Kingdom’s power stars and used them to bring paintings to life. He then sealed the residents of the Mushroom Kingdom inside the paintings and plans to turn them into monsters which will then overflow out of the paintings.
All of this made perfect sense until the events of Super Mario Odyssey, where it is revealed that these magical paintings are still present in the Mushroom Kingdom. There is only one problem. These paintings don’t transport you to a different magical world. Rather, they just teleport you to another kingdom.
How does this sync up with the story of Super Mario 64? Well, maybe we finally have an answer for why all the residents of a kingdom are mostly homogenous. Maybe living in a kingdom slowly transforms you into a species that is suited for living in that kingdom. That’s why we always see the same residents in the same places. Bowser must have wanted to send the residents of the Mushroom Kingdom to perilous worlds, much like his own, so they would turn into you standard Mario enemies, which he can then control. This must also be why travel is so rare in the Mario world, traveling to another kingdom risks giving up your very identity.
Are Goombas a Hive Mind?
So we already know that Cappy can let Mario take over the minds of his enemies. However, this becomes a little… weird when possessing an iconic Goomba. When controlling a single Goomba, it moves like you would expect. It can waddle around, maybe jump a bit, and that’s about it. The most spectacular thing about a single Goomba is that their feet don’t slip on ice.
The weirdness creeps in when you jump on another Goomba’s head. At this point, you immediately gain control of that second Goomba as well. Jump on yet another one and now you are controlling all three. Eventually you can stack up huge Goomba towers to get to platforms you wouldn’t normally be able to reach.
I want to make this clear; this isn’t some sort of friendly conversation. Mario isn’t just convincing these other Goombas to work with him. Enemy Goombas recognize the possessed Goomba as Mario. They attack it on sight! Even more disturbingly, they recognize the entire Goomba stack as functionally Mario and attack it as well, not just the Goomba wearing a cap.
We can only come to the conclusion that Mario is somehow controlling the entire stack of Goombas like some sort of local hive mind. We know that it’s only local because Goombas are able to act independently, so long as they aren’t in a stack. So maybe Goombas have some sort of neural interface on the bottom of their feet, so jumping on another Goomba’s head directly interfaces with that Goomba’s brain? This would explain why stacked Goombas still operate as a single unit, even when you stop possessing them.
It would also explain why they are so vulnerable to being jumped on. If their feet need to communicate directly with their brain, then it’s largely possible that they don’t have a skull, allowing brain contact directly through the skin. This is fine for the Goombas themselves, who are very light creatures, but when Mario stomps on their head, they flatten (once again due to the lack of skull) and their brain is destroyed.
Can Cappy Control the Dead?
In the Luncheon Kingdom, Mario needs to possess a giant uncooked slab of roast beef in order to reach a boss. The disturbing thing is, he can move it! This dead, inert, hunk of muscle from some gigantic beast comes to life right before our eyes. While it can’t do much because…it’s just a side of beef, it can twitch like some sort of horrifying zombie steak. Also, it has a moustache and hat.
For a long time we have colloquially said that Mario is taking over the brains of his possessed victims. However, it’s unlikely that this uncooked piece of meat has its own brain. If it does, that has its own terrifying applications. It means there is a race of meat people out there, and the members of the luncheon kingdom are content with cooking them alive.
It’s far more likely, however, that Mario isn’t interfacing with his victim’s brains at all. Instead, he is simply controlling them like a puppet, reminiscent of a poltergeist. Not only does this mean that his victims are likely conscious the whole time that Mario is controlling them, it means that they are actively struggling against his control only to feel their body move as if someone is forcefully pushing and pulling their limbs. It also means that Mario could, potentially, possess the lifeless body of any being in the Mario world. For that matter, any member of the Cap Kingdom could, which brings us to our next question.
Is the Cap Kingdom Invading the Rest of the Mario World?
Most of the NPCs that Mario interacts with are wearing hats. Mechanically, this means that Mario cannot possess them. In fact, it’s clear that hats are the last line of defense against being possessed, since any enemy that is wearing a hat has to have the hat knocked off first before Mario possesses them.
But how can we know that these hats are mundane? What if they too are members of the Cap Kingdom looking for hosts? We don’t see members of the Cap Kingdom in other kingdoms, and that should strike you as weird. The Cap Kingdom is the only kingdom we see with a thriving airship business aside from The Moon and Bowser’s Kingdom. In fact, it appears as if every single house in the Cap Kingdom is also an airship.
Shouldn’t we see members of the Cap Kingdom everywhere? We don’t, but there is something else we see everywhere: hats. Aside from main characters like Mario and Luigi, Mario characters weren’t known for wearing hats. However, nearly every NPC and most enemies are now wearing a hat of some sort. Maybe these hats are actually members of the Cap Kingdom who used their airships to head to other worlds and find suitable hosts. Heck, it’s possible that these hosts are, actually, dead bodies, resurrected specifically for the purpose of letting a Cap Kingdom creature walk, talk, and interact with the outside world normally.
This brings up further questions about the nature of hats in the Mario universe. Mario obviously wore a non-sentient hat before meeting Cappy, however it was unclear where he got it. In fact, it’s unclear where anyone gets any hat in the Mario universe. The only place that even has access to hat-making materials appears to be the Cap Kingdom. Is it possible that the normal hats people are wearing aren’t actually objects, but corpses? Is that what happens to Cap Kingdom residents after they die? Is every hat shop just selling the remains of a living being from the Cap Kingdom?
It would make sense right? After all, Cappy should just be able to possess other beings regardless of whether they are wearing hats. He could just sit on top of the hat that is already there, unless Cap Kingdom residents can effectively block each other’s possession to prevent warring over host bodies. If this protection extends to their inanimate corpses, then hats would be one of the most important pieces of armor in the Mario universe.
What's with all the vomit?
There is just a disturbing amount of vomit in Super Mario Odyssey. One of the Broodals uses vomit as its main attack, piranha plants vomit poison goop everywhere, and then there is the most disturbing vomit scene of all, the Luncheon Kingdom’s battle over a giant pot of stew.
The Luncheon Kingdom is known for its stew. In fact, their stew is so famous that Bowser stole a significant amount of it for his wedding. When you visit the Luncheon Kingdom, you get to see how this stew is made. Most notably, it’s heated using the natural lava that surrounds the kingdom. In fact, they actually put lava balls directly into the stew.
These lava balls appear to be alive, considering that they have eyes and Mario can possess them. So adding them to the stew isn’t all that weird. Imagine it as just another piece of meat to be added to the recipe.
What is weird, however, is the boss fight of the Luncheon Kingdom, which has Mario going up against a giant bird. This bird is also cooking a pot of stew atop the highest volcano in the kingdom, and you have to possess a lava ball to even get up there. When inside the stew, however, you have to fight the bird who attacks you by spewing vomit directly into the stew! It’s then that you realize this vomit is the same sort of lava that surrounds the kingdom which lava balls frequently swim in.
So is it possible that the secret ingredient for the most popular dish in the Mario universe is and always has been bird vomit? Is that was surrounds the Luncheon Kingdom? Molten hot bird vomit?
I think I’m going to be sick.
Is the Moon the Death Star?
When Mario is on the surface of the moon, he experiences low gravity, making for some amazing platforming sequences. When he falls underneath the surface of the moon, however, Mario’s gravity returns to normal. I tried to reconcile this change in gravity by thinking about how the core of the moon might be much denser than the surface, but that made little sense. The core of the planet would need to reach black hole standards, at which point the moon would just collapse in on itself.
So I tried to think about some other explanation, and the one I came up with is this: the “core” of the moon is rotating at a higher speed than the surface of the moon, and Mario is actually platforming on the outside, not the inside of this core. This increased spin would push Mario against the outside of the core due to centrifugal force.
This is made more plausible by the final scene of the game, which shows us that Mario is not just bursting through the moon’s crust, but rather is surrounded by unnatural looking cubes. When Mario finally sees an escape, he doesn’t simply push upwards; he escapes through a hole forwards using an electronic line. Mario’s orientation to the hole means that the platforms he has been running on aren’t necessarily parallel to the curst of the moon; hence they must have rotated at some point.
The bigger question is why there is an electrical conduit underneath the surface of the moon? In fact, why are there these strange corridors underneath the surface of the moon to begin with? My conclusion? The moon is artificial. Later in the game it is revealed that the moon is the home kingdom to the Broodals, and all rabbits. It’s entirely possible that they decided to hollow out the inside of their own kingdom in order to create a technologically advanced moon-sized space station. That would explain why they are also the only other race shown to have air-ship technology.
Is Mario A Sub-Species of Human?
Finally we leave you with another fun question regarding Mario’s humanity. While it’s been proven that Mario isn’t his own hat, and Nintendo has confirmed that Mario is human, the mysteries haven’t been completely solved. Why do Mario and Peach look so different from the humans in New Donk City? The answer? Sub-species.
Alright, so Nintendo has said that both Mario and the humans in New Donk City are the same species, but the New Donk humans are also referred to as another name, "New Donkers." This is not the first time we have seen other humans in the Mario universe. In fact, we have seen all variety of humans, from realistic humans to cartoony humans to humans drawn in anime style, throughout Mario’s many spin-offs and side games.
So it’s possible that humans evolved slightly differently throughout different areas of the Mario universe. The New Donkers don’t appear to be able to jump like Mario can. Mario’s short stature, light mass, and thick leg, arm, and core muscles likely make him the acrobat that he is. The more "normally" proportioned New Donkers are more built for their city lifestyle, in which technology does most of the work for them.
Think of these two humans as breeds of dog. They can mate, and they are the same species, but they are significantly different in appearance and physiology.
And that’s the thought we are going to leave you with ladies and gentlemen. Super Mario Odyssey has compared humans to dog breeds. Now the question is, what would the offspring of a Mushroom Kingdom human and a New Donker look like. Maybe a tall but still slightly cartoony human? Maybe like… Rosalina!?
Well that’s a theory for another time. For now, I need to try and figure out Sonic the Hedgehog’s role in the Sonic multiverse. Otherwise how can we explain Sonic Forces?