Hey, I’m back! I said I’d be posting more, and I am indeed a Terran of my word. Unless it’s too inconvenient. But this is pretty easy, so here I go.
I’ve been playing Mario Strikers Charged on Wii lately. It’s a great game. I am not a sports guy in any sense. I don’t play sports. I don’t watch sports. I don’t even play sports video games. Well, not normally.
Before the Wii, my two favorite sports games were Mutant League Football and Tiny Toon Sports. Both were for Sega Genesis, so that should give you an indication of how rarely I play sports games, even weird ones.
A big part of the appeal of sports games is the atmosphere. As a non-sports guy, when I see people in football uniforms or baseball jerseys, it just doesn’t catch my attention. It just looks generic. This isn’t a flaw in the game, more of a personal perception.
But with Mario Power Tennis or Mario Strikers Charged, I get full fledged characters. The games are fun to play, no doubt, but there’s also a lot of personality going on. I love playing Bowser, which really shouldn’t be a surprise with my love of monsters. He’s the big villain of the Mushroom Kingdom, but that basically makes him a tempermental jerk. He might kidnap Princess Peach every other weekend, but nobody really seems to hold that against him. At least, they let him into their tennis tournaments and go kart races. But maybe that’s just because the people of the Mushroom Kingdom are jovial and forgiving.
Regardless, I love to make up little stories in my head as I play these games. I spent hours playing doubles tennis, teaming me as Bowser with Mario and thinking how if only these two guys could learn to get along, there’d be no stopping them. If I’m Princess Daisy and I’m against Princess Peach, I want to win. No, check that. I NEED to win. Because this is my chance to step out of Peach’s shadow and show her who is boss.
Strangely, when I’m Luigi and I’m up against Mario, I don’t have the same attitude. Maybe it’s because it seems like Mario and Luigi are really close. Sure, Mario might be the preeminent hero of the kingdom, but I think he always takes time to acknowledge Luigi’s contributions to his heroics. Whereas I’m pretty sure Princess Peach thinks of Daisy as someone to pal around with and tell Peach how pretty she is.
But, as I said, I’m mostly a Bowser guy. And I love playing Bowser because it gives me license to be a jerk. If I lose a match, I can get pissed because you can bet your ass that Bowser is pissed. Bowser is not a good loser. And if I win, I can be obnoxious because you can bet your ass that Bowser is obnoxious. He’s not a good winner either.
You might think that Bowser would get extra invested in any matches against Mario or Peach, but I think there’s an unspoken respect among these threes. Perhaps I’m overanalyzing, but you have to assume that if Mario and Peach are inviting Bowser to play with them, they aren’t too annoyed by his antics. No, I believe the real emotional investment with Bowser is to be found when he faces off against Bowser Jr.
Bowser seems like a decent dad. He’s not a great role model, but if you’re an ill-tempered turtle in the Mushroom Kingdom, what other job is open for you anyway? At least he spends time with his kid. Even gets Junior involved in his hobbies, like kidnapping Princesses. So I think Bowser is actually pretty proud of his son.
So here’s how it works. If I’m playing doubles with Bowser and Bowser Jr as my partner, then I sure as hell feel a great deal of pride if we take down our opponents. And if I lose a match, I think Bowser would be cool with that too. Because he is nothing if not a supportive parent.
But if Bowser is competing with his son…well, I think the gloves come off. And they come off big time. Partly because Bowser doesn’t want to lose to his kid. And also because Bowser wants his kid to be tough and earn his victories. I sometimes think Bowser goes easy on Mario because taking over the Mushroom Kingdom isn’t nearly as much fun as TRYING to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. But when it comes to his own son, no quarter is given or expected.
When I’m playing Mario Strikers Charged and I perform a cheap tackle from behind on Bowser Jr, I get tremendous satistfaction out of it. It’s just something Bowser would do. And when Bowser Jr does the same, I’m annoyed by it. But I’m also just a little bit pleased. That’s how ya do it, kid! I think.
Maybe I’m putting too much thought into this, but this is why I love playing these Mario sports games. It’s why I love playing Bowser in particular.
I really could go on. I haven’t even tackled Donkey Kong, Wario, or even the minor characters like Koopah Troopah or Boo because, yes, I have indeed thought about what might be going through their minds too. But that would only make the blog entry go on longer, and none of us want that.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to stomp a happy plumber into the ground and win the Crystal Cup tournament. Maybe then all those dumb people in the kingdom will realize just how cool I am.