The Sports Psychology of the Mushroom Kingdom

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.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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  1. Posted March 13, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I, um, am not quite sure what to say. You rock for putting this out there and you will totally be the coolest dad on the planet. But, wow. You really have thought about this, haven’t you? I think I will have to partake of the Mario Strikers Charged just to see what got you so into it…because playing Wii Sports with the lame Mi’s doesn’t quite get the mind going into such an awesome place.

  2. Rippley
    Posted March 13, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I can see it now: All the newly written writer’s guides will have a Relaxation Techniques section endorsing the WII and Mario Strikers Charged. Nintendo will promo a commercial featuring A. Lee Martinez saying, “After I write a novel or two, I like to relax. I’ve found, there is no better way to relax than the WII. The WII gets my adrenaline pumping for the next novel, and it’ll get you pumped for your next novel, too.” Then the announcer will say, “WII it’ll make you Extreme…”

  3. Posted March 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m always Yoshi, now what does that say about me?

  4. Giga Watt
    Posted March 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Okay, dude, I think of stuff like that all of the time. But the question I always have to ask is this: What the hell is Yoshi doing playing soccer? Or racing a car? Or competing in sports period? Yoshi is probably the most intriguing character to me, besides Dry Bowser that is. I could go on and on about that, too. What does Bowser think when the race is getting started and he looks to his left and HOLY CRAP! his dead body is in a go kart next to him? That’s gotta scare the living machetes out a villain, even one as badass as Bowser.

  5. Joe Biden
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    hell yeah that was ninja assassassasssassin

  6. Posted July 1, 2010 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    That’s just it. You are just one of the coolest dads who love to stay at home. Some dads love the sports that would get them to scream their heart out, but you are different and what’s makes you very cool.

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