Super Mario Vs The Quest Story

Comparing the elements of the Super Mario Bros. series, and the classic "quest" story.
July 27, 2007
Now, when you think of Super Mario Bros. you normally don’t think of any “real” story. You think of a fair challenge, good games, memorable characters, and that’s basically it. Well, a trained eye could see that there’s more to this plumbers story than just pitfalls, and killer turtles. There’s more behind the scene’s that makes the Mario bros. stories so much better; let’s have a look.

Starting out on one of the more basic elements, we have a life altering event. The princess of the Mushroom Kingdom (Princess Peach Toadstool) gets kidnapped by King Koopa and is stowed 8 worlds away from her kingdom. This occurs in all of the original 2-D platform games excluding Super Mario 2 in which she made an appearance as a playable character. This brings chaos to the Mushroom Kingdom. Monsters are at every peak, throwing hammers, running (or walking) rampantly. Now who do we call to clean up this mess?

So now we get into our hero, another basic quest element. When the Mushroom Kingdom is in trouble, and being terrorized, they don’t call for an army, or royal guards, they call for a short plumber in red overalls; Mario. As always, the hero has to have a unique ability to combat evil with; Mario has the bottom of his boots. He’s the highest jumping hero in the kingdom. So now that we have our hero, he’s going to need a little extra help to fight back Koopa’s men.

Luckily for Mario, there is plenty of “magic” and special weapons on the way to help him on his journey. There are fire-flowers that allow him to shoot fire from his hands at oncoming enemies, mushrooms, that give him a second life to combat with, and the invincibility star. While this gives our hero something to fight back with, it doesn’t make this journey any easier. There are still pitfalls, flying bullets, and plenty of other environmental risks that serve as a threat to our hero

Like any quest story, our hero has to leave home. The adventurer must set out on his own without comfort, familiarity, and achieve his goal. This also affects the game play. If you’re unfamiliar with a world, there is something that’s going to eventually pop out at you, and attempt to take you down, but luckily you have your weapons to help combat them. The princess has been taken 8 levels away into Koopa’s home. Away from familiarity, and “easier” game play for our hero. So Mario being our hero, has to go through these 8 levels to find the princess, and kill off Koopa. It gets progressively rougher for our hero the closer he gets. More enemies, more pitfalls, and fewer chances at special abilities. So this is no cakewalk.


Seriously, once we think about it, why is Mario doing this? Why is he putting himself in harms way, enduring horde’s of evil villains, and traveling such a long way for? Well, like any quest story, there is a reward at the end. While there is coins on the way, Mario is not looking for a treasure, or riches; Mario is seeking love. To get a little deeper into this, think about it in terms of how our world would it. You’re an Italian immigrant, making your wages by being a plumber with your older brother (Luigi) the highest authority in the land calls, and asks you to save their beautiful princess. If you call yourself a man, your going to suck it up, risk life, and limb and go rescue this girl that you think you have a major chance with, because you saved her life. Needless to say
if Mario does go the distance, and saves Princess Toadstool, he’s set for life. She’s a royal princess; he won’t be in someone’s septic tank anytime soon, I’ll tell you that.

So that’s the story of Super Mario. Now while it isn’t one of the “traditional” quest stories we’re accustomed to hearing about, it has elements of a quest story. Sure there are a lot of quest elements that have yet to be seen, but as the games carry on in story, something new will always add to it.
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