Some things are better left unknown
You know the Mushroom Kingdom, right? It's that happy, funny, colorful place where Mario and Luigi run around kicking in the soft heads of Goombas and collecting coins stored in floating blocks. But despite its appealing outward appearance, the Mushroom Kingdom is actually a fairly disgusting, disturbing place when it comes right down to it.
Come with us, as we kick off Mario week with a look at the dark underside of the Mushroom Kingdom. Without further ado, let's-a go!
7. Everything is alive
The hills do, indeed, have eyes in the Mushroom Kingdom. So do the clouds, and the rocks, and the umbrellas. In fact, just about everything in the Mushroom Kingdom has eyes, because just about everything in the Mushroom Kingdom, from the slopes Mario slams his butt on to the umbrella Peach smacks enemies with, is alive.
Just as is the case with the Pokemon universe (which we discussed when we talked about the disturbing things about that mess of a world), you have to assume that since anything can be alive in the Mushroom Kingdom, everything is alive. If the clouds are alive, there's no reason to assume that water isn't, or air isn't, or the bullets aren't. Wait, the bullets have eyes and a mouth - so, yeah, they're alive too. And so are the bombs, and...
6. The political system is a complete mess
Princess Peach Toadstool currently leads the Mushroom Kingdom. There are a few issues with this statement. First, she's a princess, not a queen - that's because her father, the King, apparently fled during the events of Super Mario Bros. and never returned (or was turned into an animal in Super Mario Bros. 3 and never returned, the details are hazy), leaving his politically inexperienced daughter to run the entire kingdom. This, alone, is troubling, but even more problematic is the class system that keeps the rich rolling in the coins while the poor scrub their boots.
It's called the "Mushroom Kingdom." Mushroom Kingdom. The capital? Toad Town. Citizens of the kingdom? Toads. These Mushroom People are the dominant race throughout the Kingdom. But, for some reason, they're mere servants to the royal Toadstool family who, despite having "Toad" right in the name, are actually humans. The politically inexperienced minority (humans) is, in this case, ruling over the vast majority (Toads). Their textbooks must be a mess.
5. Everyone lives in constant fear of an evil monster
There's never a Mario game in which you prevent Bowser from kidnapping the Princess. Ever think about that? It's not that the people of the Mushroom Kingdom don't know what Bowser wants to do, or that they think he's not going to try to do it - it's because they literally can't stop him. Bowser is an evil force who has the power to march into Peach's castle and kidnap her from her bed. Let that sink in for a moment.
The Toads of the Mushroom Kingdom must live in fear of this horrible, evil monster. If he's capable of breaking through the security at the castle and kidnapping royalty, what's to stop him from doing whatever he wants? Nothing. If Bowser wakes up in the morning and says, "Hey, Magikoopa, let's go murder a million Toads," he can just do it and no one can ever stop him. Instead, we'd be playing a game where Mario runs around cleaning up the bones of Toads so that Peach can have a nice vacation.
4. ...and yet the Kingdom's royalty still occasionally hang out with him for casual fun
Despite being an unstoppable evil force, Bowser is still allowed to attend any sporting activities the people of the Mushroom Kingdom hold. Soccer, baseball, tennis, racing - you name it, Bowser shows up with a bunch of his evil friends to hang out for a fun day of sporting, and everyone seems as pleased as punch to accept him as a friend, despite the fact that he's a terrible, terrible monster.
And no, this isn't like the Olympics taking place in Germany pre-World War II - this would be like Hitler running track and field in a London-hosted Olympics in 1943. Bowser literally terrorizes the people, and then shows up for tea and golf with the political members he continuously attempts to (and succeeds to) defeat. It's... weird. Really, really weird.
3. Its most historically significant battle never happened
It's safe to assume that, like The Legend of Zelda series, the different Mario games are historical accounts of historical events in the Mushroom Kingdom's timeline. Some games tell of wars while others tell of daring rescue missions. If this is the case, then one of the important and well-known stories in the Mushroom Kingdom's history never actually happened. The kidnapping of Peach (and the first attack of the Koopalings) that takes place in Super Mario Bros. 3 was actually a staged play. Yes, tinfoil hat-wearing Koopa Troopa connecting points on a map - you're right about this one.
Super Mario Bros. 3 is actually extremely up-front about what it is. The game starts off with a curtain being raised, all of the objects in the environment are either bolted to a wall or hung by ropes, and the levels all end with the characters exiting, stage right (even). It's a show - a farce - proving that some of the Mushroom Kingdom's most important, historically significant segments were actually made up. There's a good chance you're not even playing as Mario in that game, either - that's likely just an actor pretending to be Mario. Take that, childhood.
2. Drugs are literally EVERYWHERE
Yeah, the mushrooms Mario devours to increase, decrease, greatly increase, or greatly decrease his size are drugs. Let's get that out of the way right now. But the disturbing thing about narcotics in the Mushroom Kingdom isn't how many its most prolific heroes consume, but how easy it is to find them. Kick any rock and you're likely to see a powerful mushroom scoot out from beneath it, capable of giving anyone superhuman powers in mere seconds.
But you need to at least hunt those down - the hallucinogenic spores from Yoshi's Island are literally floating in the air, and merely touching them provides the trip of a lifetime. "Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy" is the given name of the level, but we figure it would more appropriately be named "Touch Fuzzy, and... woah man, ever wonder if the green I see is, like, the green... you see? Also Peach's kidnapping was an inside job; is Taco Bell still open?"
1. The kingdom's greatest hero is a dumpy plumber
Meet Mario Mario (yes, that's his last name), the champion of the Mushroom Kingdom. When evil strikes, the princess is kidnapped, or the world is under siege, it's up to... him. There are no knights, no soldiers, no anything - just an Italian plumber who can jump real good. Don't be fooled, though, Mario isn't the the best jumper in the kingdom - his brother can jump a little higher, leaving Mario with the esteemed title of "best at nothing."
Despite his shortcomings, he is the only thing that stands between the Mushroom Kingdom and complete and utter chaos. Without him, Peach is still in Bowser's clutches. Without him, Tatanga still has Daisy in a cell. Without him, the entire kingdom is in ruins under Fawful's awful rule. It's never explained why he is the one they put in charge of everything, but the Hand of the King he is, dutied with the protection of the realm. He has no powers, he has no special abilities, and he can barely put together sentences. But, regardless, he's the hero they need, even if he isn't necessarily the one they want.
And we love him for it.
It was all a dream
Oh, and Super Mario Bros. 2 is all a dream, but we assume you knew that already. So, what do you think? Still excited for the next Mario game, or do you expect that it'll just open up more doors that you wish you'd never looked through? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you're looking for more Mario goodness, check out obscure facts and random trivia about Mario and 20 things we love about Super Mario world (20 years after it came out).