Playing Mario With My Wife, Who Hates Mario... Part One

I hit a question block, two Super Acorn appears. Mario turns into a squirrel. To me this feels like the most natural thing in the world.

"Urgh," grunts Heizy, my wife. "Why are these greasy old men always playing dress up? It's really creepy."

My wife. She doesn't hate video games. She tends to tolerate them. In the 'pat-me-on-the-head you-have-fun-with-your-little-games' way.

But Mario? She actively hates Mario.

Mario is supposed to be harmless. He's a family friendly plumber with gigantic accessible eyes, dungarees plastered in primary colours, a singing Italian falsetto. It's-a-him! Mario. Your buddy. Wahoo! So kawai!

"He's just a weird middle-aged man chasing after a pretty blonde princess. I hate him. I hate his stupid moustache."

My wife hates Mario in a way I really can't comprehend. Mario is a person I have zero distance from. I grew up with the guy. He's a family friend. He comes round for BBQs, he's attended my birthday parties for as long as I can remember, he turns up at Christmas; an amicable foreign Uncle bearing gifts. He's a bundle of faux-Italian joy.

But from Heizy's perspective, from the outside looking in, he's the man you warn your children about. An aging, unmarried tradesman with dark, disturbing secrets disguised in a voice that's little too high-pitched, nestled in a moustache that's a little too thick. He harbours an unquantifiable menace. He is not to be trusted.

———————— I don't know how I managed to convince her, but Heizy and I are playing New Super Mario Bros. U together. It's a little experiment. Once she forgets she's controlling a potential criminal tradesmen with a dark secret hidden in his face bristles, I think she starts to have fun.

"Stop picking me up!"

I pick her up and throw her around the levels, which I think is hilarious.

It's funny the things we take for granted. Whilst playing Mario, not once do I take my finger off the run button. That feels alien and strange. Mario is supposed to be played at this pace, at this speed. But Heizy is happy to totter around at walking pace. She's in no rush. We almost run out of time in every single level we play.

But I'm having a blast.

————————

"I found that secret, not you. Me!"

I think it's important to point out that this isn't a story about someone who can't play games. It's not about getting my girlfriend into games, which would be even worse. This is not meant to be patronising. This is meant to be a story about what it's like to play Mario alongside someone who actively hates everything Mario stands for. Not from a design perspective, not from any perspective that makes sense in terms of the game itself. No, my wife just hates Mario, for reasons you and I probably haven't thought about or discussed...

Or even dared to imagine.

Mario exists in a strange universe where it's completely fine for a tubby middle-aged man with a moustache to dress up as a bumble bee and get away with it. It doesn't even push the boundaries of our expectations. Some of us even find it cute.

"Why is he dressed up as a BEE? He's an old man!"

I honestly don't know. And I'd prefer not to think about it too deeply thank you very much.

———————— "The princess got kidnapped again, why doesn't he just dump her. She's so stupid. Urgh."

Despite her unique distance, it's interesting just how much Heizy does pick up. She takes the piss out of Mario's ludicrous kidnapped Princess angle, in the same way every bloody web-comic or smartarse comedian does, but it goes beyond that. Despite her lack of experience with Mario, she knows enough to realise that New Super Mario Bros. U isn't exactly the most innovative entry into the series.

"These games are all the same, aren't they?"

Yes, they are. Especially this one. But that's the fun of this little mission. I am playing the most Mario-like game ever made, with the person in my life who most hates Mario.

This will, almost certainly, end well.

You can read part 2 of 'Playing Mario With My Wife, Who Hates Mario', here!


Comments

    "Mario exists in a strange universe where it’s completely fine for a tubby middle-aged man with a moustache to dress up as a bumble bee and get away with it. It doesn’t even push the boundaries of our expectations. Some of us even find it cute."

    Soooo.. Japan? :P

    I agree with your wife, the only people who dont are those who were raised by the Mario propaganda.

      I have to agree i've never been a mario Fan, loved the games... just never understood the character... and yes even i had the odd thought "why is this creepy plumber always chasing the princess", i assumed Peach was intentionally getting kidnapped to get away from mario.

    http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/01/why-a-man-plays-mario/ - reminds me of this write-up by Senor Totilo.

    Can't wait for more, Mark, this is great.

    Mario needs more study done on him now more than ever, hope Part 2 isn't far off.

    Just wait till you buy the new bub a mario or peach jumpsuit and cover the nursery in those SMB decals. She'll be over the moon.

    Man, someone has a huge chip on their shoulder...

    Yeah, never was that into Mario. Grew up with Sonic first, but not big into him either haha. I'm just not that into platformers in general, though have owned and played my fair share. Also agree with Unicorn, babies in those oversized caps are mind-blowingly adorable haha.

    “These games are all the same, aren’t they?”
    "Yes, they are. Especially this one."

    Each more identical than the last.

    I don't really like Mario. Not like your wife though. I don't hate him. I'm just somewhat irritated by him.
    He's like the guy at a party who you politely greet, laugh at one of his 'jokes', and then try to avoid for the rest of the night.

    I think this is just blatant anti-moustache rhetoric. Why do you assume Mario is a dirty old man? He could be younger than the princess, he could be in his early twenties! Google image search "mario without a moustache" and you'll see he's just a lovable cartoon kid! If anything, Peach is the real monster in this game, continuously creating drama just so she can lead on this poor love-sick hero even though she knows her heart will always be locked away in another castle.

    In all seriousness, you can look at any cartoon or show aimed at kids and find it inappropriate when taken in an adult context.... for example - Why is there only one female smurf? Is Roger Ramjet a drug addict? Why is it okay for everybody to let Oscar the Grouch, who is clearly suffering from a mental condition, continue to live in a trashcan???

      There is only one female smurf because the smurfs are a male race.

      Smurfette was created by Gargamel to be his evil spy but her heart was changed by the overwhelming goodness of the smurf way of life.

      And Oscar is a grouch. People probably keep inviting them over but he's all "nah bro, your place sucks. Has no garbage or tightly packed cylinders or anything."

    It's not really all that complicated for me - Mario games are (mostly) very fun platformers. I'm not sure if people are really serious with all these character studies and analysis, I'm hoping most of these are tongue-in-cheek (but I doubt it).

    Im with you on always holding down the run button in Mario games, its just habit now. My girlfriend takes it at her own pace too, barely uses the run button at all. She always accidentally hurls the baby Yoshis down a hole which is always hilarious!

    Just ask yourself one question. As a grown man I'll give you a costume and when you put it on you will be able to fly, at will, where ever you want. Would you wear it?

    It makes you look like a fairy princess with a moustache? Is looking stupid worth it to fly under your own power?

    Anybody who answered no is lying to themselves or asking for a Superman version.

    I get the feeling this type of commentary is one borne of endless nights ragging on bad movies etc and in that context, is par for the course with anything done together (and certainly, a lot of fun for the participants, at that). Unfortunately, though, nobody else could really "be" there with you, whilst that was all happening - so suffice to say, there is going to be a contingent of people who read what she has to say and think "what a presumptuous pessimistic fun-wrecking b....

    I hope you understand what I'm saying, here. I'm not saying that she is, what I'm saying is it bums me out to think of someone in my peripheral - as I play a video game, mouthing off largely unnecessary, over-anthropomorphising (and I would contend that sex crime intent is vastly further than is warranted) brightly coloured pixels

    Yet I read from you that it was fun for you - and to me that smacks of a failure to capture the moment in a light that doesn't paint your wife to be .. err, someone I'd rather not experience in life.

    Just my opinion, I'm okay with absolutely nobody agreeing with me, I did say "a contingent" and I would only truly be able to class 1 other comment to be of a possibly similar mindset (albeit less explanatory on the whole matter).

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