Mario, Kirby, And Samus Aran Shine In The Nintendo Character Manual
December 30, 2014
Earlier this year, Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation author Blake J. Harris offered us a peek inside the official Nintendo Character Manual from 1993 where we learned such fascinating facts about classic Nintendo heroes and villains such as Yoshi's real name (T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas) and mushroom retainer Toad's original hometown (he has family in the Fungus Federation). Now Blake has provided PTB with more pages from that guide. Thrill at official artwork, PANTONE guides, and brief biographies for characters such as Luigi, Wario, Samus Aran, Kirby, and more. Long-running questions about these characters are finally answered in this guide including Wario's relation to Mario and why Pauline returned to the Donkey Kong spotlight after an absence of nearly fifteen years. Did you know that Mario loves opera music? Some of this you may have seen before in previous excerpts (such as parts of Mario's bio), but I'm posting all that I have here in one place in the name of completeness. It's a fascinating look behind the curtain at licensing guidelines that the end-consumer typically never gets to see.
I don't recall Mario's favorite music (opera or new wave Euro-pop) surfacing in any media. It's a strange characteristic to assign him as neither style was particularly popular with kids in the 1990s.
These bios lean heavily on the Mario brothers' plumbing skills and business, a facet of their characters that has always lingered in the background, but never really impacts the games outside of the RPG titles. The television cartoons and Hollywood film, on the other hand, revel in it. Find a trait and stick with it, I guess. If things had gone differently, Bob Hoskins could have sung opera in the Super Mario Bros. movie.
The Mushroom King has been absent in the games, but he's all over the tie-in media of the era. He's often seen in the Valiant comic books published between 1990-1991 where he's portrayed as a revered moron who has a bad habit of being kidnapped and getting his tie caught in peanut butter jars. I think the Mushroom Kingdom is better off under the princess's rule.
Many games in the Mario series and much of the tie-in media portray Bowser's military ambitions as manifest destiny and a desire to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom simply because it's there, but here we learn that Bowser actually wants to take over just because he doesn't like the idea of happy fungi. That seems petty even for Bowser. If the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom were all miserable, would he leave them alone?
Nobody anywhere has ever refered to Toad as "Little Toadie", nor has any game referred to the Fungus Federation (which, frankly, suggests the idea of a Super Mario / Star Trek crossover).
Yoshi's proper (species?) name has never turned up anywhere either.
Why must Yoshi always face to the left? Is his other side hideously scarred like the Batman villain Two-Face?
Wario's relation to Mario has long been an unanswered question, but now we have confirmation (as much as anything in this guide is accurate; as we've seen, some of this material is strange) that he's not Mario evil twin, but his childhood friend. This has been backed up by tie-in comics. Wario has limited plumbing skills, too, that have gone unrecognized in the video games.
Bowser's size fluctuates as needed these days. Sometimes he's a little taller than Mario as seen here, sometimes he's large enough for Mario to pick up and toss by the tail (from Super Mario 64), and other times he's absolutely huge (as seen at the end of Super Mario Sunshine).
Hey, Yoshi's facing the wrong way!
Points deducted for the "sting like a Dedede" pun.
Remember when Samus Aran's bio was this simple? Later sequels, prequels, and interquels would turn her into one of the few Nintendo protagonists with an actual detailed backstory depicting her childhood, early battles, primary career, and unknown future.
Thanks again, Blake, for providing these pages. For more from him, don't miss Episode 160 of the Power Button podcast in which he joins us to discuss the best games of 2014.