Character Appreciation: Nintendo Edition
In this I discuss the love we have for Yoshi, why Princess Daisy should be utilized more, and why Goombas deserve more credit.
1. Why do we love Yoshi so much?
Despite all the colourful and exciting characters the Mario franchise has brought to us over the years, Yoshi continues to be one of the most popular heroes the Mushroom Kingdom has ever had among us fans.
Okay, so aside from the obvious: his adorable rounded nose, his puppy-dog eyes, his duck-like physique, his bouncy animations and his enthusiastic squeals, what is it that makes us so emotionally invested in Yoshi as a character?
Well one thing's for certain: childlike mannerisms do not equate to undefined virtues. However youthful he may be, Yoshi has proven his bravery and willingness to help his friends however he can time and time again in many titles—and not to mention his gratitude, especially whenever Mario rescues him from certain danger or from being trapped in an egg as a result of Bowser's sorcery.
In the case of Paper Mario, the Yoshi children learn their lesson about disobeying Sushi and wandering off into the jungle completely naive and inexperienced. The adults express their thanks by providing you with the necessary tools and information to continue your quest.
And even then, such unexpected perils help Yoshi grow as an adventurer in general.
Yoshi's entire character is built around companionship, perseverance, and loyalty, which are traits all people want in a friend. So when you see this sweet and genuine character risking his well-being for the sake of your story arc, when he could instead be parading around his Super Happy Tree and eating all sorts of delicious fruits to his heart's content, you feel the need to try and keep him safe and satiated as best as you can.
Heck, in Yoshi's Island he makes it his personal responsibility to return baby Mario back to his family, with only himself to rely on thematically. This game is probably the best example of how far he will go to do something that's beyond himself.
It isn't even really about his skill set. Sure he can flutter about, ground pound, squirt fruit juice, gobble up his enemies and lay them as egg projectiles, all of which are extraordinary abilities I'm positive any of us wishes we were capable of. But these are not the things that define his character, and why we grow attached to him as someone who we want to see happy and do well for himself.
He's selfless and mostly keeps optimistic even in the darkest of times, and it's these beams of light he shines upon us that keep us going to see better days.
Even when we least expect it, or think that we don't want to feel that way because of something that brought us down, we're always put in a fantastic mood whenever we see the delightful little Yoshi lively strolling about. We suddenly remember why we care so much about doing what we do—to preserve as much good in the world as possible.
2. Dear Nintendo: Princess Daisy can be heroic, too!
So we all know by now that Mario Party 2 was my first ever video game. The reason I bring this up again is because Princess Peach is the first video game character I've ever played as. Growing up as your typical girl obsessed with Disney princesses and the colour pink, I quickly selected her the moment I first laid eyes on her to join my childhood friends' picks on that never-ending pipe run.
Even though I understood nothing about character at the age of five, I suppose I was confident enough that I'd be able to battle it out royally with the peachy princess by my side.
That was, until I discovered the daring darling that is Princess Daisy. I don't remember if it was Mario Tennis or Mario Party 3 that introduced me to her, but I do recall thinking, "Whoa, a character that somewhat resembles me!" I think this was when the concept of relating to characters started kicking in for me.
Obviously, I got over these phases long ago. But it doesn't mean I don't continue to appreciate some fictional princesses for their solid characterizations or even simple, though powerful traits and symbolisms - despite the flak princesses catch in general.
Daisy is among those princesses that I still extend my appreciation to after all these years. I've always enjoyed how sweet, yet spunky she is, even when suspense or chaos are afoot. And for someone supposedly of royalty, she's surprisingly—though refreshingly—unpretentious. It's nonetheless nice to see her drop hints of politesse every now and again, because it would be rather jarring if she bore no sense of civility otherwise.
I love her energy most of all; it's like nothing could bring her down, especially during competitions—although she's cute when she has her clumsy moments. It also helps that she and I share the same affinity for flowers.
She's just so animated. When she's feeling something, you believe it, because it's written all over her face. Even though she and Peach actually seem quite complementary, I personally consider Daisy the more accessible character among players for all these reasons. It's funny I say this too, because ever since her debut in the 1989 game Super Mario Land, she's only ever appeared in spinoffs, where character development is at its most basic.
It just goes to show you how much you can infer from given personality traits, interests and actions. Sometimes, character writing can be at its most effective when it just gives you the character in their natural state, without feeling the need to shoehorn in any notable backstories, complex flaws and major arcs.
With that being said, I strongly contend that Nintendo could—and should—do something more with Daisy.
Now, I'm not going to immediately jump the gun and proclaim, "Give Daisy her own game!" even if I think she deserves to be given a chance, because I understand that there'd need to be a high demand for the character (not to mention a huge following for the games she's already in) from fans. Hell, Waluigi is much more popular than her (with me as well, admittedly), and he's only ever gotten fan games so far.
I guess the issue is that whenever a character gets their own game, it doesn't sell as well as the main ones, and so Nintendo probably doesn't see the point in deviating too much from their usual pattern. At least some of the characters—Luigi, Donkey Kong, Yoshi and Wario—have gotten more than one game, so that means they don't rule out the possibility entirely.
At the most, I'd ask that Nintendo experiments with and incorporates her in at least one core Mario title—particularly where Luigi takes the main stage. I frankly don't see why Daisy can't accompany Luigi on his quests, ideally where ghosts and mansions are involved. Whether or not they're a couple, they definitely have potential chemistry (compared to Mario and Peach, anyway), and they could balance each other out.
Daisy is this vibrant firework that could provide positive encouragement to Luigi, and given her high stats in sports, I could imagine them translating over to cleverness and creativity in figuring out the best approach to any scenario. Luigi, who is skittish but sensible, could keep her grounded and would find an optimal way to keep them both safe—all while counteracting the threat with a wit of his own.
They're both lively, and they certainly care about their friends, so it goes without saying that they will find a trustworthy companion in each other—and make each other laugh even in the scariest of times. This would make for an entertaining change of pace, no?
3. Why Goombas Are Awesome
Look guys, I get that Yoshi and Luigi are cool and all, but I personally think Goombas deserve a little more love than they already do.
And I know what you're probably thinking: "What, those dumb little Bowser minions that let themselves get stomped on? What makes them so special?"
First of all—how rude! Don't assume that the Goombas you encounter in the side-scrollers represent the entire community. And even then, if you look at it another way, they could simply be out for a walk—when all of a sudden Mario and his gang of shit disturbers decide to step all over them for no reason.
But stay in their way, or bump into them, and they shamelessly knock you off course—because ain't nobody got time for that when there is a peaceful walk to be had. Considering how inconsiderate we are as players, I don't blame them.
And another thing: not all Goombas hold allegiance to Bowser and his troop. Plenty of them do, yes, but it's their choice. Depending on your view, Bowser may or may not actually be evil. Regardless, it shows that they do have their own opinions on politics and who the better leader is—because Princess Peach sure doesn't seem to bring her A-game when it comes to ruling her kingdom...
Others, on the other hand, have remained loyal to the Mushroom Kingdom, and from our perspective, are rather kind and civilized. The most well-known example is undoubtedly the Goomba Village inhabitants from Paper Mario, who are active participants in the kingdom's society, as seen in their trips to Toad Town. Then you have those who choose to function independently in remote locations like Rogueport from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
But it doesn't stop there. You have individual Goombas with their own interesting personalities, dreams, feelings, and interests. Take Goombella from TTYD for instance; she's a sassy and determined university student with a love for archeology and providing the player with knowledge on everything and anything. Goombario (Paper Mario), while sharing the latter ability with Goombella, is a fun-loving little boy who idolizes Mario, and slowly becomes a hero in his own right throughout the journey.
Another standout Goomba is the one that hosts his own Greedy Gala in Mario Party 4; he loves gambling, gleefully watching players flirt with Lady Luck, and is a shady and morally ambiguous, though enjoyable character with cheeky one-liners. But these are just a handful of examples, and I'd be here all day if I went through them all.
They come in all shapes, sizes, colours, genders and even types (Paragoombas, Spikeys, and Gloombas, among many others all come to mind). Some of these characteristics even determine their strengths and weaknesses in battle.
They generally head-bonk, although flyers can also kick, and a good number of them can deal a lot of damage to the player. Paragoombas have the obvious advantage of being airborne, while Spikeys shouldn't be stepped on, so it's up to the player to find other ways to lower their defences and combat them. Suddenly Goombas are becoming more complex, eh?
So you see, not all Goombas are the same, and are just as diverse and valuable as every other character in Mario's world. You just need to get to know them.