By: Johnny Marcondes
MOMMA MIA! Nintendo has showed off a side of Mario no one has ever seen before during their Nintendo Direct conference where new footage and screen shots of the upcoming Mario Odyssey was shown. During the conference fans were shown new footage of the game displaying some of the new worlds Mario is able to visit in Mario Odyssey, while all the worlds shown looked like fun and had this nostalgic Mario 64 feel to it the inclusion of a beach level which showed off the little plumber in ways never before seen was a stand out. For the first time ever, Mario abandoned his iconic overalls for swimming trunks showing off some that sweet Italian plumber bod. Even though having a character in trunks at the beach is nothing ground breaking, the fact that we’re seeing Mario shirtless is a little unnerving especially considering that while he may not be sporting some sweet abs to impress Princess Peach, he does have…human nipples?
There’s just something so incredibly bizarre about seeing little nipples on Mario, I can’t quite put my finger on it but it’s just a really really strange visual. The second I saw those little nips I zoned out and had this inner conflict with my inner child. Growing up you never saw Mario shirtless or remotely being sexualized and now here he is nipples free and soaking up some sun. It’s just something as a gamer I never thought about, there was never a time growing up that I asked myself “I wonder what Mario’s nipples look like under those overalls”. As odd as it is to see our favorite little plumber sport some flesh toned nipples, it isn’t without reason.
Nintendo has shown quite a bit of gameplay footage for Mario Odysessy and one thing that’s made instantly clear is that Mario isn’t the only human around in this game. Gamers have been so accustomed to the original line up of “human” or “human like” characters (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Rosalina, Daisy etc) and their designs that once Nintendo introduced new cities that are occupied with genuinely realistically looking human characters the balance was a little hard to digest for many. Seeing Mario interact with fellow humans in New Donk City (NYC) makes you kind of second guess a few things. Why is it that those humans look more tradition while Mario looks like he belongs in well a video game?
In Mario Odyssey players are going to encounter other humans in the game who honestly stick out like a sore thumb whenever Mario is near them. There’s such a different and obvious graphical design/gap between the two that Nintendo needed a way to remind players that yes, even though he may look more animated than the other humans, Mario is still in fact a human. This is where Nintendo implements a few reminders to the audience. Hence the nipples, because what better way to remind your players that the character they’re controlling is human than to give them human parts? As long as Nintendo doesn’t give Mario a bulge shading effect on his overalls I think we’re fine.
Joking aside, Nintendo really is trying to push both their hardware and software towards the heart of gamers again. We’ve seen them announce games like Skyrim and most recently Doom for the Switch which are both heavily mature and adult games, so Nintendo is clearly on the right path back into the mainstream for core gamers. One thing Nintendo has done repeatedly and successfully constantly progress the character of Mario as well as his games. Sure adding nipples to the character is a small touch but it’s also pretty effective. When Nintendo showed off Odyssey the first time around the inclusion of “normal” humans made the game have this slightly unsettling aesthetic where the world around Mario looked like it didn’t really belong or that Mario really fit in with his surroundings.
Since this is said to be one of the biggest Mario games and there’s use of numerous new worlds than giving Mario more common human attributes works. The inclusion of nipples may be funny and a little strange but frankly they work. It’s a smart way for Nintendo to drive home the fact that Mario is human but just from somewhere else. The humans found in the games version of New York City don’t look like the humans found Mushroom Kingdom and they don’t have too. Giving Mario this level of diversity is proof of Nintendo’s progression with the brand showing that Mario isn’t alone in the games universe and there are other humans. Mario Odysessy’s latest trailer shows off not only the expanded universe in the series with no worlds but also show’s how Nintendo continually adds new feature to the series making Mario always seem relevant and fun.
I wrote a piece recently talking about the character of Mario and how Nintendo has one of the most iconic video game characters in history which can be found here. In that article I broke down just how Nintendo managed to keep Mario popular and relevant throughout the years in an industry that’s ever changing and filled with shifting demands. Nintendo continues their attention to detail and character progression in Mario Odysessy through numerous ways. For example there are so many subtle new features in Mario Odysessy that show growth in the character such as Mario taking naps when he’s tired or the way he gets excited and does a little shimmy/dance to the less than subtle ways like his nipples. Below is the Nintendo Direct footage showing off some of the new abilities, features and looks Mario is going to bale to obtain which will make this the most hands on and customizable Mario game to date.