The Extraordinary Quest to Put All the Super Mario Games On One Timeline
September 9, 2012 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Stephen Totilo of Kotaku tries to determine the correct chronology for all the games in the Super Mario canon.
posted by reenum (23 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The nerd need to constantly qualify every bit of ephemera regarding their favorite franchise is equally bewildering and infuriating.

That being said, this is the only timeline the series needs.
posted by Shadax at 1:37 PM on September 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

I thought we'd settled this already.

1. Breaks into pharmacy.
2. Puts on lab coat.
3. Eats giant scads of prescription capsules.
4. Has a long series of varyingly pedestrian and bizarre dying hallucinations as the drugs kick in.
posted by cortex at 1:41 PM on September 9, 2012 [19 favorites]

But when did he teach typing cortex? WHEN
posted by graventy at 1:43 PM on September 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

We also find out Luigi is all in his head à la Fight Club.
posted by littlesq at 1:44 PM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

I always wondered what happened to Pauline.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:52 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

My Aspie 8 year old will love this, but I'm afraid to show it to him since Mario is all he talks about already.
posted by mollweide at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

When does Dennis Hopper get involved?
posted by The Whelk at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

i do not think these games share a chronology
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:07 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

They are all a Rashomon-style retelling of the same story.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:15 PM on September 9, 2012 [6 favorites]

So, what, you're saying these games are just made up? Stories? Fairy tales? I don't think so.
posted by cmoj at 2:16 PM on September 9, 2012

When does Dennis Hopper get involved?

I still like to think I am controlling Bob Hoskins when I play Mario games.
posted by Hicksu at 2:38 PM on September 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

And just how does Motörhead fit into all this?
posted by Brocktoon at 2:47 PM on September 9, 2012

cmoj : So, what, you're saying these games are just made up? Stories? Fairy tales? I don't think so.

FTA: Short and simple, it is very unlikely that these two games actually happened. Mario 3 happened, Smash Bros. did not. Or if they did happen, it was in some kind of time rip that can't be tracked for purposes of this timeline.

There you go. Some of them happened. Some did not. Or if they did happen, someone must have accidentally reversed the neutron flow.
posted by pla at 2:58 PM on September 9, 2012

Mario is just what the Mushroom Kingdom calls those mercenary jumping guards. Like a Goomba or a Koopa Troopa or a Lakitu. Everyone keeps anthropomorphizing Mario, but he is little a human as a Koopa Troopa is a turtle.
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:23 PM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

23. Mario's Time Machine

This could complicate things.
posted by oulipian at 3:33 PM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Before all of you start asking more questions. Dr. Mario was a human, a real person. Dr. Mario was a famous polyglot. He was a diagnostician, a historian, an inventor, but most importantly the foremost geneticist of his world. Attempting to clone himself he produced a terrifying beast. More apelike than he intended, stronger than he imagined, the creature was cursed with a free will but no place in society.

Breaking loose, the monster captured his wife and stole away into hiding. Dr. Mario, too weak a man to be a hero, created himself a second clone. This one had the likeness of him, but with superior strength, a taller frame, and a fierce intellect. It was this 'Mario' clone which we remember from the Donkey Kong era. This clone was set off against the first.

In time, Pauline was returned to safety, and the original clone was locked away as a circus act. But things all was not well for long. In the years to follow the second clone grew unstable. He began to alternate between fear, lucidity and frightening bouts of rage. Pauline no longer felt safe around Dr. Mario's not with his clone always close behind. She left him in time, and Dr. Mario fell into a deep depression. He cast out his clone, called him a monster, but the monster struck back. The blow was too great. Dr. Mario's spine snapped. Paralysed from the hips down, Dr. Mario could do nothing but watch as his clone threw off his uniform, and don colors green and black. Out of the door the clone went, and out of Dr. Mario's life, for now. The two would not cross paths again until it would be the clone who would knock his door, to ask not for forgiveness, but for help.

A war was waging on a world strange and different. The Mushroom Kingdom was suffering heavy losses. Somehow their enemy had found a way to turn their fallen Mushroom Guards into Goombas. It was a nightmarish apocalypse for a once idyllic kingdom. The King called for help, and a solution came. A man in green and purple had arrived. He called himself a professor, and promised to create for them an army. But the genetic material of these people were strange, different, what he produced were monsters more terrible than anything his creator had created. Aghast at what he had made, he burned them all with fire. What he had made in that mansion we may never know. Telling the King it would take more time, he returned to Earth.

There he visisted Dr. Mario's laboratory. His creator, wheelchair bound, answered the door. The clone relayed the story of the Mushroom Kingdom, explained the machine he had built to access their world, and pleaded for his help. Dr. Mario scoffed at the idea and told him to leave. His creation left instructions, in case he changed his mind. Dr. Mario threatened to call the police. Shut out from his creator, uncared for and unwanted, it was then he must have wanted a shell to guard his heart from further pain. Because, at that moment, he had an idea. He returned to the Mushroom Kingdom with a turtle.

Time passed. His doctors told him the facts straight. His self-experimentation with neural growth hormones, his attempts to revive his dead legs, they were at the cost of his life. He had cancer. He called them fools. He fired them. He would not stop trying until one day. A stray bullet on the streets of Chicago. She was visiting her grand daughters. He didn't cry when he received the call. He bought airplane tickets to Pauline's funeral. Dr. Mario couldn't finish his eulogy. Before friends turned enemies, he broke into tears. The line that struck him started with the word forgiveness. Back home, he sent help to bring release his first clone into the jungles. He knew it was a mad thing to do. Looking upon all his work, upon his life all he saw was selfishness. With Pauline dead, what else was there for him on Earth?

The instructions were lucid and clear. Powered by an impressively small amount of plutonium, his creation's device ripped a hole through space and time. Dr. Mario appeared in the royal chamber of a castle in ruins. Through the bullet holes and collapsed walls he saw a world ravaged by war. Flying warships crossed the skies, the world was red with fires. The squeak and creak of his wheelchair alerted the mushroom people who had secreted themselves away. Hidden panels flipped open, and behind many toadstool soldiers was his balding clone. His body decaying from what would later be identified as genetic decomposition. Next to him was Toad, the last surviving royal heir. Prince Toad relayed the story to Dr. Mario.

The troops his clone had created, his 'Koopas' as he called them, were successful. They were a fierce force. Within two months they decimated the enemy. As they were more turtle than mushroom, they were immune to the methods employed to turn the fallen into goombas. With the addition of fire power, and flying ships it all added up to an invincible army. But the King demanded more, and more brutal forces. A dream was born of a whole world united within the Mushroom Kingdom. A 'King' Koopa was produced. He was more intelligent than all the rest, with an intellect to match his creator, even his creator's creator. But he, like Dr. Mario's first clone, grew wild and mad, unstable and far too strong to be contained. After the war, after the world was conquered, the King Koopa turned on his creator. He claimed that his people should have their own kingdom, a Koopa Kingdom. The peace never lasted. King Koopa demanded more and more land until eventually-- Dr. Mario cut the Prince off and demanded to see the laboratory.

Dr. Mario was unnerved at first. The secret laboratory was a perfect replica of his laboratory back on earth. He tried to ask why, but communication was impossible. His clone could only babble. Thankfully, it did not take long. Supplies were plentiful, and Dr. Mario had refined his theories since his more youthful days. He produced two new clones of himself. One tall and one short. The first in the image of his second clone, the second in the image of himself. They were faster, able to jump higher, able to run longer than any human could. They could consume mushroom matter to strengthen themselves. They could absorb energy from any source available. They were Super Marios. But they needed a leader. He was too old, his clone was senile, the Mushroom Kingdom's royalty was nearly at an end. It was with Pauline's lock of hair, and some of Prince Toad's genetic material, that he created an immortal princess to lead the kingdom. Prince Toad unwillingly assumed the role of Chancellor.

Many Super Marios died to win back the Mushroom Kingdom. One fortress after another, they pushed back the line. Dr. Mario did not survive to see the victory, or the eventual slavery of his creation. Before the last flag raised, Dr. Mario's heart seized.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:54 PM on September 9, 2012 [24 favorites]

Yeah, I'm a pretty hard core Nintendo nerd, and I obsessed over the Zelda timeline until Nintendo made it official, but even I think trying to cram the Mario games into a time-line is pretty much ridiculous (and borderline impossible).

That said, the question that needs answering is this; who the hell did Bowser mate with to produce the Koopalings?
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:03 PM on September 9, 2012

Bowser, King of the Koopas, reverse engineered the process which had spawned him and his kin. His experiments along the way led to the creation of such strange entities as the Chargin' Chucks, Dino-Torch, Koopalings, and Piranha Plants. The only thing I'm left wondering about is the role Toad has played in history. It is always Princess Peach who gets captured by Bowser, and that leaves him in charge. How is it that Bowser always has a way in? This would give motive as to why Princess Peach would create Princess Daisy-- an emergency replacement in the event that Toad got his way.

As for Birdo, I assume he was one of Professor Elvin's early disasters which he had attempted to burn to death.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:19 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mario is a prime example of gameplay over narrative. Mario games are not really meant to tell a story (though most of them have a rudimentary one plastered on top). The story is in the journey. In finally making that harrowing leap. In discovering a secret area, or a new bad guy or power up. Video games don't tell stories well. Cut scenes suck and quicktime events are no better. Why designers haven't really learned this lesson yet boggles my mind. The most recognizable and popular video game character of all time has barely any personality. He is a cypher, and because of that, we all can comfortably inhabit Mario. Even Bowser and Peach are basically irrelevant, visible for one percent of the game or less. Mario exists for the joy of jumping, squashing, smashing, collecting, running, swimming, floating, flying, etc.

Thus ever have been the best characters: Pac man, Space Marine, your explorer in Seven Cities of Gold or the mayor of Sim City.
posted by rikschell at 6:25 PM on September 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

Disturbingly, the games make a lot of references to Princess Peach being Bowser Jr.'s mom.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:42 PM on September 9, 2012

And while Birdo is obnoxious as hell (in my opinion) because of all of the sports titles, there is a mainstream, playable, canonically transexual character in family games, so that's kind of cool.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:47 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

You know that commercial where all the kids in colored shirts are chanting 'Mario! Mario! Mario!,' and then they zoom out and it's a big Mario face of kids superimposed on North America? That shit creeped me out when I was a kid.
posted by box at 9:17 PM on September 9, 2012

You wouldn't have been a cool kid back in Nazi Germany.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:31 PM on September 9, 2012

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