Aaron DiManna
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Mario is a Fiend who Possesses Cars, People, Frogs

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There is a world of difference between possessing and driving

Mario standing in front of a red backlight, looking smug.
The plumber himself, presumably in the depths of hell
Photo: JD Hancock via Flikr

Ah, Super Mario Odyssey. A bold take on the classic platformer; a major selling point for the Nintendo Switch; a family-friendly adventure for the ages; a game where a disproportionately small Italian man uses a cursed hat to possess whatever unsuspecting creature suits his dark whims.

In stark contrast to his heroic persona, Mario’s actions throughout Super Mario Odyssey are ghoulish, unsightly, and disturbing.

With a peppy “wahoo!” the fiend throws his hat at a frog. Within seconds, the frog has sprouted a bushy mustache and lost all control of its motor functions. Sometimes Mario lets the frog live after releasing it from his puppeteer’s strings. Other times, the “hero” is happy to let the poor amphibian lose its life at the hands of one of Bowser’s minions.

As unsettling as it is to watch Mario take control of animals both fictitious and existent, watching him possess a full-sized, reasonably proportioned human being is another matter altogether. Not only does the hat-based possession of humans raise an ethical dilemma, it draws into question Mario’s motives, as well as the abilities endowed to him by his (probably) demonic headwear.

The lynchpin of this issue is the in-fiction reason for Mario to assume control of a citizen of New Donk City: to drive an RC car.

Disregarding the fact that the individual in question is baffled by his own child’s aptitude for driving remote-controlled cars (and the objective difficulty of controlling the digital version of said car), it is this moment in Odyssey where Mario shows his true colors.

You see, Mario doesn’t need to steal the body of some poor man struggling to understand his son. He can possess cars too.

During his time in New Donk City, Mario has the opportunity to take control of a taxi with an orange bulb on its roof and go for a joyride.

Considering his unholy ability to fully embody both animate and inanimate objects, why on earth would a “hero” expend the effort to possess some poor besuited gentleman toying with an RC car? Wouldn’t it be more difficult to use a man like a controller to operate a remote-controlled vehicle than to just do it yourself?

The only reasonable conclusion is that Mario is no hero, and Cappy (his sentient hat) serves only to enable his sinister machinations. He enjoys his actions. Though considerably less spikey and guilty of fewer kidnappings than Bowser, Mario is the real monster.