The Princess Is In Another Freakin’ Castle?

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Last month, I had one burning question for Mario Bros. creator, Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto. I asked him why Princess Peach isn’t a playable character in the new Mario game, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which was just released yesterday.

He said:

Well, originally I thought it would be nice to have Princess Peach in there as a playable character, but in fact, the Toad characters have a physique that’s a little bit closer to Mario and Luigi. And in particular if we had one character out of the four that wore a dress, we would have to have a special programming to handle how the skirt is handled in the gameplay (laughs). And that’s the only reason that Princess Peach is not there.

However, when I popped in my copy of the game, I quickly found out why Peach really isn’t in the game: she had been kidnapped. By Bowser. Again.

I realize that New Super Mario Bros. Wii pays homage to the old NES games that we all loved in many ways — the 2D side-scrolling worlds, the coin-collecting and the damsel-in-distress storyline, of course. But, as gaming blog Kotaku pointed out, Peach has been carried away time and time again, even in the last Mario title, Super Mario Galaxy, praised for its innovative take on the Mario universe, yet still having the same old story.

By now, the princess’ constant abductions and habitual helplessness have become a running gag, even a permanent pop culture reference. While I have to laugh at Peach’s enduring ineptitude, after 24 years of appearing in Mario games, I have to wonder: couldn’t the game makers think of another plot device? Does it bother anyone that the paper-thin plot surrounding Peach is recycled every time a Mario game comes out, no matter what the gameplay elements? Do Mario games get a free pass because it’s Mario?