The "Peachette" Controversy Reminds Me How Dark the Instruction Booklet for Super Mario Bros Is

It's "Save the Princess," and then some.

Nintendo showed off another Nintendo Direct presentation last week, which means we all gained another reason to freak out over some minute crumb of baffling Nintendo lore. From the same fandom that brought you "Mario Has Nipples?!" and "Let's Suss Out the Length of Luigi's Dingdong" comes a new controversy: "Are Princess Peach and Toadette the Same Species?"

The question blazed across social media seconds after Nintendo unveiled the trailer for New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe, a Nintendo Switch port of the overlooked 2012 Wii U adventure. The re-release replaces the original game's most forgettable character, Blue Toad, with the perky Toadette. That's a normal move by itself, but things got weird when the Direct fed us new footage of Toadette grabbing a crown power-up and, uh, transforming into a doppelganger of Princess Peach.

Now, "Peachette" still has some telltale markings that speak of her origins as a fungus—and thankfully, I don't mean she has one of those horrific stalks growing out of her head like you see on National Geographic footage of ants that've been zombified by malignant spores. No, Peachette boasts adorable Toad-style polka dots on her dress, plus she wears a rather shroomy-looking crown. But Peachette's moveset is very similar to Peach's, e.g. she's a strong jumper, and she can float after a leap. I think Peachette even emulates Peach's voice.

All this free sharing between Peach and Toadette has the internet wondering: Who / what is Toadette? Who / what is Princess Peach? Is Peach a mushroom person who can change her form at will like the people she rules over, but she prefers to stay in a human form? Is Toadette a long-lost mushroom royal who hides her identity so she can go on adventures without the burden of rule?

As usual, Occam's Razor ruins the day. Nintendo hasn't confirmed one way or the other, but chances are good the company simply wanted to insert "Peach" into New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe without going through the bother of re-writing it story (what would we do without another gripping "Bowser kidnapped Princess Peach" narrative?).

But as someone who's been a fan of the Super Mario series since day one, I think Nintendo has enough material to work with if it did decide to feed us some lore about Toads changing to humans, and vice-versa. Have you ever read the instruction booklet for the original Super Mario Bros? It's a bit dark and weird: I remember feeling unsettled by it as a little girl. Super Mario Bros was one of the first console games to give us a story, and even though that story was just "Save the Princess," it was still Pulitzer-worthy compared to the "Get a high score!" I was used to from Atari 2600 games. The Super Mario Bros instruction booklet goes one notch further by describing the black magic Bowser wielded during the siege of the Mushroom Kingdom, and how said magic enslaved its people (most of whom are turned into the very bricks you walk upon—for God's sake, Mario, don't punch frivolously! You're killing someone's grandmother!). Lest we forget, even lowly Goombas have a dark history: The Super Mario Bros instruction booklet informs us they're Toads who betrayed the Mushroom Kingdom and joined Bowser's side. I suppose they paid for their treachery with their arms.

Now, let's talk about why those Toads have belly buttons--wait, put me down. Don't you dare toss me out that "Exit" door!

What I'm saying is, Nintendo prepped me long ago to believe shape-changing isn't a very strange occurrence in the Mushroom Kingdom. If Nintendo wanted to feed me a narrative where Princess Peach and Toadette are from the same species but change their shapes to suit their needs (which I why Peach is happy being "human" first and foremost), I'd have no trouble gobbling it up. Alas, I doubt Nintendo's given this matter any serious thought beyond "We just wanted to shoehorn Peach into the game as easily as possible, all right? Thanks, everyone."

Fun sidenote: According to Legends of Localization, the English instruction booklet makes mention of Peach's father, "The Mushroom King," but the monarch is absent in the Japanese booklet. The Valiant Comics' Nintendo Comics System, which adapted Nintendo properties through 1990 and 1991, included the King in its adventures. Like his daughter, he was seemingly human. He was also technically too stupid to breathe, but he managed somehow.


Tagged with Analyses, NES, new super mario bros. u, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Retro.

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