Today is the 10th March: It’s MAR10 Day! In order to celebrate MAR10 Day, we figured we would talk about our favorite Mario enemies!
Even though Shy Guy didn’t technically start off as a Mario character, he’s become a personal favorite of mine. Shy Guy started off in Doki Doki Panic, a game that was later skinned into a Mario game for Western audiences. Shy Guy come in various shapes and forms, but the white mask that covers their face is always present. My favorite version of Shy Guy is actually Gourmet Guy from Paper Mario (N64). I always quote his, “I’ve wasted away to nothing!” whenever I have to wait a long time for a meal or a snack. Unfortunately, I haven’t met anyone who understood that reference yet.
If I’m going to pick my favorite Mario foe, it’s going to be Rex, who appeared in Super Mario World. These guys appeared in the very first level and then not again until Cocoa Island. I also thought they were interesting because you have to stomp them twice. There are a lot of Mario enemies who make stomping dangerous with spikes and whatnot, so Rex adds a unique element that isn’t overbearing. Plus he looks goofy. It’s also funny how he gets all squished when being stomped once.
If I’m thinking about my favorite Mario enemies, it’s quite hard to decide between Koopa Troopas and Boos. There’s nothing quite like bouncing off of a Koopa Troopa and kicking the shell. Yet there’s something so oddly unsettling and even more oddly still cute about Boos. You often see them pop up in the 2D Mario games, as well as many of the 3D ones. They’ve even found themselves popping up in Luigi’s Mansion!
Of all of Bowser’s minions to pop up in the Mario Party series Spike is certainly an odd choice. He’s not that big of a Mario goon having only appeared in Super Mario Bros 3, the Yoshi games and then the New Super Mario Bros series. Yet he managed to nab a spot on the roster for Mario Party 10 and he really stands out. And that is why I like him. That tenacity and arrogance that he can stand next to the all-stars of the Mario series is amusing to me. It becomes even better when you play the Bowser Party mode and Spike is the captain because they refer to the cast of Mario as ‘Spike and friends’. The rest are not worth naming, it is all about Spike – the true hero.
I have a bit of a soft spot for the sub-con enemies from Doki Doki Panic/Super Mario Bros. 2. Due to that, my initial plan was to include Mouser as my pick. After some thought, though, I felt like he might be a bit of a cheat as he is technically a boss and this list is dedicated to generic Mario enemies. My runner up, and official selection, is Chargin’ Chuck. While not quite as cool as a bomb throwing mouse, a giant turtle in American Football gear is still a pretty fantastic idea. Chuck was first introduced in Super Mario World, and he was noteworthy for being tougher than the average enemy (taking multiple jumps to defeat) and also for having a pretty wide range of possible attacks. I don’t think you’ll find a tougher, or cooler, Koopa amongst Bowser’s grunts.
When I think of Mario, my mind completely goes to Super Mario Bros. 3. A game that not only revolutionized the 2D genre, but also introduced a lot of enemies into the Mario Universe. Out of all the enemies introduced, there is one you first encounter in Desert Land known as the Angry Sun. The menacing face he had combined with him being able to attack you from the sky made it seem as if it was a child’s nightmare. It’s a shame he hasn’t appeared in the new Mario games though. Hopefully we’ll see him return soon enough.
I think it’d be Boos. Such a simple concept, and I believe it’s a safe bet that most of us have died at least once trying to outsmart them and their programming. In my case, though, I remember the fun (and frustration) I had racing that multi-colored Boo in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe for the Game Boy Color. Even today I’ll go and find the cartridge at times to try my reflexes, since that one Boo is something ingrained in my memory as an intense race.
More than other series, Mario has always seen its cast of baddies as more obstacles than real villains, and each of the big ones – your Goomba, Koopa, and Hammer Bro – have specific roles in the game, demanding that the player express the physical language of the series in increasingly complex ways. As the franchise has gone on, new enemies (Conkdor, for instance) do the same thing, but they offer a narrower range of things the player can or has to do. They’re all fine, but they could really learn a thing or two from Lakitu, Shigeru Miyamoto’s favorite Mario character and one of the examples of how smart Super Mario Bros. is. It’s not just that Lakitu is super neat, with his diffident old man glasses or the way he lazily floats through the sky on his cloud; he fundamentally alters how the game works. Lakitu flies higher than Mario can reach, endlessly following him while dropping Spinies on the ground. Mario gets hurt jumping on Spinies, which makes the terrain less safe and forces him to out maneuver them. So Lakitu works like a combination of mobile obstacle, mini-boss, and way for Nintendo to keep expanding how players interact with the world. Mario has always been about both horizontal and vertical movement (most major Mario platformer have a new flight mechanic), but Lakitu was one of the first and best ways of making both an exciting hazard.
One particular, magic-wielding member of Bowser’s band of goons stands far apart from your ordinary Koopa Troopa; Magikoopas (referred to as Kameks in Japan and some European translations) serve as the elites of Bowser’s army, defending him and his Koopaling minions in the dingy bowels of their fortresses. At times, they can even be seen to act as the bosses themselves, conjuring enemies and obstacles from seemingly thin air in a manner particularly stressful for any meddling plumbers. One particular Magikoopa, Kamek, plays a crucial recurring role in Bowser’s conquest over the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond, not only serving as the Koopa King’s closest advisor but acting as a paternal figure to the young ruler in the Yoshi’s Island series, where he features as a regular antagonist. Kamek in particular found himself cheated out of a playable appearance in Mario Kart 64 by Donkey Kong, only seen in pre-release screenshots (OK, perhaps this line-up change is understandable). As well as in platforming titles, the Magikoopa breed of minions have been done great justice in a variety of Mario RPG spin-offs such as Paper Mario and the Mario & Luigi series, offering more unique variants on the traditional cannon-fodder foe such as the fearsomely intelligent Kammy Koopa, and not to mention ‘Jerry’ in Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, who only wishes to share his love and devotion to his fire-breathing king. Perhaps the most notable achievement of the Magikoopa species is the transforming of Luigi into an egg, which a collection of Chargin’ Chucks proceeded to use as an American Football in the Super Mario World animated series episode “The Yoshi Shuffle”. Whilst it’s unknown as to whether this rather fragile form of everyone’s favourite green plumber is regulation size, this must be commended as a rather impressive display of magical power, perhaps impressive enough to rival that of the great king himself… Check out Minus World here!
What’s your favorite Mario enemy? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!