Here’s some unnecessary backstory on this article: I started working on it over a year ago at Nerd Underground. It was intended to be the second installment in a two-part series to honor Super Mario Bros.’s 30th anniversary.
The first part was meant to be a retrospective of sorts of the entire Mario franchise, and it would’ve covered all the Mario games I’ve played. The second part would’ve discussed my favorite Mario character. I like writing long, wordy articles about video game characters, so why not do so in commemoration of such a momentous milestone?
Unfortunately, I never did finish that first part. (And most of what I did write down was just me yelling at Super Mario Sunshine and Mario Pinball Land.) However, the second part was always going to see the light of day. Today, that day has finally arrived.
However, as powerful as I am, this wasn’t a project I could complete on my own. Please give a round of applause for…
PushDustIn, Source Gaming’s leader and anthropomorphic encyclopedia, for helping me research, and for aiding with edits.
Soma, one of our reliable translators. He translated a magazine scan into a language I understand.
Oakland or Kao, a good Samaritan who scoured old issues of Nintendo Power to provide me with pertinent information.
Finally, I’d like to thank Tris for helping with edits and offering commentary.
So, who holds the distinction of being my favorite Mario character? Well, I’m sure you can discern her identity considering this article’s title, but the honor belongs to…
I bought Super Mario Galaxy the year it come out, although I honestly didn’t intend to buy it so soon after its release. Sunshine and the oldest New Super Mario Bros., while solid games, left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. The former was an unfinished mess (albeit one with a fun utility knife in F.L.U.D.D.), and the latter was as mundane as a 2D Super Mario title could be.
I knew Galaxy would be a fun game – it’s a mainline Super Mario game, so of course it’ll meet that benchmark – but I wondered if I’d ever re-experience the magic that kept me playing the earlier titles.
I’m glad Super Mario Galaxy entered my collection that year. Playing it rekindled my love for Mario platformers with its novel gravity mechanic, its scenic environments, and its ability to provide homages to the past while also paving the way for a vivid, exciting future.
Super Mario Galaxy certainly wasn’t flawless, and I’m sure I’ll discover more problems with it as I continue to replay it. However, despite Galaxy’s imperfections, it’s still a fantastic experience, and it will go down as one of my all-time favorites.
And at the center of Super Mario Galaxy was Rosalina.
I mean that previous sentence literally, by the way. Galaxy’s hub, the Comet Observatory, is Rosalina’s home, and she hangs out in the center of it. Once you’ve passed Galaxy’s tutorial, you cannot boot up the game without seeing her. You also meet Rosalina in said tutorial, and she’s the one who whisks you off to the final confrontation with Bowser.
There’s more to her than being Mario’s (or Luigi’s) celestial guide, however. She’s the surrogate mother of the Lumas, a species of sentient stars. Together, they travel across the cosmos. All Luma have the potential to become planets, comets, or Power Stars, and Rosalina raises them as they search for where they’ll be “reborn.” Moreover, a certain planet holds sentimental value for her, and she has a tradition of visiting it with her children every century.
Rosalina also commentates Galaxy’s endings. The first happens shortly after Bowser’s plan seemingly dooms creation. After the Lumas propel themselves into the black hole, Mario finds himself floating in a multicolored void with a giant Rosalina. She then clarifies how the universe merely completed another cycle, and it’s about to be recreated in a slightly altered state.
Obtaining 120 Power Stars will grant you the bonus scene:
Rosalina was crucial in defining Galaxy’s personality, and her storybook cemented that. In an interview with Wired, Galaxy director and Nintendo veteran Yoshiaki Koizumi discussed his stance on stories in video games. In Galaxy’s case, he felt Rosalina and the Lumas required an explanation concerning their history and role within Mario’s universe. Shigeru Miyamoto isn’t big on stories, and Koizumi mentioned the inferred stigma of how “telling a story in a Mario game was something that wasn’t allowed.”
But Koizumi was pleased with the outcome of his and he feels it and Galaxy’s gameplay enrich each other. Furthermore, details that were cut from Rosalina’s storybook were integrated elsewhere into Galaxy‘s narrative. (The entire interview is interesting, by the way.)
An interview with Nintendo Power brought forth another interesting revelation: Rosalina’s storybook was secretly written by Koizumi under the cloak of night, where no wondering eyes could have learned of it. Miyamoto was intrigued by this admission, but Koizumi’s response was simple: “Yes, it was very important to me.”
There’s more to say, but we’ll revisit the storybook a little later. By the way, did you know that Rosalina’s design changed over Galaxy’s development? Prima’s collector’s edition Super Mario Galaxy guide also gave us this excerpt from the development team:
“In the early stages, we contemplated the idea that Rosalina was related to Princess Peach, so that is why their features are very similar. Her long bangs represent her outward strength and inner sorrow and loneliness.“
Rosalina’s next appearance was in Mario Kart Wii. Rosalina was a secret character, but she could be unlocked through three methods: have a Galaxy file saved on your Wii and play 50 races; earn, at minimum, a 1 Star rank for all eight cups in Mirror Mode; or complete a paltry 4,950 races. Clearly, the easiest process is the first option, so I’d wager that’s how most people unlocked her.
I’m not too invested in which character I play as in a Mario Kart game. If a character’s weight and steering capabilities match my sensibilities, I’ll use them. Mario and Koopa Troopa were my go-to racers in previous Mario Karts, but this time I gravitated towards Rosalina. I happened to like how the heavier racers handled this time – a first for me – and she happened to represent a game I recently enjoyed. Her Luma companion occasionally blocked my view, though.
Rosalina returned for Super Mario Galaxy 2. Being the direct sequel to Galaxy, it wasn’t a plot twist that she’d be present for Mario’s (and Luigi’s) second expedition to space, even with a reduced focus on the story. Adding to the inevitable, the Cosmic Spirit, Galaxy 2’s equivalent to the Super Guide, was a dead ringer for her.
Despite that, Rosalina kept a lower profile than she did in the first Galaxy; she doesn’t make her involvement known until Galaxy 2’s ending, where she thanks Mario (or Luigi) for fighting that “evil monster.” Lubba recognizes her, as the two evidently met on a prior occasion. More importantly, Rosalina reveals that she was responsible for mailing those letters to the baby Luma. The star-shaped companion then snatches the plumber’s iconic hat as a memento, and flies away to rejoin his mama.
If Mario (or Luigi) collect 120 Power Stars and defeat Bowser again, another cinematic will play after the credits. Rosalina and the Lumas gather in the Library, with the baby still happily clinging to the now unkempt hat. Rosalina begins orating a new story…
Upon the completion of that scene, Super Mario Galaxy 2’s post-game begins: the hunt for the Green Stars! Every galaxy is bestowed three hidden Green Stars for Mario (and/or Luigi) to locate. Some of them are hidden in plain sight, but most of them are trickier, sometimes requiring mastery of a certain power-up or intricate knowledge of Galaxy 2‘s level design. It was, up until this point, inarguably the best post-game in a 3D Super Mario.
Once you’ve earned 240 Stars, the final trial opens: Grandmaster Galaxy, and therein lies Galaxy 2’s greatest challenge. After countless tries, when your deity of choice finally acknowledges you and mercifully grants you the necessary strength, you’ll pass “The Perfect Run.” So… what’s waiting for you? What is your reward for clearing every challenge within Super Mario Galaxy 2?
You arrive on a small planet, reminiscent of the Gate from the first Galaxy. A small house, a hidden 1-Up Mushroom, the 242nd Power Star, and Rosalina are all that’s located here. Upon collecting the final Star, you’re whisked back to the Starship Mario. Rosalina accompanies you, as the final guest to take up residency in the hub world. In other words, the privilege to hang out with her is your reward for completing Super Mario Galaxy 2.
Rosalina reappeared for the Nintendo 3DS’s Mario Kart 7, again as an unlockable racer. A Luma wasn’t tethered to her this time, either, which would thankfully become the norm. The seldom few times I played Mario Kart 7, my game time was split between her and Metal Mario.
The Comet Observatory’s owner even had her own track this time: Rosalina’s Ice World. Despite its generic name, her track was appropriately decked out with Galaxy iconography.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U were first teased by Satoru Iwata during Nintendo’s E3 2011 conference, and the two games would properly be unveiled two years later. As a Smash fan, I’m always eager for character reveals, and my friends and I would always discuss who “deserves” to be in.
We were all excited to see the newcomers, and we’d all share our wish lists with each other. When asked, I’d express that the five characters I most wanted to see join the battle (within reason) where Ridley, Dixie Kong (or K. Rool), Shulk, Pac-Man… and Rosalina.
My nomination of Rosalina was primarily because I wanted a fighter who embodied Super Mario Galaxy. Masahiro Sakurai doesn’t overhaul a fighter once their moveset is established, so, at most, Mario might receive one move to represent the two Wii games. Plus, I believed Mario deserved a newcomer or two, being Nintendo’s chief breadwinner.
Rosalina, by this point, had become synonymous with Galaxy’s aesthetics. Mario Kart Wii’s Rainbow Road – which could be considered her racetrack – featured Star Bits raining from the heavens, and a few excerpts of Galaxy’s soundtrack were dispersed throughout its theme. Mario Kart 7’s Rosalina’s Ice World continued this trend.
To go one step further, I didn’t think it would be too outlandish for Rosalina to represent Galaxy’s gameplay mechanics. Gravity, Star Bits, Launch Stars, Pull Stars… there was plenty to work with. Give her standard attacks a space-themed veneer and she’s golden.
But, at the time, I wasn’t expecting her to appear in Smash yet, as she only had two mainline appearances and two Mario Karts under her belt. I figured she was still too new for Smash’s Wii U and 3DS iterations, but that she’d have a considerable shot for their inevitable sequels. Besides, Galaxy would unquestionably receive a stage, so I had that to look forward to.
Super Mario 3D World was the Wii U’s 3D Super Mario game. Mario, Luigi, Peach, and a blue Toad were publicized as its four main playable characters, with Captain Toad (also from Galaxy) getting a few exclusive levels tailored around his inability to jump. However, if you looked closely at a specific piece of artwork, you could barely see the Comet Observatory in the background…
Nintendo later spilled the beans: Rosalina was an unlockable character, and her special ability was the spin from both Galaxy titles. Furthermore, the world you unlock her in, “World Star,” borrows heavily from the Galaxy games in terms of enemies, aesthetics, and music.
Interestingly, it was Kenta Motokura who suggested adding her to 3D World’s ensemble. He wanted to incorporate a second female character, and he believed Rosalina earned a reputation after her roles in the Super Mario Galaxy and Mario Kart titles.
Miyamoto also admits in this Iwata Asks column how he was initially reluctant to feature her in Galaxy. He suggested she’d be redundant with Peach, but figured it’d be fine as a one-time occurrence. It took some time for him to become accustomed to her, I suppose.
Upon Rosalina’s promotion, I no longer believed I’d have to wait long for her to join Smash, even if 3D World itself wouldn’t influence Sakurai’s roster picks. 3D World did, however, convince me that Nintendo recognized Rosalina as a prominent figure in the Mario universe, and she would stick around.
Rosalina was announced for Smash on December 18, 2013 via a Nintendo Direct. She also happened to be the first newcomer to be officially revealed following E3, and she was quite a surprise considering her absence from the infamous Gematsu leak. Also, Rosalina’s design was adjusted slightly, as per Sakurai’s standard, to be more detailed.
Sakurai’s decision-making process is well-documented. We know he values a character’s uniqueness – as we may recall, this later helped tip the scales in Corrin’s favor – and, indeed, she looked fun. Between the Galaxy callbacks and her distinct “puppet master” fighting style with Luma, I figured I might be looking at a new main! …Or, that’s what I hoped, at least. I was concerned she would prove to be too complicated for me to use effectively.
Rosalina was confirmed for Mario Kart 8 immediately after her Smash reveal. Not that there should have been any doubt there; she’s had a perfect attendance record since her debut, and she established herself as a racer who isn’t expendable.
I like consistency, so I decided to main Rosalina in Mario Kart 8. I was hopeful she would become my main in Smash, so I figured I might as well maintain continuity and stick with her in Mario Kart, too. It helps that, once again, I preferred the heavier racers.
As far as Mario Kart 8’s advertisementing was concerned, Rosalina wasn’t merely another returnee; her announcement coincided with a trailer emphasizing her presence, and a Rosalina-themed deck of cards was one of two Japan-exclusive pre-order bonuses.
Additionally, just as Baby Daisy was added to the series’ proud mythos in Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 8 introduced Baby Rosalina. (A scandalous, canon-breaking move, which is a shame, considering the strong, thoughtful overreaching narratives the Mario franchise is acclaimed for.)
And, thankfully, I’d prove to not be awful with her in Smash, even if Mario is my more reliable choice. I’m no Dabuz, for sure, but I have my victories:
Moreover, to nobody’s surprise, Galaxy and Galaxy 2 were represented with a stage in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. One of the stage’s accompanying remixes blended the Comet Observatory and Luma themes from the former.
Furthermore, Rosalina wasn’t the only Mario newcomer to join Smash, as Bowser Jr. managed to sneak in. Interestingly, while all characters are decided upon from the onset, Bowser Jr. almost didn’t make it in. Thusly, Rosalina was the higher priority between the two Mario greenhorns.
During this period, Rosalina was confirmed to have two more appearances: Mario Party: Island Tour and Mario Kart Arcade GP DX. Considering that these four reveals happened at roughly the same time, I believe this is when some began bemoaning her presence. Anecdotally speaking, several of my friends started complaining whenever “Space Peach” appeared.
While she was unplayable in Island Tour, Rosalina later attended Mario Party 10 as a part of its roster. She retained her playability in the 3DS’s second Mario Party, Star Rush. Rosalina appeared in Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition too, also for the 3DS.
Captain Toad, the Mario universe’s lovable explorer, headlined his own spin-off, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, which built upon his playstyle in 3D World. Reaffirming the series’ affinity for deep lore, Treasure Tracker’s ending transitions into 3D World’s opening. However, a different ending was considered during development.
A Rosalina costume was among the many Mario can don in Super Mario Maker for the Wii U, and she participated as one of his guests in Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for the Wii U and 3DS. She evidently observed the previous competitions from her home, and she finally descended to join the fun. She only entered the Rhythmic Gymnastics event, however.
Furthermore, the multiplatform Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge introduced a Mini Rosalina. If you own a Rosalina amiibo and have yet to tire of the Minis’ mischief, you could command a Mini Rosalina across the Gravity Galaxy. In line with her namesake’s 3D World appearance, Mini Rosalina is a proficient jumper.
It’s common for the latest mainline Mario titles to influence the spin-offs, and Camelot wanted someone from Galaxy in Mario Tennis Open. Rosalina was on the list of potential entrants, but they ultimately settled on a yellow Luma. Regardless, the Galaxy Arena court was included alongside the star, and its theme should recall fond, comforting memories.
Later, Rosalina was a downloadable character in Mario Golf: World Tour, and a default member of the cast in Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash. She’s classified as a Power-type character in the latter, and she also happens to be the first female Power-type in the series.
As of this writing, Mario Party: Star Rush is Rosalina’s latest appearance. So, what’s next for her? Well, she missed Mario’s mobile debut, Super Mario Run. The Switch’s Super Mario Odyssey is the next mainline title, though so far only Mario, Peach, and Bowser are confirmed to return for it. Nevertheless, I’ll continue to play as her in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and, if I buy it, I’ll try to play as her in Mario Sports Superstars.
Rosalina’s prominence is relatively recent – 2013, specifically, with the one-two-three combo of her 3D World, Smash, and Mario Kart 8 reveals – but she’s affirmed her status as a Mario mainstay, even if she’s only been in about 20 games. Additionally, Rosalina appeared in the Super Mario-Kun manga, and merchandise has been made in her likeness, including two amiibo. Nintendo even featured her two years ago in honor of Women’s History Month.
Rosalina will continue to make appearances going forward, and perhaps she’ll achieve the star power to headline her own game someday.
So, what’re my thoughts on Rosalina?
How did she obtain the lofty honor of being my favorite Mario character? The primary reason is because she represents Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2. Both titles achieved new highs for the plumber and I’m a fan of them.
Rosalina cannot be divorced from those two games. As noted, she represents the duology’s personality, imagery, and audio. Basically, when I see Rosalina, I recall the great times I had exploring space. Conversely, my feelings towards Sunshine helped instill a dislike of Bowser Jr. While I did eventually warm up to Bowser’s favorite kid, it took years of disassociation with Sunshine for me to do so.
Speaking of Galaxy’s personality, let’s recall Rosalina’s somber storybook:
Quietly tucked away in the Comet Observatory is its Library, and therein Rosalina reads to her children. The room is relatively inconspicuous; I only stumbled upon its entrance after I had already beaten the game. A short cinematic starts as Mario (or Luigi) walks inside, with the Lumas having gathered for a story.
Rosalina’s tale stars her as a little girl, although it’s never explicitly stated. I read through the whole thing at once – apparently, you unlock more as you play through Galaxy – and I thought it was very charming.
I also approved of the noninvasive way in which it was injected into the game; if you’re uninterested, you’re never forced to bear it. Moreover, I found it compelling that a Super Mario game had a subplot concerning the themes of death and loneliness. In fact, Galaxy’s backdrop – the cold, black vastness of space – helped accentuate the sensation of loneliness.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any profound comments to add that haven’t been made elsewhere. Instead, I’ll link you to enjoyable pieces over at Abnormalmapping and Gamasutra. Then, once you’re done reading them, you can come back here and we can pretend I said those thoughtful things, m’kay?
Her backstory shaped her into the character we met in Galaxy, which is a nice segue to discuss her personality. I tend to be reserved in my everyday social interactions, so characters who’re more reserved tend to resonate with me. Furthermore, I especially prefer Rosalina’s stoic composure as a foil to her energetic colleagues, such as the extremely loud Daisy.
Rosalina’s voice clips in Mario Kart Wii make me chuckle because, at least in comparison to some of her peers, she sounds rather unenthused. Remember, it’s a Mario Kart game. Her rivals are throwing multicolored shells, turning into flying bullets, ink is impairing her vision, and someone just shrank everybody with that god-awful Lightning item.
Rosalina is unimpressed. She has spent an incalculable amount of time in space, raising her surrogate kids. She has seen the universe end and be reborn multiple times. She solemnly knows she will never see her own family again. Consequently, slipping on a banana peel wouldn’t instigate an analogous level of emotion. (And, if you were going to ask, yes, I don’t care for her subsequent voice actresses as much. Rosalina sounding energetic sounds off.)
Finally, she’s one of my two favorite characters to use in Smash, and she’s the favorite for Mario Kart and 3D World. So…
Congratulations, Rosalina! You’re a rising star!
…Hey, did you hear those juicy rumors? Assuming they’re true, I plan to give all two (or hopefully more) of the additional characters a “New Content Approaching” article.
Aside from that, I’ve done preliminary work on another installment in this verbose series. Just like how we chronicled my favorite Mario character, this next chapter will cover my favorite from another prominent franchise.
It’ll be a bit of a divergence for this series, however; heretofore, every character I’ve covered has been featured in Smash as a playable character, whereas that honor has eluded this individual.
I hope he isn’t put together the wrong way…
Mains: Mario (64), Mario and Dr. Mario (Melee), Wolf and Toon Link (Brawl), Mario and Rosalina (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)