Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sketch: Challenge Accepted

Got asked by a friend if Super Mario Bros. could ever be presented in a serious, literary fashion. He said he saw some show or movie that had attempted to do it differently, but not necessarily seriously. He mentioned Bowser as a gangster, and Luigi being hopped up on mushrooms. We joked back and forth for awhile, and later last night I lost some sleep over taking the concept seriously.

I thought about Mario and his profession first, how plumbing can occur on scales. As is my wont, I decided to make his larger. Instead of a handyman level plumber, I thought instead of making him a civil engineer. And to keep plumbing key, I pushed forward the idea of the turning of the industrial age, the transition from outhouses to centralized plumbing. I thought about what kind of grand undertaking that would be, how epic, all the muck and sweat, the earth and cement.

I thought of a kind of steampunk era New York, where an Italian-American industry man was working his way up from the bottom of the social order. In his home country, he would've had a good job, earned an excellent wage, been respected in his community. But alas, he believed too much in the legend of America. Came over, no doubt with a brother, and decided to roll the die on a new, more prosperous destiny. As a bit of a story turn, I thought it would be neat to present the New World as a myth, and the fantasy Mushroom Kingdom as the actual land of promise that he tumbles down into. The landslide is one of those industrial accidents that occurred fairly often back then. Too many unknowns pile together, and the low man on the pole gets shafted. All those not found are presumed dead, and the great machine presses on.

Except, he doesn't die. And his Wonderland is not the afterlife one would expect, but it is the inciting moment of the story. In the spirit of Jules Verne, I imagined the Mushroom Kingdom as a series of caverns of impossible size. Light coming from strange fungi feeding on the molten primordia of the center of the world. Strange creatures with stout dimensions and no familiarity with humans. Conflicts that a humble engineer from top side New York is hard pressed to understand.

The plot of the games was of the constant quest to rescue the princess from the villain. I think where everything before was a metaphoric touch up of those old, vague notions, the change of that plot point would be a direct diversion. Maybe the princess is fine, who would not be pretty and blonde, but likely not recognizably feminine, if still a respected monarch. Maybe she is fine, but the kingdom itself is in danger. Maybe there's war, and the protagonist falls down into the center. Believed to be the chosen one, or, at least in a position to be helpful. Maybe when the fire breathing demon turtle shows up to trigger the final battle, Mario tell him to find another castle.

Heh. End, and note.

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