Is there a more iconic antagonist than the koopa king? Boswer, arguably the first major villain in gaming… but is he really that bad? We don’t think so, and today Chris Taylor defends Nintendo’s Godzilla.
Hello ladies and gentlemen, my name is Chris Taylor and I am the Advocate of the Devil.
Video games are a huge part of my life. I spent a good chunk of my professional customer service employment time working for a game store that shall remain nameless since… well, we can’t afford a lawsuit.
Man… when did Games Stop being fun. Right! They never did!
I would take just about every paycheck I got and toss it right back to the company that paid me. This was during the very beginning of the 360 PS3 and Wii generation, when said company was still selling retro games En Masse as well. And as a collector as well as a player, I needed them all.
I have no idea why I used the past tense there, it is still very much a requirement in my life, despite the lack of time.
No matter what age, or what mood happens to strike my fancy, I always turn back to the 2D platformer as my go to for quick fixes. Namely the mascot platformers. You’ve got your sonics and your Crash Bandicoots, sure, but let’s face facts. There is one face that IS the 2D platformer for any and all ages, and that is Mario.
At its most basic it’s a rescue the damsel in distress story. Even if that damsel is in another castle… over and over and over again. And the cursed thief of the royal hierarchy? Bowser. Scourge of the Mushroom Kingdom, he Godzilla’s his way into the role of the hated Heel, the Antagonist supreme!!
…. Buuuuut here’s the thing. Bad guy, I say he is not! I say he’s merely reacting in self defense, and this week’s episode dives into why!
I’m gonna preface this whole thing by saying that there is a world of difference between Villain and Antagonist. A villain is evil through and through. He’s Voldemort, he’s Hans Gruber, he’s… the guy in the Karate Kid that loses the last fight to Daniel-San but still learns a valuable lesson because teenagers don’t actually know what’s going on in their own heads.
But an Antagonist? He’s just the opposition to our Point of View character. In the Super Mario games… well it’s right there in the Title. Mario. He’s the guy we control, he’s the guy that is exploring this strange world, so naturally he’s our protagonist. Bowser is our opposition.
But he’s not a villain. He is merely the Antagonist.
Firstly, what is this world called? The Mushroom Kingdom. Kingdom. For all intents and purposes, Princess Toadstool, Peach, is NOT the ruling name in the land. That would be Bowser, AKA KING Koopa! It is right there in the name people!
So our intrepid heroes go through a magical pipe in Brooklyn New York and find themselves in this mysterious land. A land ruled by a King. And what happens when some newcomer invades an already occupied and ruled land?
Almost. A War is indeed what happens. A war between two brothers who eat mushrooms to grow bigger than the citizens of the land, eat flowers to set said citizens literally on fire, and the rulers of the land! Or in the first game, it’s just one singular ruler. Bowser, King of the Koopa’s.
There isn’t really a timeline here. The instruction manual doesn’t specify when Peach gets kidnapped. But in war, one does what one must in order to fend off their attackers. Mario and Luigi, if viewed from the eyes of the Antagonist, are attackers in his land! Kidnapping Princess Peach is a reactionary action brought on because the plumbers have invaded!
And why are they attacking? Why are they stomping around in a world that they are NOT a part of? For the same reason most people attack others: Because they look different.
Think about it. King Koopa looks like a Spikier version of Gojira, monstrous attacker of Post World War 2 Japan! He breathes fire, can throw hammers, at least in the earlier games, and has castles with lava pits in them! Sure, from an outside point of view these are all bad guy traits.
But that’s from an outside view! Mario and Luigi, the characters that we control, are the outsiders, in a land that they don’t fully understand. A world that they are not a part of! And their reaction to a giant dinosaur-like creature is to destroy the bridge that he’s standing on, that he’s DEFENDING, and set Bowser ablaze in the lava below!
That is an act of aggression that flies in the face of just about every “heroic” act that we human beings have deemed good and just in the world. It’s torture. Worse than that, it is certain death!
And BOWSER is the one seen as the villain here? But ladies and gents, that is not all. See, all that is just from the first game. And the second one, which only got released here as the lost levels because it was too hard.
And… honestly, rightfully so. I still haven’t gotten through more than a handful of levels in that game, and even then I was practically ripping my hair out trying to do even what little I did.
Going into future games in the series, we see another side of Bowser as well. Perhaps, a reasoning behind the madness. A protective side. Protecting his children!
Not only did Mario Mario and Luigi Mario flat out murder the ruler of a kingdom that they have no right to be in, but they straight up orphaned a bunch of little koopalings! Mario 3 and Super Mario World both have a set of bosses leading up to the big “bad” himself that, essentially, are Bowser’s children!
I can’t speak for myself, I am not a parent yet after all, but I’m sure there are a large number of current and potential viewers out there who either have or want children of their own. To those of you who are parents now, what would happen if someone were to attack your child?
Seriously, think about it. If that kid gets bullied in school, or later on when they’re out in the world, don’t you want what’s best for them? Don’t you want them to succeed at whatever it is that they’re striving for? And if someone WERE to attack them in some way, wouldn’t you want them to suffer in the most intense way possible.
Bowser has to sit and watch as the Mario Bros. run amok in HIS Mushroom Kingdom! Hurting his children! Of course he’s going to be angry. But that’s not the worst part.
See on top of all the stress that comes with raising a large set of children, he has the ADDED stress of being a ruler in a Kingdom… AND, being a single parent! Do you see a Mrs. Koopa anywhere in that family? No, you do not!
To me, that also explains why Bowser keeps kidnapping Princess Toadstool! He see’s his family, a broken home and a gaggle of little koopalings, and there’s no matriarchal figure to help raise them! To add a touch of compassion and empathy in the goings on in the Koopa family!
And along comes Mario, wreaking havoc in his land. Villain? I say a tragic hero, who deserves our support.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary I do hope I managed to shed some light into why Bowser, King Koopa, is not the villain in the Marioverse. Whether it be in the fact that he is KING of the Kingdom of Fungus, or just the fact that he is acting in self defense against the aggressions of a foreign invader, Bowser is merely a man… well, a Dinosaur. A lizard?
I don’t know what he is, but I DO know that he’s a parent, a SINGLE parent no less, just trying to do what’s right by his children.
As always, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button to keep up with everything we have going on here at Devious Advocacy, and click that link in the description below to join our Discord channel so you can argue with us personally.
I would also like to take this chance to give a HUGE thank you to those who have supported us on Patreon thus far. Muchos Appreciatos. And I’m sorry for making up words. It won’t happen again.. In this episode.
Most importantly, let us know in the comments below what your thoughts are! Did I succeed at making you feel sorry for Bowser? Maybe there’s a different villain you’d like me to defend, or maybe I’m just mistaken about everything. By all means, let your own views clash with my own… so that I may proceed to prove you wrong.
But for now, in the case of Bowser, King of the Koopa’s… The Defense Rests.
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