It used to be that a plumber could jump down a couple of pipes, grab some coins, eat some mushrooms, and rescue a princess without much of an issue.
For decades, Nintendo has been the softer of the game companies. They have always been the more sterile, family-friendly brand. Mario, Link, Samas, Kirby… none of their big names ever perpetrated violence on actual people. The nature of their games has always been about fighting cartoonish monsters or aliens or turtles. Mind you, I’m talking about the games Nintendo exclusively produced, not necessarily all games that were available for their systems over the years. Though, looking back, they didn’t even give you a blood code option in the Super Nintendo version of Mortal Kombat (even though it was graphically superior and closer to the arcade than the Genesis version, let the debate begin).
Being the “safer” brand for kids has brough Nintendo much glory and profit. Say what you will about Call of Duty, Fallout, Battlefield, Skyrim, Mass Effect, or any of the other game franchises; even as adults, we’re want to pick up a good old fashioned Nintendo game from time to time.
The Super Mario franchise, being the flagship of Nintendo’s line, has always produced quality gaming. Sure, it might not be an ultra-realistic combat simulation or a sci-fi space drama with intense characterization or a post-apocalyptic romp through a mutant infested wasteland… but it’s still good old fashioned fun. The Super Mario Galaxy series for Wii is probably one of the most innovative, fun, and challenging platforming games ever made. Seriously, I defy you to tell me you don’t have fun playing it.
Nintendo-brand games, from Donkey Kong all the way up to Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, have always been family-friendly and fun; a finely-crafted formula which doesn’t come along often in our world.
That is, until PETA shows up and shits on everyone’s Froot Loops.
You read that right. PETA. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Going after Nintendo.
Their basis? The Tanooki Suit.
From PETA’s website (via The Daily What):
When on a mission to rescue the princess, Mario has been known to use any means necessary to defeat his enemy – even wearing the skin of a raccoon dog to give him special powers. Tanooki may be just a “suit” in Mario games, but in real life, tanuki are raccoon dogs who are skinned alive for their fur. By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it’s OK to wear fur.
For those of you just tuning in, let’s go over a bit of the history of the Tanooki Suit.
The Tanooki Suit made its debut in Super Mario Bros. 3 way back in 1989 (that’s 22 years ago, for those of you keeping score at home). Cited as one of the greatest video games of all time, Super Mario Bros. 3 brought our beloved overall-wearing hero the gift of flight via the use of a raccoon tail and ears earned by collecting a Leaf (save your retro-WTFs for the end of the lecture, class).
Flight via raccoon tail was a key element to the game, often allowing you to complete levels and/or access secret areas. Nintendo did us one better, however, and threw us an entire Furry costume. Mario dressed up like a full-on raccoon not only gave us flight, but the ability to turn into an invulnerable stone statue by pressing down + jump. The second function of the suit was really negligible, but it was still cool to see and made the Tanooki Suit unique in its application.
Even though its function was essentially the same as the much more common Leaf power-up, players often took the diversion to World 5 (Sky Land) to get their hands on the fabled Tanooki Suit when they could have easily just blown that second whistle from the warp zone and skipped straight to World 8.
Although people loved Tanooki Mario, after 3, the suit was kept out of Mario games in favor of newer power-ups. This was standard practice as every game had to have Mario doing something unique, such as the cape in the SMB3 follow-up Super Mario World for Super Nintendo. Any gamer worth his salt knows that the only three constants in Mario power-ups are Mushrooms, Fire Flowers, and 1-Ups (excluding SMB2, but that wasn’t REALLY a Mario game on a worldwide level).
In the interim, much Tanooki Suit merch was made. Vinyl statues, t-shirts, even a brown hoodie with raccoon ears. It remains one of the favorite power-ups of long-time Nintendo fans.
No doubt it was this popularity as well as the retro-factor which brought Nintendo to include the Tanooki Suit in the latest Mario Franchise offering, Super Mario 3D Land for Nintendo DS. And the fanboys rejoiced. At this point, people who played SMB3 in their Thundercats Underoos can now share the joy of the Tanooki Suit with their children (and surely wax nostalgic about how video games were so much better/harder/more back in the day).
Wonderful though that may be, PETA suddenly has a beef with something that originated on an 8-bit system 22 years ago and hasn’t been seen since.
Seriously. Damn near 30 years of Mario Bros. action and this is the only complaint PETA could have about the Franchise? How many turtles does a mother fucker have to stomp on? What’s wrong, PETA? Turtles aren’t as cute as “raccoon dogs”?
How about Yoshi? Yoshi has been the white man’s slave since 1990! Forced to eat anything that moves and lay its eggs only to have them destroyed (or callously thrown at shit, as in Yoshi’s Island)! Thrown off of cliffs to its death when you need a little more boost to your jump! Allowed to run off the edge of the screen and completely into oblivion, never to return!
And Bowser and the Koopa Kids? There’s a reason fire-breathing, spiky-shelled, lizard death machines are extinct, and it’s wearing a pair of blue overalls and a red hat.
I’m starting to think that being a vegan, with the lack of protein alone, causes severe brain damage. When you think Mario wearing a Furry costume warrants any kind of attention from your branch of insane activism, you may be taking life a bit too seriously. Either that, or there are some seriously fun mushrooms in your vegan diet which are doing more than giving you an extra life.
I didn’t see this sort of turn out when we were slaughtering innocent ducks by the thousands at the advent of the Zapper. I didn’t see protesters lining up outside the Death Egg to protest Dr. Robotnik enslaving all of those poor animals inside of robot suits, nor did I see them when the rare blue hedgehog and two-tailed fox were constantly tormented, chased, shot at, drown, and spiked to death.
And, where were you, PETA, when Roger Rabbit was framed?
Seriously, PETA, it’s not like Mario has to skin the “raccoon dog” before he puts on the Tanooki Suit. They leave that kind of shit to the Fallout franchise. It’s a dude putting on a costume. That’s all. Harmless as Halloween, as long as you’re not a turtle or a dinosaur death machine. Never in all my years of gaming did I see a tag on the Tanooki Suit that said “100% Real Japanese Raccoon Dog”. I’m sure if it were anywhere near a real thing, it would be composed of as much real fur as the average sports team mascot on a yiffing binge.
Lay off the pipe, PETA. The world has more important problems that a grown man dressed like a raccoon.
For the record, the Hammer Bros. Suit was the shit.
Keep fighting the good fight.