September 13, 2017 may just be the day that Nintendo's innocence died. This seemingly innocuous Wednesday brought with it a video from Super Mario Odyssey that has forever changed the way people look at the red-capped plumber. There's one sequence which shows Mario running across a sandy beach. He is topped with his typical chapeau, is wearing some polka dot swim trunks, and, as to be expected of a male swimming, has no shirt. The part of this imagery that has sent the Internet into a whirl is not necessarily Mario's shirtless-ness, but rather a distinct part of his anatomy. Those in the know will recognize that I'm talking about Mario's nipples.
No one thought this day would ever come, and yet here it is. We are in fact talking about Mario's nipples. This subject was so widely popular when it was first revealed that I even received a designated email covering social media statistics for it. Turns out people were tweeting about Mario's nipples 4,000 times per hour when the Super Mario Odyssey video went live. Who knew that a single pair of male nips could cause such a hubbub!
Two different dialogues took off from this favorite classic Nintendo character's racy revelation. One is why doesn't Mario have any chest hair? I can understand this line of questioning. Mario's Italian, generally speaking he'd have a pretty reasonable amount of chest hair. Personally though, I'm not ready to see a hairy Mario. Nipples are great and all, but let's leave the realism there, yeah? The other most talked about subject, thanks to Mario's mammaries, is why in the world doesn't Link have nipples? I'm going to assume a very silly reasoning is behind this. Link is around age 17 in most of The Legend of Zelda games, if not even younger. On the flip side, Mario is most certainly an adult.
While all this is well and good, as there is nothing wrong with pondering over hairless nipples and nipple-less shirtless Link, there are bigger questions to ask. Is this maturing of Mario meant to lead to anything? Is Nintendo heading towards a more adult version of its typically child-oriented Mario games? Or is this an overarching recognition that nudity isn't so bad?
The prospect of a more mature and adult Mario game is simultaneously intriguing and horrifying. I've had my childhood ruined in a lot of ways, but a burly, hairy, shirtless Mario is where I draw the line. He's meant to be a cartoonish, child-friendly character. Slapping some nipples on him doesn't ruin that magic, but take it any further and we're stepping into unholy territory. On a milder note, if future Mario games keep his current appearance and add darker, more mature themes, that could be really fun to play. Add more realism in the storyline, and Mario might reach even more audiences than ever before.
Or perhaps Nintendo is just showing that they can be down with the cool kids. This is a far cry from bloody gore or bodacious bosoms, but perhaps a nipple-y Mario is the best they can do. It could be a subtle hint that Nintendo is not going to be a singularly family friendly company now and into the future. They're already working to bring much more mature games to their system via third parties. So Mario's body could be an indicator that Nintendo is growing up as a whole.
Of course, this could also all boil down to the artist working on Mario in Super Mario Odyssey. When they were tasked with drawing Mario on the beach, they possibly put nipples on him without a second thought. Everyone has nipples, so why wouldn't Mario? We like to create theories sometimes when perhaps the reality is simple. No matter what the reasoning is behind Mario's nips, they're there, and we'll have to see how much we actually get to see them in Super Mario Odyssey.