Monday, July 10, 2017

Mario Spin-Offs: My Ideal Roster

Disclaimer: I originally started this article months ago and have struggled to finish it until recently.  Since then, a lot has changed, and new information has come to light.  I've tried to change what I've written accordingly, but if some spots sound weird or outdated here and there, well, there's your reason.  Apologizes in advance if any of this is confusing.

So I'm playing Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 on my Wii U's Virtual Console, and I thought to myself, "There's a nice selection of characters in this game, for its time anyway...  Why can't all Mario spin-offs have rosters like this?" See, it feels like lately Nintendo's been throwing in random "new" characters to their spin-offs while neglecting old favorites; Mario Kart 8 and even it's Deluxe Switch counterpart are the most recent and notorious example. It makes me wonder who decides these things and why they thought people would want to play as Baby Rosalina or Pink Gold Peach of all things... And it's a good thing Link was originally bundled with Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach as DLC for the former, otherwise I would seriously question who at Nintendo thought people would pay extra money for such uninspired characters...

So with that in mind, if I was working at Nintendo, and I was head of whatever group decides what characters should be in a Mario spin-off, who would I pick? Now, obviously, there are some factors that affect who gets chosen or not; some characters are not adequately build for certain spin-off, such as being too big or too small.  Of course, the Mario series has always been fickle when it comes to that sort of thing, but that doesn't mean there are still some unspoken rules for some spin-offs.  Mario Party, for example, is a series where Bowser will never be one of the main playable characters, given that his whole thing in those games is to mess things up for the actual players.  If he IS playable in Mario Party, it's through a special mode or mini-game like in Mario Party 10.  There's also the size of the roster, you can only have so many characters before things start to get overwhelming.  The exception is Mario Baseball games which are build around having lots of characters to build 9-player teams out of (incidentally, I REALLY hope we get a dedicated Mario Baseball game for the Switch, the one on the 3DS game Mario Sports Superstars just feels REALLY lackluster).

So that being said, the characters and roster ideas I mention are going to be games like Mario Kart, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, that kind of thing.  This will be broken down into 5 sections: "Gold Standard", "Other Favorites", "Playable Generics",
"Potential Newcomers", and "Pipe Dreams", and I'll explain what they mean as I go.  Also, this will only pertain to Mario characters, no other Nintendo characters or third/fourth party characters allowed on this list, otherwise this could go on forever.  With all that out of the way, click the break to see what characters I'd have in my ideal Mario spin-off!


Gold Standard

This is a line-up that I feel needs no justification for their inclusion in basically every single Mario game, spin-off or otherwise.  They're the most popular characters in the series as well as the most recognizable, and most of them have appeared in more spin-offs than any other character.  Think of this roster as the "default" in which all spin-offs, past, present, and future should be judged by.  Who am I talking about?  Why these all-stars of course!
  • Mario
  • Luigi
  • Princess Peach (Toadstool)
  • Toad
  • Yoshi
  • Wario
  • Waluigi
  • Princess Daisy
  • Donkey Kong
  • Diddy Kong
  • Bowser
  • Bowser Jr.
  • Rosalina
  • Toadette
  • Birdo
Now Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Yoshi, Bowser, Wario, and Donkey Kong need no further explanation for their presence.  They're what's called "The Big 8", in that every Mario game, major and minor, stars them, including those who star in their own sub-series of games!  The rest may take a bit more explaining...

Waluigi and Daisy, on the other hand, are different in that they're probably the most popular Mario characters who aren't part of the Big 8, despite being relatively minor in the grand scheme of the series.  Daisy has only appeared in on Mario game that wasn't a spin-off of some kind, and even said game, Super Mario Land, isn't a mainstream Mario game (as fun as the game is, it and everything besides Daisy from it have faded into obscurity).  Meanwhile, Waluigi has only appeared in spin-offs EXCLUSIVELY, and that combined with his ridiculous name and silly concept have basically made him a joke and go-to gag for not only Mario characters, but "roster filler" as a whole.  Despite that, both characters have their own fanbases, with Daisy fans pushing for more notoriety for her (including being playable in Super Smash Bros.) and Waluigi fans pushing for an official appearance in a mainstream Mario or Wario game (I'm a bit of a Waluigi fan myself).  Regardless of their faults, they've been consistently appearing in Mario spin-offs since the late Nintendo 64 era and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Bowser Jr. and Rosalina have their own story, though, in that they're fairly new Mario characters that have jumped up to being spin-off regulars in their own right.  Weird, considering I've seen just as many vocal haters for both of them as I have fans.  People hate Bowser Jr. for being a simple mini-Bowser look-alike and not having much to him besides that, and the fact that he's Bowser's son puts him at odds with Koopalings fans, since the Koopalings were Bowser's original children before Miyanoto arbitrarily decided to retcon that detail for no good reason and just made things more confusing and infuriating (my head-cannon is that they're Bowser's adoptive children, meaning that Bowser Jr. is the heir to the Koopa Kingdom but Bowser still treats the other Koopalings like their his own).  As for Rosalina, I think hate might be a strong word, but I've seen people dismissive of her, saying her design is "lazy", that she's just "space Peach in a blue dress", and that she's far too recent to be a true Mario mainstay, and that she hasn't got the history to back her up.  Thing is, that doesn't change the fact that they're both still popular characters; Rosalina was featured in two popular mainstream Mario games and was one of the few Mario characters to get her own backstory (in Super Mario Galaxy, the library scenes), and as much as I prefer the Koopalings as Bowser's children to Bowser Jr., the father-son dynamic Bowser has with Junior creates interesting scene and adds more depth to Bowser as a villain that hasn't been explored before, whenever Nintendo bothers to explore it.  Regardless, the fact that both of them are playable characters in Super Smash Bros. now speaks for itself in regards to their popularity and why they're not going away anytime soon.

But the weird thing about popularity is that even that's not enough to guarantee you sometimes.  Take Diddy Kong for example; he's the Luigi to Donkey Kong's Mario, has appeared in every Donkey Kong game since his debut in Donkey Kong Country, and even starred in the sequel to that game, and started becoming a regular in spin-offs around the time the Donkey Kong characters that Rare created went to Nintendo after their departure from Nintendo and acquisition from Microsoft.  These days, it's easy to say you can't have Donkey Kong without Diddy Kong...  Yet he's nowhere to be seen in Mario Kart 8.  Or even Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which finally included Bowser Jr., who was absent for the original game.  To this day, I can't understand why Nintendo wouldn't include such a popular, notable character, other than they wanted to make room for Baby-freaking-Rosalina...  Oh well, there's always DLC, and that aside, Diddy Kong IS consistent in every other Mario spin-off.

Which leaves us with Toadette and Birdo, both are interesting cases though not for the same reasons.  Toadette is like Waluigi, making her debut in a spin-off as a female counterpart to Toad, and taking off from there.  Much like Waluigi, who was created to be partners with Wario, Toadette was created to be partners with Toad, but unlike Waluigi, Toadette has managed to make some notable appearances since her debut, such as an instructor in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, and Captain Toad's partner in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker!  That being said, her appearances haven't been AS consistent as, say, Waluigi or Daisy, but she's still made a number of appearances in the odd Kart, Party, and sports game, and hey, she even got in Mario Kart 8 over Diddy Kong, so that's something!  Birdo's another story, though; she initially appeared in Super Mario Bros. 2, which yes was originally a different game in Japan but TECHNICALLY it was originally a tech demo featuring Mario characters before that so there, and since then she's made occasional appearances, from cameos like in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars to assist roles like in Wario's Woods.  It wasn't until Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 that she started appearing in Mario spin-offs proper, and was a regular in Mario Kart, Mario Party, Mario Tennis, and Mario Golf from there... until she kind of wasn't...  She's oddly absent in the most recent installments (save Mario Golf: World Tour, where she's an unlockable character).  That being said, she's been in enough spin-offs to not be fully forgotten, and given her appearance and her infamous gender controversy, I doubt it'd be easy to truly forget her!

Wow, this is turning out longer than I thought!  I hope you're all still with me, because it's time to move on to our next section!

Other Favorites
 
These are characters who are just shy of being part of the "Gold Standard", characters who have appeared in plenty of spin-offs, or were even just popular characters at one point in time.  If the Gold Standard characters were the default, these are the unlockables!  Or something close to that at least.  These characters include...
  • Koopalings
    • Larry Koopa
    • Morton Koopa Jr.
    • Wendy O. Koopa 
    • Iggy Koopa
    • Roy Koopa
    • Lemmy Koopa
    • Ludwig von Koopa
  • Kamek
  • Toadsworth
  • Petey Piranha
  • King Boo
  • Nabbit 
  • Sprixie/Sprixie Princess
  • Baby Mario
  • Baby Luigi
  • Baby Peach
  • Metal Mario
  • Dixie Kong
  • Funky Kong
  • King K. Rool 
The Koopalings in particular are complicated.  After their debut in Super Mario Bros. 3, they made subsequent appearances in Super Mario World and the spin-off Yoshi's Safari (an SNES game that used the Super Scope), as well as appeared in the cartoon adaptations of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World.  After that, aside from the odd cameo like in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, they basically just disappeared, forgotten without a single mention of them...  That is, until New Super Mario Bros. Wii brought them back!  Now they're in almost every other Mario game you can think of, including Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe!  Now this is good news for me, because I freaking LOVE the Koopalings!  On top of being Bowser's children, which is already an interesting dynamic as I've said before, they each have a unique look and design to them, so you can pick your favorite among them (I personally like Larry the most)!  Of course, they're sudden resurgence has led to a backlash, since people either prefer Bowser Jr. or think they're a waste, since there's only so much you can do with them as boss characters.  And it's true, they do take away from potentially unique boss characters and unique boss fights, but I still like them and would like them to appear in as many games as possible.  Of course, I'm also of the opinion that you can't just have one or two, you need all seven of them, which is a problem because that's a lot of characters; it could potentially take up half a roster or even more, depending on the game you're playing!  Hence why I think they're good for games that are designed around a large character selection, like the Mario Baseball games and, of course, Mario Kart.  Otherwise, as much as I like them, I can't see them appearing in many other spin-offs.

Other characters, though, like Kamek, Toadsworth, Petey Piranha, and King Boo have enough fans and are relevant enough to warrant a spot in all kinds of potential spin-offs, though their relevancy depends on the character.  Kamek is odd in that he looks like a generic Magikoopa ("Kamek" is even the name of Magikoopas in Japan, the "Kamek" we know is called "Fang" in Japan, to differentiate him), yet is established as Bowser's foster father in the Yoshi's Island games.  On top of that, he's usually depicted as Bowser's right-hand man, especially in the RPGs.  He's being used more and more, so I'd say definitely include him, but give him a more unique design to have him stand out more, maybe decorate his robes and hat with the patterns that you see whenever he casts a spell.  Toadsworth, on the other hand, is in an awkward situation, in that he hasn't made a major appearance after Super Mario Galaxy (which was the first mainstream Mario game not to feature him).  He still appears in spin-offs and the Mario & Luigi series, though, not to mention being Princess Peach's steward he should technically be an important character, so I see no reason to just suddenly ditch him like that.  If Toadsworth can play baseball, he most certain can play at least golf and drive a kart!  Then there's Petey Piranha and King Boo, the "odd boss duo" as I like to call them.  These two have seen a fair amount of appearances in spin-offs, though King Boo seems to be more popular and consistent compared to Petey, which is a shame since I kind of like Petey Piranha.  Incidentally, I've seen people call Rosalina the new Petey Piranha, in that she was popular after her initial debut but "will fall out of popularity" the same way.  Well, she isn't losing popularity anytime soon, and even though Petey hasn't been playable in a while, he's still popular enough to make appearances in numerous spin-offs, RPGs, etc.  As for King Boo, nothing really to add, though I like the idea that he's to Luigi what Bowser is to Mario.  The only thing I'd add is that I feel like he should look more like his Luigi's Mansion incarnation as opposed to his generic Boo with a crown look he usually sports. 

Now for Nabbit and the Sprixies, who in a weird way are almost the new Bowser Jr. and Rosalina, in that they're both relatively new additions that made the leap into Mario spin-offs quickly.  Nabbit is not only playable as a DLC character in Mario Golf: World Tour and Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, he also essentially took Mario's place in New Super Luigi U as the fourth playable character!  He DOES have a unique design, and I can totally see him in future spin-offs!  As for the Sprixies and Sprixie Princesses, they've only appeared in Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash so far, which was already kind of unexpected, but they are pretty cute, and I do think Nintendo can utilize them in various ways, given that the Sprixies aren't quite well-defined yet in what they can do and what makes their home world so different from the Mushroom Kingdom.  I don't see them reaching Rosalina levels of popularity, but I wouldn't be against future appearances, either.

This next part is a touchy subject: baby characters in Mario spin-offs.  They've been around since at LEAST Mario Golf for the Nintendo 64, with Baby Mario making the most appearances, but their appearances outside of a Yoshi's Island game where they serve a gameplay purpose are getting out of hand.  That being said, it'd be weird to suddenly drop them, since I guess they are pretty popular, so I'd at least keep Baby Mario (since he's been around the longest), Baby Luigi (since you can't have Mario without Luigi, in my humble opinion), and Baby Peach (since she's made appearances in Yoshi's Island DS and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time).  Baby Daisy and ESPECIALLY Baby Rosalina, though, are definitely getting the boot the moment I take charge.  By the same token, I'd remove Pink Gold Peach in a heartbeat (and also Gold Mario), but I'd keep Metal Mario.  I can't really explain why, but the fact that he's a playable character in Mario Golf, and a boss in Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee, helps me think that Metal Mario can be viewed as a separate character from Mario.  At the very least, I'm okay with him (and Dry Bowser to an extent, but I'd prefer to have as little duplicate characters as possible).

Lastly, regarding Donkey Kong characters; initially, Nintendo wasn't sure if they could use characters from the games Rare made, since they were technically a second-party developer, but after Rare got bought by Microsoft, all the Donkey Kong characters Rare made went to Nintendo and thus Nintenndo was free to use them however they wanted, hence why Diddy Kong is a regular.  The other characters, though?  Well, Funky Kong made an odd (but welcome) appearance in Mario Kart Wii, and Dixie Kong was in both Mario Baseball games, and is typically a fan-favorite overall.  King K. Rool has a HUGE following of fans begging for his return, either in the main Donkey Kong series or otherwise, and he DID appear in Mario Super Sluggers, so I can most definitely see all three of them appearing in future spin-offs!

But wait, aren't we forgetting some other favorites?  Well, that brings us to...

Playable Generics 
There have been a number of playable characters who represent an entire species of either NPCs or enemies Mario and co. face.  Many of them are just as beloved as the established characters!  I do like a few of them as well, but at the same time, I don't want them to overshadow the actual characters...  Still, I can see these characters being regulars or semi-regulars going forward.
  • Koopa Troopa
  • Koopa Paratroopa
  • Dry Bones
  • Shy Guy
  • Boo
  • Hammer Bro
  • Pianta
  • Noki
  • Monty Mole
  • Wiggler
  • Kremling
Koopa Troopas are Bowser's main troops and have appeared playable in many spin-offs since Super Mario Kart.  Koopa Paratroopa, similarly, has made frequent appearances since Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64.  In a way, I see Koopa Troopa as a Mario Kart and a Mario Party kind of guy, while Paratroopa I see as a Mario sports kind of guy, but they are by no means exclusive.  Plus, Paratroopa's flight and added mobility would give him unique properties compared to a normal Koopa Troopa, so I can see them being playable within the same game.  Dry Bones, I consider to be an "ensemble darkhorse" of Mario enemies, after an extended period of not appearing in any major Mario games from Super Mario 64 to Super Mario Sunshine (outside of RPGs), he suddenly becomes a playable character in Mario Superstar Baseball, then Mario Kart DS, then Mario Party 7, until he's eventually brought back in full force in New Super Mario Bros., and was brought back to being a regular.  Admittedly, a skeletal Koopa Troopa is a cool design in concept, not to mention the fact that they reassemble when they fall about making a unique gimmick as far as enemies go; thus I feel Dry Bones will continue to appear in spin-off AND mainstream Mario games going forward.

Speaking of fan favorites, Shy Guys are also common as playable characters in spin-offs, even though their appearances in mainstream Mario games are limited.  There IS a definite appeal to them, they look cute, and they have a variety of looks, powers, and abilities.  I feel like Shy Guys are the go-to Mario enemies to use in spin-offs, besides Koopa Troopas.  Same goes for Boos, they're a regular in almost every spin-off save Mario Kart, where they're usually an item or an obstacle if they appear at all.  The cute/creepy look definitely helps their appeal.  Hammer Bros., though, is an enemy that I thought would get more attention then it does.  They're playable in Mario Party 8 and in the Mario Baseball games, but not much else besides that.  Maybe it's because they're such annoying enemies to deal with, people don't want to play as them, which is kind of the opposite of me; because they're so infamous, I want them to appear more often.  Weird, I know...  Similarly, Monty Mole doesn't appear playable that often, mostly just the Mario Baseball games, but I feel there's untapped potential with him.  I could totally see a Monty Mole in Mario Party, Mario Tennis, and Mario GolfMario Kart might be tricky, since there are Monty Moles on some courses, but then again, that didn't stop Wiggler from being playable in Mario Kart 7!  And since Wiggler is also playable in Mario Power Tennis and Mario Super Sluggers, I'd say there's precedence in letting him (or her?) be playable in more spin-offs!  The whole "normally sweet but gets really angry" thing can be used for great comedic effect as well as for certain special moves, not to mention transforming into a Flutter!


Other species I figured would get more attention are Piantas and Nokis, the main residents of Isle Delfino in Super Mario Sunshine.  Out of them, Piantas seem to be more popular, since they're in more games than Nokis, but they're both playable in the Mario Baseball games.  Maybe Nintendo just wants them to be spectators and audience members than actual participates in events, though I think that if generic Yoshi, Koopa Troopas, Shy Guys, etc. can be audience members AND playable characters, so can Piantas and Nokis.  Lastly, there are Kremlings, specifically Kritters, which is weird considering they're Donkey Kong enemies, but that didn't stop them from being playable in Mario Super Sluggers and being goalies in the Mario Strikers games!  With more Donkey Kong characters appearing in Mario spin-offs, I'd say they're more than likely to appear in more as well, though it's more likely we'll see established characters like Diddy, Dixie, King K. Rool, etc. before them.

That about covers what kind of generic NPCs and enemies I'd make playable in Mario spin-offs, yet I still can't help but want more.  We've covered characters who have been established as being capable of being in spin-offs, but what about characters who have yet to appear playable in a spin-off?  That brings me to...

Potential Newcomers

There's always room for more characters in Mario spin-offs, and with an ever-expanding cast with each new game, there are only going to be more new characters ripe for showing up in spin-offs!  For this list, though, I'm going to try to be reasonable with who I'd pick, characters who are either popular or relevant enough to have a shot at being in a new Mario spin-off.  It's a bit difficult, but here's the list I've come up with.
  • Dr. Mario
  • Professor E. Gadd
  • Boom Boom
  • Rocky Wrench
  • Chargin' Chuck
  • King Bob-omb
  • Mini-Mario
  • Whomp
  • Ashley
  • Captain Toad
  • Whittle
  • Cranky Kong
  • Pauline
I know I said I'd prefer non-duplicate characters, but if you're GOING to have yet ANOTHER alternate version of Mario, you might as well go with Mario's most famous alter-ego!  I can see Dr. Mario-themed powers, karts, and abilities for Dr. Mario should he start appearing in Mario spin-offs, and it's honestly weird that Nintendo didn't think of adding him to such spin-offs sooner.  I mean, it'd be no weirder than adding a baby version of Mario, or a metal version of him, or a version of him wearing a Tanooki suit.  Speaking of obvious additions, why hasn't Professor E. Gadd appeared in any Mario spin-offs?  I mean, Mario Kart should be the most obvious one, but since Toadsworth is in the Mario Baseball games, and since E. Gadd has been shown to get down and dirty in the Luigi's Mansion games, I can't see why he can't be allowed to participate in a game of Golf at least.  It's weird how he often appears in some spin-offs as an NPC but never a playable character.  I mean, I'd play as him, at least.

Boom Boom, Rocky Wrench, and Chargin' Chuck are of a similar kind, since they're all old enemy characters that have recently been brought back!  Well, technically, Rocky Wrench has been in several recent games, but the idea remains the same.  They were all memorably enemies back in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, and are now back in the likes of Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World!  Boom Boom was even a goalie in the soccer segment of Mario Sports Superstars, why not upgrade him to being fully playable?  And Chargin' Chuck is MADE to be in Mario sports games, and NOT just because he's dressed like a football player!  These guys do all kinds of stuff in Super Mario World, I REALLY want to see him in spin-offs!  Rocky Wrench, I mostly just want to see him in the next baseball game, with a wrench as a baseball bat. :P

King Bob-omb, Whomp, Captain Toad, and Whittle are different in that they've made consistent appearances and seem perfect for spin-offs yet haven't been made playable in them yet (unless you count Captain Toad's spin-off game).  King Bob-omb has had fairly consistent appearances in spin-offs, but has yet to make a playable appearance, and I don't see why he can't be made playable, not even his size.  Yeah, I think Honey Queen's appearance in Mario Kart 7 pretty much made size in Mario spin-offs moot when it comes to playability.  Same goes for Whomp, too; a moderately popular enemy that's used once every so often, but his design feels like it was made for spin-offs like Mario Kart or even Mario Tennis; as slow stone-wall type of player, you know?  Captain Toad's popularity, to the point of getting his own game, should give him reason to be playable in Mario Kart at least.  I think it's been established that Captain Toad is a different character from the Toad we've known for years, but even if they weren't, that hasn't stopped Nintendo from reusing the same character over and over.  Whittles are awesome new NPCs, people made of wood with cute appearances.  I'm surprised they haven't made a major appearance since Super Mario Galaxy 2.  I just REALLY want to see these little guys more!

Lastly we have Mini-Mario, Ashley, and Cranky Kong, who would be unique new additions in that they don't QUITE fit the established criteria.  Mini-Mario, as in those Mario toys from the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series SEEM popular enough to appear in games outside of those ones, but aside from brief cameos here and there they have not.  Why this is, I don't have a clue, but I think it hinders their chances a bit.  Still, as long as Nintendo keeps making Mario vs. Donkey Kong games there's always a chance!  Ashley's another odd case, we haven't seen a character originate from a Wario game in a Mario spin-off, despite Donkey Kong characters being regulars, and I don't know why that is.  Maybe it's because Wario's games aren't as popular, but WarioWare is a fairly popular series, and Ashley in particular is the most popular character from that series.  I feel like if anyone from Wario's games is going to start being playable in Mario spin-offs, it's her.   As for Cranky, I think the fact that he's a crotchety old geezer is the only thing keeping him from being playable in Mario spin-offs, since other Donkey Kong characters have shown no such problems making appearances in them.  That being said, there ARE certain spin-offs where the elderly like him, E. Gadd, and Toadsworth can be made playable, and in that respect, I think he should show these whippersnappers how video games are done, if you know what I mean! ;)

...And this is initially where I was going to end this particular section, until a character formerly in the next section made a sudden appearance in this year's Super Mario Odyssey E3 trailer!  That's right, Pauline's back as New Donk City's mayor in Mario's next upcoming game for the Nintendo Switch!  It's weird that I say she's "back", though, in that she's technically been back since Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis and has appeared in every Mario vs. Donkey Kong game since then, but much like how the Mini-Mario's aren't acknowledged outside of that game, neither is Pauline, at least not much.  Also weird is the fact that this is the first mainstream Mario game she's ever appeared in.  The original Donkey Kong had the ape himself get top billing with Mario getting called "Jumpman" and Pauline getting called "Lady" (although Japan seemed to miss the memo on that and confusingly labeled "Lady" a separate character).  Pauline's only other appearance before Mario vs. Donkey Kong was in the 1994 Donkey Kong Game Boy game, essentially a remake of the arcade game before expanding into a lengthy, epic puzzler!  Regardless of her limited appearances, Pauline's sudden resurgence in Mario's next biggest title leads me to think Nintendo could start using her more, including putting her in spin-offs...  Only time will tell, though.

Alright, this is getting REALLY lengthy, far longer than I anticipated, but don't worry, we're almost done!  I just need to get self-indulgent with some...

Pipe Dreams

These are characters who by this point don't stand even a remote chance of ever appearing in a Mario spin-off, unless something new happens that changes things up a bit.  Regardless, I REALLY want to play as them in Mario Kart, Mario Party, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, Mario Baseball, etc.  Bear with me for a moment as I go over characters who should make a comeback in Mario games and start being playable in spin-offs!
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Foreman Spike
  • Stanley the Bugman
  • Blue Bowser
  • Mouser
  • Wart
  • Tatanga
  • The Kings from Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Captain Syrup
  • Mad Scienstein/Dr. Arewo-Shitain
  • Vampire Wario
  • Il Piantissimo
  • Broozer
  • The Chimp
The weird thing about two of these guys is that they actually DID appear in spin-offs before; Donkey Kong Jr. and Foreman Spike, to be exact!  Donkey Kong Jr. was one of the 8 racers in the original Super Mario Kart (along with Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool [later Peach], Yoshi, Bowser, Toad, and Koopa Troopa), and was a playable character in Mario's Tennis for the Virtual Boy and Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64!  Since then, though, aside from cameos like in Super Mario Maker and the like, he's rarely seen.  Of course, there's the whole "the current Donkey Kong" thing that Rare started but Nintendo didn't acknowledge but kind of did later on, but now it doesn't and it's all just a really confusing mess...  but even IF DK Jr. is the current DK, that hasn't stopped younger versions of other characters from being playable, so I say, why not bring back DK Jr.?  As for Foreman Spike, AKA the main antagonist of Wrecking Crew and one of the few villains Mario had before Super Mario Bros. and Bowser, managed to make an appearance in Mobile Golf, a Japan-exclusive Game Boy Color game that could be connected to your mobile phone for online play.  His appearance in this game is EXTREMELY odd and seemingly out of nowhere, especially given that his spot could have easily been given to Wario, who was growing in popularity at the time.  Regardless, outside of a Mystery Mushroom costume in Super Mario Maker, Foreman Spike hasn't seen the light of day since then, which is a shame because I like his design, essentially a big, gruff construction foreman with a big burly beard and shades.  I think his construction theme would be pretty cool in spin-offs, driving a bulldozer or something similar as a Kart in Mario Kart and hey, he has history in golf, so it wouldn't be out of place!  Fingers crossed he'll get a full-blown return one of these days (Pauline suddenly came back, so who knows).

The two next characters have had no such luck, and I doubt anyone else remembers them.  Stanley the Bugman is the hero of Donkey Kong 3, where Donkey Kong invades his greenhouse with an army of insects in order to sample the tasty fruit there, and it's up to Stanley to drive off the bugs AND Donkey Kong.  That is Stanley's ONLY appearance outside cameos in Super Smash Bros. as trophies and/or stickers.  Still, with some people calling him the third Mario brother, I think he's well-known enough to warrant a revival.  But if you think THAT'S obscure, get a load of this: on the Famicom Disk System version of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, there was a brown-and-blue Bowser fought on world 8-4 before the actual Bowser.  According to Encyclopedia Super Mario Bros., this is NOT a Fake Bowser like the Bowsers faced in previous worlds, but actually Bowser's brother!  ...At least until Super Mario All-Stars, where he was replaced by a regular Fake Bowser, after which point who he is and his relationship to Bowser remains unclear.  Personally, I think it would be awesome to have Bowser have a brother, give him the Mario-Luigi dynamic only have Bowser be the clear superior one with Blue Bowser (or Bluser as I sometimes call him) being pushed aside and not get as much attention.  As for his sudden reappearance, perhaps Bowser banished him after his failure to stop the Mario Bros. and Blue Bowser wants vengeance, or at least the chance to prove himself?  There is a LOT of potential here, and I really hope Nintendo takes advantage of it... if they remember him, that is.

Mouser, Wart, and Tatanga have easier explanations for their inclusion on this list; each of them are memorable one-off antagonists from fondly remembered Mario games (Super Mario Bros. 2 for Mouser and Wart, Super Mario Land for Tatanga), and each of them could bring something unique with them.  Mouser obviously has the bomb theme going, and I would honestly love to see someone besides Birdo be a Mario regular who also has an ambiguous allegiance.  Wart is often said to be merely a dream creation but given that Birdo, Shy Guys, Bob-ombs, and Pokeys are real, I don't think it'd be that much of a stretch to say he is as well.  Besides, why not keep the dream theme going?  Perhaps there's an entryway to Subcon, and thus people's dreams?  In the magical world of the Mushroom Kingdom, anything is possible.  As for Tatanga, I want to keep him a little purple spaceman with pointy ears and fangs, and most importantly, I want to retain his size small, perhaps even the size of Toad or one of the baby characters, but have him compensate (or over-compensate) with incredibly big machinary, weapons, and vehicles, just like his original spaceship the Pagosu!  Again, trying to think of creative ways to use these old characters.

Say, you know how Nintendo said in Super Mario Odyssey, Mario will be visiting various lands and kingdoms, each with their own rulers, Pauline of New Donk City being one of them?  Doesn't that make you wonder where the Kings from Super Mario Bros. 3 disappeared to?  ...At the very least, I wouldn't mind seeing them again in some way, shape or form (including their transformed forms from said game :P ).

The next three characters are all Wario Land characters, and given how WarioWare seems to be more popular these days yet even characters from those games can't seem to break into Mario spin-offs, I don't see any of these guys happening soon.  At the very least, though, I want Captain Syrup, AKA Wario's other arch-enemy, to make an appearance in something else.  She made a short-lived comeback in Wario Land: Shake It!, so if Nintendo actually decides to continue to make Wario games, I unquestionably want to see more of Captain Syrup.  Mad Scienstein, though... well, here's his deal.  In Wario Land 4, and old man makes an appearance who's actually Arewo Shistain-hakase (which means Dr. Arewo Shistain), a character from the Japan-exclusive Game Boy game, Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru (or "The Frog for Whom the Bell Tolls" in English)!  Even weirder is that a Japanese ad for Wario Land 4 had an interview with Dr. Shistain, who claimed he was also in Wario Land 3, meaning he was actually Mad Scienstein all along!  Not only that, but he was in Dr. Mario 64 as well, so there's at least some precedence for him to be in a Mario spin-off!  ...Sort of, considering that game was released exclusively in North America, though it WAS re-released in Japan as part of the Nintendo Puzzle Collection bundle on the GameCube.  Eh, who knows...  As for Vampire Wario, well, if we're going to have duplicate characters, we might as well go with one of Wario's best transformations and one who's appeared in a spin-off as well (once again, Dr. Mario 64).

The last three characters are ones who I have no idea of people actually care about them or not, but I think are fun and unique enough to warrant a random appearance in a spin-off.  Il Piantissimo is definitely tops on my list; he's already got a weird yet highly unique design (a short, tan human-like character [actually the Mailman from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask] wearing a Pianta mask, as well as Pianta gloves and shoes) who dishes out colorful insults and has a rather annoying laugh!  You can't tell me there isn't potential to make him a really obnoxious playable character which players can use to taunt everyone else with!  The Chimp is basically the Il Piantissimo of Super Mario Galaxy 2, and due to the fact that he's got a similar basic design to Diddy Kong, I'd call him redundant, but dang if he doesn't look funky with those shades, that tree on his head and that blue fur!  Broozer is essentially a ghost version of Chargin' Chuck, back before Chargin' Chucks made a comeback.  If Chargin' Chucks started showing up in spin-offs, I'd be satisfied, but I feel like more can be done with Broozers as well.

...

And that's about it, holy HELL that took way longer than I thought it did.  What was originally supposed to be a fun little list turned into this mammoth monstrosity.  Still, if you read the whole thing, you have my thanks, and hey, maybe you learned something new about some Mario characters you didn't realize!  Please comment on who you would like to see in Mario spin-offs, and also share this!  Put a lot of work into this, I'd love to see as many people read it as possible... even though I'm sure there are a TON of spelling and grammatical errors  in this that I overlooked.  Regardless, thanks again!

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