This past weekend, Nintendo released Super Mario 3D Land, which features the return of the Tanooki Suit, a brown racoon-esque costume that first appeared way back in 1988 when Super Mario 3 hit stores. To some, this furry, tan outfit represents cute nostalgia, but for many of us, we can’t help but see it for what it is: a flippant disregard for the many tanukis who’ve given their pelts and their lives for man’s quest to manufacture flight-enabling fur coats. Thankfully, the good people of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have spoken up.
Peta released this statement: “Tanooki may be just a ‘suit’ in Mario games, but by wearing the skin of an animal, Mario is sending the message that it’s OK to wear fur.”
Truer words have never been spoken, and I’m glad that someone is finally taking Mario to task. For years I’ve been decrying the plumber’s use of fireballs as a reckless endorsement of pyromania, and let’s not begin to talk about his fixation with magic mushrooms. It’s about time that this mascot’s obscene behavior is called into question.
Of course, the Tanooki Suit debacle isn’t the first time Nintendo has so fecklessly thrown animal rights out the window. After the jump, please prepare yourself for thirteen of the more horrifying and nauseating examples of animal cruelty as depicted in Nintendo’s allegedly “family-friendly” games.
Yoshi’s indentured servitude, Super Mario Bros. series
I believe my friend jash said it best with this recent post on his Facebook wall: “Oh help me rhonda. seriously bitching about mario, peta? yet no complaints about the conscription of a dinosaur to ride around on who is forced to eat koopa troopas. WHO WILL SAVE YOSHI??”
Violence against ducks and dogs, Duck Hunt
As singularly horrifying as this game’s central premise is — the callous murder of innocent ducks for no reason other than macabre joy — there’s a deeper, darker message it sends. Duck Hunt has taught a generation that it’s okay to aim guns at dogs, particularly if they are laughing derisively at you. For millions of children, it’s become commonplace to actually shoot Nintendo’s light gun at the giggling pup, an act so galling and irresponsible that we can’t believe Nintendo hasn’t just changed the name of the game to Michael Vick’s Fun Time Emporium. Our recommendation: remove the laughing dog and replace it with a poetic dandelion. Oh, and instead of ducks, we encourage Nintendo to feature flying pumpkins, which are both whimsical and colorful.
Excessive force used against King Kong, Rampage
This arcade classic has players controlling King Kong as he climbs skyscrapers and destroys cities. All the while, our monkey friend is violently assaulted by all manners of manmade weapons: tanks, gun-toting helicopters, SCUD missiles. Do we really want to send the message that it’s okay to use firearms on an innocent animal? Why is there no effort to communicate with the beast? Perhaps present a vegan peace offering in the form of a macrobiotic tempeh bowl? Even if it’s destroying an entire city, an ape is still a living being, and really, it’s our fault for invading its habitat with our buildings and trams and gas-guzzling machines. No wonder it’s confused and frightened. This is not the world it knows, and Nintendo should be ashamed for making the animal the enemy here (even if, technically, it IS the protagonist).
Fish murder, Zelda series
Nintendo has made Link the epitome of derring-do, but I’m not sure I understand what’s so heroic about depleting Hyrule’s sea-life populations by repeatedly raiding estuaries and lakes in countless fishing missions. The message here is simple and cruel: a fish’s life is tantamount to a rusty can, which is just as easily yanked from the depths of any body of water. Rather than teach players about the perils of overfishing and the merits of sustainable seafood, Zelda merely confirms the antiquated notion that fish-murder is socially acceptable. Why not have Link sail the seas in search of whales to slaughter for blubber? Or maybe let him order a steaming bowl of shark fin soup at the local village. I mean, when does it end?
The abuse of Sonic, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games
Could there be anything more reprehensible than forcing animals to compete for human entertainment? Most certainly not. Here you have a naturally talented hedgehog whose unparalleled speediness suggests that he belongs on a savannah or prairie where he can zip along at will, but no, instead he’s been corralled into a stadium and forced to compete in grueling games while thousands of humans watch from their seats. This game sends a demented message: animals are nothing more than peons in our bloodsports. The line between Sonic racing in a 100m dash and two roosters battling to the death in a cockfight is blurry AT BEST.
Subjecting animals to scientific testing, Starfox
It’s hard to imagine the depravity Nintendo is capable of, but take one look at Starfox, and it becomes very clear. Here is a game that stars a fox — a fox — as some sort of intergalactic pilot fighting for the universe. To be blunt: there is no place for animals in the space program. A fox belongs in the forest, not in space, and I don’t care how adept he is at maneuvering an Arwing, Fox McCloud should never have been put in a situation where he was trained in the art of air combat. Same goes for his comrades, Falco Lombardi, Slippy Toad, and Peppy Hare. I mean, why the hell are we sending our falcons, toads, and rabbits into space? This is all wrong and sends a horrific message. We will not tolerate animal testing.
Animal-on-animal, human-on-animal violence, Super Smash Bros.
Here’s a fun idea: let’s take animals and pit them against each other in a fight to the death. That’s exactly what Nintendo does in this gruesome fighting game. Want a more twisted option? Why not have Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. square off in a gladiator-style death match? Not only is it animal vs. animal, but it’s father vs. son. Well done, Nintendo. Some might call it Shakespearean. I call it vile. Even worse, the humans get to mix it up with the creatures of the forest too. Swap out Donkey Kong with Mario, and now we’ve got an Italian plumber assaulting poor DK Jr.. I don’t see how Nintendo can stand behind a game whose central, loathsome message is that human-on-baby-animal violence is somehow acceptable and fun. No, it is not. I will not stand for any monkey being punched and kicked by a man, let alone a monkey child.
Animal torture, Animal Crossing series
I don’t really know what this game is about, but I’m already offended by the title.
Acceptance of meat-eating, Burgertime
It’s bad enough that Burgertime treats burgers as an acceptable food instead of the patties of death that they are, but what makes this horrific game even worse is that players are encouraged to kill others in the process of making said burgers. Yes, as chef Peter Pepper one must crush the likes of Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle, and Mr. Egg under the weight of a sesame bun or even the meat patty itself. Finally: an answer to the age-old question of “How can we increase the amount of murder in our MURDER MEAT?” Peter Pepper spends so much time running from Mr. Egg et al. that he never stops to think that maybe, just maybe they’re trying to warn him against the perils of eating beef. But I suppose it’s all about shooting the messenger, or crushing the messenger under a burger stack, as it were. Our children should not be raised thinking that burger making — especially when it involves violence — is “fun” or a “game.”
Dog abuse, Nintendogs
To the point: Nintendogs teaches our children that dogs are our servants, our inferiors, our “pets.” Awful.
Monkey torture, Monkey Ball
I couldn’t think of anything more repugnant than trapping a monkey inside a ball and then rolling said ball off a platform. Where is the outrage? Where is the uproar? This careless game sends a message that monkeys are not only meant for captivity, but even worse, they’re meant to be knocked off platforms in the middle of outer space (or the ocean or a vaguely jungle setting). How about a game called Monkey Freedom Tree, wherein monkeys enjoy an afternoon in their natural habitat for once?
Placing cows in harm’s way, MarioKart series
A place called Moo Moo Meadows suggests a bucolic setting where one can relax with a picnic blanket and enjoy a beet and seitan fajita with a tall glass of almond milk. Well, think again. Moo Moo Meadows has been overrun by go-karts, who barely seem to care about the fragile ecosystem they’ve invaded. It’s bad enough that these racers have co-opted a greenspace for their games, but they didn’t even bother to find an alternative home for the cows of Moo Moo Meadows. As a result, many of our bovine friends are struck by speeding go-karts, and while the game plays this for laughs, I assure you there is nothing funny about an animal being felled by a reckless motorist. Shameful.
Turtle genocide, Super Mario Bros. series
If i told you that there was a video game out there that encouraged players to murder and destroy every puppy in sight, would you play it? Of course not. Now just replace puppies with turtles, and suddenly Super Mario Bros. isn’t the charming game that millions of people have mistaken it for all these years. At a time when sea tortoise populations are hitting record lows, is it really the most responsible message to send that a turtle can and SHOULD be easily disposed of? This isn’t euthanasia here either, people. Mario maliciously stomps on turtles and kicks them away. I can’t for the life of me conceive of a more disgusting, degenerate, and revolting way to treat an animal. Repulsive.
I hope this sheds light on the history of animal cruelty and Nintendo. Please forward this along on Facebook and Twitter to help get the word out.