Allow some sympathy for Wario, the often misunderstood antihero from the Super Mario Bros. games. He had a rough childhood that may have contributed to his compensatory obsessions with gold, garlic, and his arch rival Mario. In fact, it’s the childhood bully Mario who should take some responsibility for Wario’s greedy, gluttonous, and generally mean behavior later in life, according to documents recently seen by Polygon.
Those documents are, of course, the short story comic “Mario vs. Wario”, which originally ran on Volume 44 of Nintendo Power Magazine and then it was picked up in the Super Mario Adventures graphic novel. In that 1993 storyline, manga writer Kentaro Takekuma and illustrator Charlie Nozawa reveal crucial moments from Wario’s childhood that seem to have marked the successful microgame entrepreneur, leading to trauma in later life, so Surprisingly, Mario seems unrepentant.
In the first episode of “Mario vs. Wario”, Wario tries to reconnect with his childhood friend Mario, inviting him to a party at Wario’s house, albeit with ulterior motives. Mario tells how, in his youth, Mario and Wario played together, and awaits their reunion. Wario, on the other hand, remembers the events of those game dates differently.
In one scene, while Mario is collecting radishes, Wario is brutally attacked by Piranha Plants, and his cries for help fall on deaf ears. In another memory, Wario is “nearly crushed” by a Thwomp during what Mario calls “the experiment”. The most damaging memory, it seems, is a Cowboys game, in which Wario was forced to be “the thief,” also known as the criminal, 1,255 times in 1,256 games played. It is heartbreaking to read.
Mario shamefully tries to sweep these events and Wario’s trauma under the rug. When Mario is faced with his past harassment and his forgetfulness of the pain he inflicted on Wario, the selfish plumber is unwilling to accept responsibility. “Me? A bully?” Mario says incredulous. “What do you mean? It’s been 20 years! Let the past be past. […] Don’t be such a coward. “Wow.
Mario’s unwillingness to give in to his role of harming Wario is further illustrated in the comic’s final panel, in which the plumber re-subjects our garlic-enjoying friend to another Cowboys game, and once the more it forces him to play the role of Rustler.
There is an earlier moment in “Mario vs. Wario” that is equally disturbing. While Mario travels to Wario’s house, he meets a Pako, the octopus-shaped boss of Super Mario Land 2: 6 gold coins. Trying to stop Mario from stomping through his swamp, Pako expresses that he feels bad; after all, it is a saltwater creature that lives in a freshwater swamp. Mario tricks Pako into thinking that he will take care of his illness, only to throw sugar into the swamp, apparently poisoning Pako. It’s hard to digest, whether you interpret it as a cunning ruse or destructive ignorance.
It’s no wonder Mario’s apologists come to the plumber’s defense, but his youthful and traumatizing demeanor is on display. again in the second comic “Mario vs. Wario” by Volume 56 of Nintendo Power Magazine.
In that story, Princess Peach is celebrating her birthday and Wario thoughtfully remembers a Samus Aran doll that the princess had admired in a shop window. He goes to buy it for her, only to find that a mysterious man with a mustache, who Wario thinks is Mario, has won it. Furious, Wario buys a prank gift, a spring-loaded Wiggler toy, and gift wraps it to match Mario’s gift. Their plan is to exchange gifts to embarrass Mario.
It turns out that Mario is in the same situation. He thinks Wario was the one who bought the Samus doll, and tries to sabotage Wario in an identical way, suggesting that they are equally evil. At the party, Peach suffers from Mario and Wario’s attempts to tease each other, ruining her special day. Readers eventually discover that Luigi, a pure innocent, is the one who gifted Peach the Samus doll. Luigi saves the day and ensures the kiss. Luigi is good.
Suffice it to say, ladies and gentlemen of readers, I think Wario has been unfairly labeled a villain – they called him “Bad Mario” folks! – for almost 30 years, despite the fact that his behavior is no worse than Mario’s, and that Mario should take some responsibility for Wario’s current circumstances. I believe that the evidence presented in these historical records, which I hold to be canon, should absolve Wario of all sins past and present.