Ah yes, Mario. How old is he now? Twenty years since that first perilous encounter with a giant monkey? And he looks much older. I suppose all that jumping takes it out of you. Sorry, I'm supposed to be saying how being him kicks arse.

1. The Iron Bum

And speaking of arse, who wouldn't want literal BUTTOCKS OF STEEL? Our Mario and his mates can despatch of most nasties by jumping on them. If only things were that simple, eh? You'd be able to hold up a bank by threatening to jump on the cashiers. If you want to get your hands on your uncle's inheritance you could wait for him to pass by your window and then give him both cheeks. The police could form an elite team of experts who specialise in jumping on people. Soldiers would be trained in the best way to jump on their enemies silently. If only jumping on people was always fatal, this world could be a utopia by now.

2. That Whole Mushroom Thing

I know in the wild that you have to be very careful of what mushrooms you stuff down your gullet, in case they give you the runs or cause you to puke your lungs up or something. Most people have to rely on a guide book or a gullible foreigner to work out these things, but not in the magical world of Mario! Mario knows that a mushroom can only do one of two things - make him three feet taller or give him an extra life. If only this, too, could extend to real life.

MAN: Hey, you can't ride on this roller coaster, you're too short.
ME: That's OK, I've got a mushroom.
(Gulp, boing)
MAN: Pass!

MAN: Oh no, my nubile extremely attractive post-teen daughter has been savaged by the wild cheese grater-wielding cannibals of West London, and now she's dead! Oh woe!
ME: No problem! I'll just force-feed her this funny green mushroom that's bigger than me.
(twenty minutes later)
MAN: Gasp! She's come back to life! Sylvia, thank this nice man by giving him oral sex immediately!

It's nice to speculate, isn't it.

3. Superpowers

I don't know what ungodly process Mario and Luigi have been through, but it seems to react remarkably when exposed to certain varieties of plant life. I tried setting fire to a daffodil and eating it once, but instead of being able to shoot fireballs from my fingertips I just scorched my oesophagus and gave myself asthma. My theory is that Mario has undergone experimental surgery to install nanites into his system that alter his metabolism when exposed to photosynthesizing chlorophyll. Or maybe he's just not really a person, maybe he's flesh-covered robot. Although I never once saw him greet the princess with the words "Hasta la vista, baby". Still, he can breathe underwater, which is more than that loser Sonic could manage.

4. The princess

Which is not to say that the princess and Mario were getting it on. I don't think they were. I mean, all Mario ever got from the bitch was a peck on the cheek for his trouble, and that's after battling through level after excruciating level. So I don't think they're lovers, I think if anything they're probably related, possibly cousins, or maybe even brother and sister. So what is the deal with her? Now, I'm gonna let you in on the biggest conspiracy in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Princess Toadstool is having an affair with Koopa!

How did I come to this startling conclusion? Listen, dear friends, and learn.

EXHIBIT A: Super Mario Brothers 1. Every time you come to the end of a castle you meet some toadstool loser saying the princess is in another castle. Of course she is, she moved to the next one when she heard Mario break the door down to extend the amount of time she gets with her boy toy, until she runs out of castles and is forced to express her 'gratitude' at being 'rescued'.

EXHIBIT B: Why was the princess always being 'held' so close to Mr. Koopa? Either in the next room or (in the case of Super Mario World for the SNES) in the same, rather small flying machine. And she's never even tied up or gagged, for God's sake! And remember that bit at the end of Super Mario World where the flying machine thing starts bouncing up and down? Whaddya think's going on in there, then?

EXHIBIT C: You'd have thought that after being kidnapped the first twenty or thirty times she'd have upped her personal guard a little. But no, we can't have that. Obviously being kidnapped is her cover story. I mean, they never even send a ransom demand.

Obviously she can't let her people think she's spending most of her time in the armoured pants of her supposed greatest enemy, so she still has to get someone to try and rescue her. So who does she appoint? A guy in a black trenchcoat armed to the teeth with more guns than the entire Yugoslavian Army buys in year? No, some fat runt of a plumber who can't even punch. I think after the first couple of times Mario was let in on the secret, why d'you think the later games in the series were so much longer? Imagine the first phone conversation between them:

MARIO: Hello, Mario & Luigi Plumbing Outfitters, We're Not The Cowboys, We're The Cavalry?
PRINCESS: Hi ... this is the princess.
MARIO: Hiya, princess! Toilet backed up again?
PRINCESS: Actually no, I've been kidnapped by this big lizard bloke.
MARIO: Shock horror! I'll get a SWAT team together.
PRINCESS: Er, no, that won't be necessary. I should think just you and your brother would be enough.
MARIO: But we don't have any military training or guns!
PRINCESS: Well, put on some cast-iron buttock pads or something. Oh, and there's no rush, you might as well take the scenic route through everywhere in the entire world.
MARIO: Where're you calling from?
PRINCESS: Whoops, gotta go.

Of course, now it probably goes something like this.

PRINCESS: Hi Mario, I've been 'kidnapped' again -
MARIO: Yeah, yeah. I'll get my hat.
PRINCESS: Oh, could you pick up my laundry while you're out?

So why is this a reason why being Mario would kick arse? Well, I should think the Mushroom Kingdom has tabloid newspapers just like everywhere else. Lemme here you say 'Blackmail'? Maybe Mario lets the princess know that he'll keep his mouth shut as long as she pays him a handsome sum regularly and turns a blind eye to Toad and Luigi's homosexual relationship. But that's another story.


1. Those spikey hedgehog things

Keep your buttocks to yourself on this one. Ouch.

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