Dear Nerd Dad,
In an age of inclusion and anti-bullying, how do I let my children enjoy the classic games of our childhood? I don’t want them to grow up calling all reptiles evil and stomping on turtles because it was ok for Mario to do it.
Muddled in the Mushroom Kingdom
Let's have a little refresher in Super Mario Bros. lore. If you recall, there are many "animals" or creatures in the Mario worlds. In the original Super Mario Bros. there are Goombas (essentially walking mushrooms), Cheep-Cheeps (flying fish), Buzzy Beetles (hard shell beetles),and Bloobers (white squids). There are also Koopas, cute turtle-like creatures that hurt Mario if he touches them in any other way besides jumping on their shell. All of these creatures are forces of the evil Bowser used to prevent Mario from rescuing his beloved Princess Peach.
What's Mario to do? I'll tell you. He's out to kick the ass of anything in his way from keeping him from his girl and sometimes that's even cute little creatures. Yes, that means curb stomping some turtles, It's not all American History X though, because let's not forget that these turtles can be useful. Mario can stomp on the shell of a Koopa and send it careening across the screen to take out other creatures standing in his way. That's simply called being resourceful.
Let's also not forget in future games there are animals that are helpful to Mario. He can obtain a frog suit to swim and a raccoon suit to fly (Raccoons don't fly though, so....). Let this serve as the primary lesson to your children: just like in real life, not all creatures in the Mario world are bad; some are even incredibly helpful. If they aren't helpful, simply curb stomp them and make them useful.
Nerd Dad Chris