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Editorial

Conspiracy Theory: The Mario Series' "Pixel" Characters

Have you ever had the feeling that things were going to change in your favorite game series? Sometimes it could be a small change like when the Pokemon franchise added new types to future titles, or it could be be a big change like when The Legend of Zelda games became more cinematic. Well I have that feeling right now that Nintendo is planning something that could completely retcon the stories from the older Mario titles and I don't think it's going to be for the better...

Over a decade ago when Super Smash Bros Melee was released and subsequently reintroduced Mr. Game & Watch to the world, Nintendo created a stage for him based on the handheld devices of his namesake. This stage was Flat Zone, an entirely 2D arena that even made all the fighters paper thin when they would turn around. This may seem like there was nothing special to theorize about it, but hear me out, I have more to tell.

Now when the Wii came out, I started to notice a trend in some of the games that Nintendo developed. More and more titles that Nintendo released for the console had 8-bit sprites of Mario and company hidden in the environment. An example would be in Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus where both had Mario sprites hidden on the running trails. Alone, this would just seem like a simple Easter egg, but there is more to be found.

Further along the line when Super Paper Mario was released, the concept of alternate dimensions was introduced and also the gimmick where you could alter Mario's perspective of the world from 2D to 3D. This brings the focus back to Smash Bros's Flat Zone Stage where it is the home of the always 2D Mr. Game & Watch. Further more, there is a power-up in Super Paper Mario that further make me suspicious that there may be something to this theory of mine. A very particular defensive power-up called the Pal Pill summons eight small 8-bit versions of the character that picked up the item. THIS is where I started to think something was up. In my head, these petite pixellated partners shouldn't exist at the same time as normal Mario as they are visualized as Mario and co. back during the NES era. But then I remembered, Super Paper Mario takes place in a multiverse of locations outside of the Mushroom Kingdom's own reality. These pixel people could theoretically be citizens of Flat Zone as they are also 2D in design.

Now this is where things get interesting. Shortly after the release of the Wii U, Nintendo did their little Year of Luigi event that included Dr. Luigi, New Super Luigi U, Super Mario 3D World and Super Luigi Bros in NES Remix 2. During this time, specifically in Super Mario 3D World, MANY pixel versions of Luigi could be found hidden in the stages, usually either appearing out of nowhere for a split second or even appearing walking in the background of a large open area. Now normally, I would just chalk it up as another Easter Egg, but then Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker came onto the scene and introduced the amiibo activated game mode Hide & Seek with Pixel Toad. THIS is a vital piece of information that helps further solidify my theory. This little game mode ACKNOWLEDGES the existence of these Pixel characters and even names them as such.

With the fact that now even ONE pixel character has been officially named within the games, I propose that one of two scenarios will happen in the future. Either A: Nintendo will retcon the old arcade and NES titles to being set in the Flat Zone and ignoring Mario's past life living in Brooklyn, New York with Pauline and his pet ape Donkey Kong; or B: Nintendo is planning a new game in which the denizens of Flat Zone invade and have taken on the forms of the first people they see being Mario, Luigi and the people of the Mushroom Kingdom. Personally, I think the former theory holds more merit, but until then, I'll be seeing you.

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