Saturday, November 19, 2011

PETA vs. Mario . . . Mario Wins

Not long ago I wrote about how The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was after Battlefield 3 for allowing players to kill rats with a knife during the campaign. I felt that if PETA was going to do that, they might as well start attacking just about every game in the industry for something. This week, they attacked the beloved Super Mario, then backed off.

The new Super Mario 3D Land was released recently and one of Mario's many power-ups is the Tanooki Suit. This suit grants Mario the ability to glide through the air after he jumps and it has been a core power-up in many Super Mario games since the 1990's. It has always been clear that the suit is somewhat of a jump suit or costume, not actual fur, but PETA thought otherwise.

PETA released their own game, titled "Mario Kills Tanooki." In the game, you play as a skinned tanooki running and jumping after Mario, trying to get your skin back from him as he flies across the screen. The game portrays Mario and Marioland as being blood thirsty and gory.

PETA points out that tanooki are real life racoon dogs that are often times skinned alive for their furs. I am not endorsing that and neither is Mario. I personally did not even know that tanooki were a real animal and neither did anyone that I talked to about this. We all just assumed it was something made up for the series. I'm pretty sure than when I was playing my Super Nintendo (SNES) as a kid, I was not thinking about skinning are killing animals.

This is not the first time that PETA has released a game parodying another game. The title, Super Meat Boy, is a downloadable game that has grown quite popular. PETA created Super Tofu Boy to combat it. However, no one plays PETA's games. They get some media attention because they frustrate a lot of gamers, but they are boring, poorly constructed games. PETA is not really helping their causes attacking the industry.

Within days of releasing Mario Kills Tanooki, PETA backed off, saying that their game was meant to be "tongue in cheek." They told Mario fans to "relax" and explained that their spinoff game was meant to be a fun way to address a serious issue. There is one problem with that; there is nothing fun about playing a game as a bloody, skinned animal chasing an iconic video game hero across a nightmarish version of that same character's home turf. Nothing at all is fun or funny about that.

PETA had their sights set on Mario and missed badly. They bit off more than they could chew. It will be interesting to see how they address the video game industry going forward.

Here are links to an article about PETA's game and an article about PETA backing off of their Mario claims.

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