The Animal Crossing: New Horizons Super Mario Bros. crossover update has brought many elements of the Mushroom Kingdom to players’ islands. Some decorative items, like the “? Block,” have been added, as have a few fan-favorite characters via Super Mario-themed costume outfits. It’s great that Nintendo has introduced these Mario characters to the game, but their Animal Crossing-style looks border on scary.
In an attempt to match the art style of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Nintendo ginned up some “cute” versions of classic Mario characters. In the Animal Crossing Mario update, players are able to dress up in what can only be described as copyright-compliant costumes of Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Wario. They aren’t instantly recognizable, but they get just close enough to fall into the uncanny valley. They’re off – just enough that they become frightening doppelgangers.
The spacing on their eyes, for instance, is so pronounced that it becomes unsettling on close inspection. The usual Mario model does have a sizable gap between his eyes, but he also has a bulbous nose and bushy eyebrows to distract from it. The Animal Crossing Mario’s lack of eyebrows makes him look like a character that should appear in a “spot the difference” game. He’s wrong, somehow, and his twin brother, Luigi, doesn’t fare much better. Giving them some brows and moving their eyes a touch closer would go a long way in changing them from scary to cute.
The trailer for the update also gives a quick glance at Animal Crossing‘s Wario outfit, and that one is a complete nightmare. Without his trademark oversized teeth and substantial gut, Wario just looks weird. His mismatched hair and mustache color – while accurate to the original – is a bit too pronounced. Animal Crossing Wario is firmly in “avoid at all costs” territory. Do not invite him to New Horizons‘ upcoming Shamrock Day festival.
The characters may look odd, but the Animal Crossing Mario items look fantastic. The decorative Super Mushrooms look exactly like the versions found in Mario games. The Thwomps look similarly accurate to their original forms, and the Warp Pipes added in with the update are both fashionable and functional. Giving players the ability to teleport around their islands is a massive game-changer for Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
It’s not an inherently bad idea to try to blend art styles; there’s a chance it would be equally jarring for the regularly styled versions of Mario characters to be placed in Animal Crossing‘s world. It’s the execution that’s off, here. The downright startling Mario characters mar what is an otherwise fun, celebratory crossover between Super Mario Bros. and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.