What Super Mario 64’s Penguin Reveals About Its Players

The year is 1996 and Nintendo has just released its brand new console, the Nintendo 64. Alongside the release of the long-awaited console is one of the most revolutionary games ever to be released. Super Mario 64 would be the first of its kind allowing players to control both the 3D character and the game’s camera. Super Mario 64 would not only influence future generations of gaming but would present players with a choice that tells a lot about their gaming tendencies.

Super Mario 64 was the first installment of the 3D Super Mario games and would go on to be one of the greatest games of all time. Not only because of its revolutionary camera controls, but also because of its memorable worlds and catchy soundtrack. One of the most iconic levels in Super Mario 64 is Cool, Cool Mountain, in which players have to return a lost baby penguin to its concerned mother. Players not only have to safely deliver the baby penguin to the bottom of the mountain, but they also have to find the right one.

One of the first video game memes was born once players discovered they had the choice to deliver the penguin or throw it off the cliff. While choosing to send the baby penguin plummeting to its death won’t result in a power star, it does satiate some primal desire that lays dormant in some players. This one act of sudden aggression towards a helpless baby penguin may say a lot about Super Mario 64’s players.

A lot of players probably chose to save the baby penguin in Super Mario 64, grab the star, and move on to the next level. Their one goal is to be the hero of the story, and as such, they follow orders and complete tasks as intended. This heroic archetype is what many video game protagonists fall into, but that doesn’t mean players can’t find ways to act on their devilish impulses.

Players who choose to throw Super Mario 64’s baby penguin off the cliff fall under the outlaw or jester archetypes. They break the rules or choose the unintended path for their own enjoyment. Even if there is nothing worthwhile to gain from their actions, Mario’s penguin throwers will still choose to throw the penguin off the cliff for the sake of pleasure.

If players do fall under the jester/outlaw archetype, their shenanigans will likely spill over into other parts of Peach’s Castle and potentially other video games. These players probably got a laugh out of stomping on the Toads’ heads in not only Super Mario 64, but every 3D Super Mario game they appear in. The cats in Bowser’s Fury were likely thrown off cliffs as well, the penguins in Astro’s Playroom were bumped into the icy abyss, and every wild animal in Halo Reach was at least shot at a few times. Video games may not incite real-world violence, but players’ actions can say a lot about how they play other video games. Or maybe the baby penguin in Super Mario 64 was a one-time fling and those players have since matured past their need to make artificial animals suffer.

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