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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Weird Rulership Situations In Gaming Part 3: Bowser

Imagine, if you will, a kingdom of evil. It's a kingdom with traitorous soldiers, magic-casting fiends, mechanical contraptions, ghosts and reanimated skeletons. Over all of it rules a fearsome kin of the dragon, a fire-breathing lord of darkness.

Now think about that same lord of darkness getting really lonely all the time.

That's pretty much the story of Bowser, King of the Koopas. As anyone who knows a little about gaming can tell you, Bowser is Mario's main archenemy, but he's also surprisingly insecure and ineffectual. Here's his plan for just about every Mario game:
  1. Kidnap Princess.
  2. Wait.
  3. Get beaten.
There's no real point in doing this. What does he want? He's never asked for ransom. He's never made any other moves on the Mushroom Kingdom, so he obviously doesn't want to incite a war. This can only mean one thing: He's lonely.

Think about it: He kidnaps a woman. He never actually does anything with her. It only serves to make Mario mad, so he comes and gets her. He pretends to be all angry about it, but we know the real reason.

We all know it's lonely at the top. You can have your huge, imposing castle and legions of groveling minions, but what good is it if you don't have companionship? That sadness can hurt deeper than any fireball or fall into a pit of lava. It might be all worth it for just the chance at real, lasting contact.

However, Bowser's own desire for companionship is always his undoing. He ends up creating antagonistic relationships instead of building bridges to happiness and fulfillment. When he does finally reach out and try to enjoy time with others with activities such as go-karting or baseball, he inevitably ruins it by throwing a blue shell or whipping a Chain Chomp at someone. This is obviously very destructive behavior.

Compound that with his relationship with his son, Bowser Jr., and we have even more questions. Where's the mother? Did he chase her away as well? And why is he using his son for evil? Think of the irreparable damage to a young boy's psyche as he sees his father antagonize others and get beaten up repeatedly.

Really, Bowser's story is a remarkably sad one, full of sadness, regret, and melancholy. We can only hope that this poor troubled soul finds the happiness he so richly craves.