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We’re getting reeeaaal close to the end here folks; to the core of what makes Mario tick, twitch, and butcher. There’s a loose end, however, that still needs to be explained before we can launch into the final event: Kamek. He might have had his grand plan destroyed, and while that was likely disheartening, it certainly wasn’t going to stop him from finding a new way of achieving total domination. Though, in pursuit of this goal, he quickly learned of something far worse than Mario, and suddenly plans for domination became plans for survival. The scheming old wizard knew that the Koopa Kingdom wasn’t going to amount to anything, pitting the Koopa Army against Mario would be like sending a child out to fight an enraged gorilla: brutally short; though good for a laugh. perhaps.

The Koopa Army seemed pretty useless to him now, but this doesn’t mean that he couldn’t put them to work, anyway. Kamek had other Cheep Cheeps to fry and the Koopa Army was gonna help him do exactly that, just not in the way you might think. Unless you’re think they’re being led to slaughter, purposefully, systematically, and by the hand of a cruel overlord; in which case, boy, do I have good news for you!

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Kamek’s plans had (kind of) worked and he inherited the Koopa Kingdom, though it wasn’t even close to having the same value as it did before the events of SMB. It wasn’t a super power anymore, Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom had overtaken them in that regard, and so he was essentially in charge of a directionless and obsolete army. What good are countless numbers when your enemy is defended by a super-being? The short answer is “None at all”, the long answer is “None at all, and Kamek just hates them for it.” His goal wasn’t so much handed to him as it was left lying on the ground by someone who didn’t think it as important as he did; he picked it up and brushed off the dust because, as humiliating as it was, it was the only thing left for him..

Such a blow to Kamek’s ego was pretty hard to swallow and revenge would be featuring pretty heavily in his thoughts, except the only means with which to do so were the left overs from his enemy’s last romp through his ranks. It’s difficult to respect a force of hundreds that lost to a single man, and you can’t like someone you don’t respect; so when it comes to divvying up the resources, it’s no surprise that Kamek didn’t really spare much for the soldiers that he sends out into the field. The Hammer Bros have those neat shell helmets as well as their titular weapons, right? Except the armor doesn’t protect them anymore than if they were bare naked, which most of their comrades are, and while the hammers are arguably useful they’re also incredibly scarce.
 
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Are they made of something prohibitively expensive? Miracles, maybe? Why doesn’t every Koopa Troopa have one of these things?

Goombas have two feet, no arms, and I’m not entirely convinced that they aren’t just animated poops; they sure have some nasty fangs though, enough to kill (as much as one can kill) Mario at least. So why aren’t they given those weird grid-iron-in-a-world-where-grid-iron-doesn’t-exist helmets that the Chargin’ Chucks wear? Since Goombas are basically in every Mario game already, in some form or another, wouldn’t it make sense to make them even a little dangerous? During the next Mario Party, just have a squad of Helmet Goombas overpower and destroy Mario, is it really that hard? Obviously it is for the Koopa Army, to the point of impossiblity, since Mario isn’t dead yet. Why would Kamek wastes any resources at all in supporting such a hopeless lot?

Because there’s plenty of return value for spending the time, coins, and effort on keeping them terrible: Keeping the Koopa Army ill-equipped and deliberately trained wrong is the key to Kamek’s plan.

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How else do you explain the fact that their tactics have remained essentially the same since 1985? Goombas just wander around aimlessly until they spot you (or smell man flesh?). They don’t even flinch when you launch ten feet into the air above them. This is barely an improvement from the old days, when they would charge mindlessly towards you, past you, and then off into the sunset. Koopa Troopas and Paratroopas all had set formations which were strictly adhered to, whether that meant flying right into Mario’s murderous feet, or walking right off the side of a cliff. Nowadays they don’t even have that kind of discipline, flying in a fashion only drunks would call a “pattern”. Who’s supposed to be leading these soldiers? Where are the commanding officers in all this?

Oh yeah, that’s right, they’re at the top of trap filled, impractical, probably expensive “castles”, far away from being of any use to their troops. (“Probably expensive”, magic materials have to come from somewhere and I bet he spends just a tonne on broom maintenance alone.) These single high ranking soldiers seem like the only ones with a modicum of authority, aside from Bowser himself, yet they’re totally absent from the battlefield; it’s not like the Koopa Army soldiers would be good at “self management”, why would you leave them out there without direction or guidance? I mean come on, they’re not exactly the cream of the Mushroom Planet crop; though I’m sure they must have been at some point, because they would have had to fight and die to claim their lands and their regency. Entire kingdoms can’t just spontaneously “appear”, right? Wouldn’t that be weird?
 
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I mean, it’s not like they can just be.. manufactured… right?

No, they don’t, or at the very least the Koopa Kingdom didn’t; Once upon a time they were strong enough, and brilliant enough, and used their might to stake out a claim on a chunk of land. Kamek has since allowed the Koopa Kingdom, and its army, to slump into a parody of itself; it’s also damned important to Kamek that it stays that way, keeping his forces as dumb and obedient as possible, because their outdated and thoughtless tactics still serve a purpose. Remember that crack I made in the Bowser article, about Mario giving chase to the Lizard-Man-Child? That wasn’t just an off-hand remark: Kamek has been using “Bowser’s” attacks against Mario to create a mental association for the moustachioed one. As seen in Super Mario 3D World, Kamek can have Mario chasing after Bowser with only a glimpse of the poor sap.

Bowser alone wouldn’t be enough to keep him occupied, however, since your average Bowser fight lasts ten minutes tops. Kamek needs to keep Mario bogged down with squad after squad of annoying sort-of-soldiers, enough to make Mario think he’s trying. Which, he is.. Just not in the way you’re thinking. He also needs to get his soldiers to go along with it, which is why he maintains the community of the Koopa Kingdom by leaving Bowser, their charismatic leader, to run the day to day stuff as though he were really in charge. Ridiculous machines (where does he get all those, I wonder?), absurd plots, and otherwise just following through with whatever stupid thought pops into his head, Bowser just follows his programming and spam-attacks Mario.

Running an operation like this can’t be cheap though, and it has to be a drain on his resources, losing thousands upon thousands of soldiers… how can he afford all this? Moreover, what is it even for? What could he possibly be doing that is worth creating, and diligently maintaining, a literal dummy army to hide?

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Why, gathering the most powerful and evil forces in the universe of course! As for how he can afford it? Well, let’s just say that he found another use for Goombas besides front-line Mario fodder, if you get my meaning. If you don’t, then clearly you haven’t been paying attention, just, at all during these articles (diatribes?). Because if you’re a living being in the Mario universe and your species numbers above the hundreds, you cease to be a living being and instead become a resource (commodity, if you’re useful). Goombas in the Koopa Kingdom are treated much the same as Yoshi’s are in the Mushroom Kingdom, except Kamek calls it patriotism instead of slavery and the consequences are much worse. Like Turbo-Communism, with absolutely no reservations.

If you were to look strictly at battlefield statistics, Goombas and Koopas (Troopas, or otherwise) are both in relative equal supply on the front-line; but Koopas are the far more useful of the two and so they generally remain soldiers only. Goombas, on the other hand, pop up much more frequently in lore as “commoner” type roles, essentially filling out the average day-to-day jobs; not only in the Koopa Kingdom, but just.. Everywhere. There’s a peaceful village that lives within the borders of the Mushroom Kingdom, totally independent factions all over the Mushroom Planet, and they probably appear in more Mario games than any other enemy in the franchise (seriously, this is a long list)… So, how does this relate to– look, you know where this is heading.
 
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YOU ALL KNEW WHERE THIS WAS HEADING.

Remember, this is still the same planet that DK, or more importantly the human/animal/”people”-trafficking pirates, inhabit; new stock is consistently in high demand, and they always have stock to offer. Live-stock. Because they’re selling people.. So anyway, when Kamek isn’t selling Goombas off to pay for his cauldrons and scrolls and the like, he’s bartering them for better soldiers (or distractions?) for his dummy Koopa Army. It’s not like he has some Goomba and Koopa scientists working in the Koopa Army R&D division, they’re all too busy being slaughtered for Kamek’s greater good; every time a new enemy type appears in a Mario game it has to have come from somewhere, it would make sense that they were “imported” from outside the Koopa Kingdom. (Maybe even from outside of the Mushroom Planet – how much do we really know about birdo?)

Goombas going out, imported soldiers coming in, money changing hands and, given the number of Goombas around the world, most of it likely ending up in Kameks hands. His physical magic components could only possibly cost so much, but it’s not like Kamek is walking around all bling-bling either, so where is it all going? That’s right: hardened, angry, ruthless mercenaries! And not just the kind he’s importing to fill out the Mario Decoy ranks; I’m talking about the guys that show up to take on Mario (seemingly) independent of Bowser. That would be your Smithy Gangs, your Count Blecks, and even some of the end of world bosses; Kamek has found the best hired guns he can, throwing them at Mario to see which one sticks (him in the face). Seems like overkill, right?

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We’re not done yet, in fact the best has yet to come! Sending that much fire power to take out a single super-being, even one as powerful as Mario, would have to amount to some serious hatred on Kamek’s part… which, I guess he has, since Mario has been smacking Kamek around since birth. There’s more though, so much more, because the guys he’s hiring aren’t screwing around; Sure, if they succeed, they’ll kill Mario, but they’ll also take out half the universe with them. That is a huge risk to take just so you can kill a dude and take his kingdom, because what’s the point in conquering a smouldering heap (if, indeed, there’s even a heap to smoulder)? No, that’s the kind of length you go to when who you’re really after is the guy hiding far behind enemy lines.

You didn’t actually think that Mario was the real threat, did you? Mario’s an absolute nut-bag to be sure, as blood-thirsty as he is powerful, but there are larger threats still; and Kamek knows this because he’s been waging a secret, bloody war with it since the fall of the Koopa Kingdom. As it was with the Koopa Kingdom, just because Mario’s at the front of the Mushroom Kingdom, making the most noise and murdering the most people (y’know, leader-y type things), doesn’t necessarily mean he’s in charge. The driving force behind Mario is far more powerful; in truth, it’s responsible for this entire freak show I’ve shown to you all, including Mario’s very creation. (In-game creation, not creation-creation, I’m not going meta… yet).
 
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Yet.

Kamek has figured this out (albeit too late), and it makes sense. No, really: A single super-being leading a Kingdom of clones*, none of whom are particularly dangerous or valuable, couldn’t accomplish what he has, entirely on his own merit. Mario’s had some (literal) outside help, someone who has been helping him every step of the way, and Kamek has been scraping up every single powerful being, crazy or not, to destroy them. You see, the driving force behind Mario, his “benefactor” of sorts, isn’t native to the Mushroom Planet, or even to that dimension (though they’re possibly from that same universe, my Astrophysics is almost non-existent). Finding their way into the Mario universe most likely by chance, when they arrived there was no such thing as “Mario”.

Their arrival pre-dates the Mario games by decades, in fact, and they’ve been slowly influencing the events of the entire universe ever since. Kamek’s attacks are futile at this point: Mario might have once been vulnerable, but that is now no longer the case and the fat, moustachioed one is bent of Chaos. Mario’s plans, not just for the universe but for existence itself, are as epic in scale as they are cruel in machination, and he is willing to exploit the very fabric of reality to see them through to fruition. These plans are entirely Mario’s, however, as his benefactor has no set or intricate plans of his own; he sees the carnage as an unfortunate (though necessary, regardless) side-effect of the over-all experiment. “What experiment,” I hear you ask, dear readers? Well, that would be… Everything.

Just wait TDSO fans, and I will tell you all about the monster who uses the Mushroom Planet like a Petri dish, in…

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*Yes, they’re clones, there are clones everywhere; Toads are very much clones, just like Bowser Jr., but not like Peach. You have to stick with me here, this is going to be so amazing.

Patrick Waring

Patrick Waring

Executive Editor at GameCloud
From Perth, Patrick has played video games from a young age and now has "opinions." When not fretting over whether using words like "fretting" is effeminate, he likes to write jokes about video games. Sometimes he goes outside, and other times he just sits at his PC, thinking way too hard about Nintendo games.

DISCLAIMER: This article is a work of satire, parody and fiction. At no point was it my intention to assert that the things written in this article are true (unless, of course, it turns out that they are true. In which case, suck it, I was totally right). I don’t own the characters, or the concepts, and I’m sure I’m probably not the first to come to many of these conclusions. However, in saying that, stealing my words without asking would be kind of a dick thing to do. To the original owners of the discussed characters: please don’t sue me, I am not a rich man.

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