TDSO_Kamek

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Gather round, fans of TDSO, because I am about to embark on the journey that this series was created for; a journey into the dark heart of the Mario series, peeling away the horrifying layers of the Mushroom Kingdom to reveal the ripe, deliciously disturbing truth beneath. Mario himself is most definitely at the core of this whole plot, but there is plenty of context to his sins that has to be heard before his mad, violent plans can be properly understood. Let’s start from the beginning, when Mario was still an infant and the twisted machinations that would decide his ultimate fate had only just been set in motion. Even sociopathic mass murderers have an origin story, and Mario had no choice about his lot in life, because back then…
 
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Kamek is probably the most under-estimated character in the entire Nintendo universe; also the most under-estimating, since he always seems to screw the job by using under-powered cronies. Despite his track record for success (or lack there-of) the guy is still a pretty powerful wizard (as exhibited in just about every game that he appears in); he certainly possesses all the perks of being a powerful wizard, and that includes great longevity: He clearly doesn’t age, nor does his appearance change at all between Yoshi’s Island, when Mario is a baby, and the rest of the games that he appears in, when Mario is (usually) a fully grown adult.

In pursuit of his mission objectives, Kamek will expend some heavy magic to get what he wants; while hunting down an infant child and a primitive tribe of dinosaurs, just intelligent enough to say the name of their own species, the guy turns standard cannon-fodder monsters into ten story tall behemoths and says “have at it!”. In the Yoshi’s Island games he also commands that time period’s generation of the Koopa Army, or at least enough of it to fill eight worlds worth of levels (per game) with soldiers; so far from just being magically powerful, he’s also powerful politically. So what is the Mario-verse equivalent of a five-star general, who can also fly and shoot magic from his hands, doing as the nanny of a demented, violent, and demanding child?
 
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Seriously Boswer, even as a baby you were just the worst.

Well for starters, raising and guiding the spawn and heir to the monarchy isn’t a bad place to be in to insure your own future and survival. The Koopa Kingdom didn’t start with Bowser, because, while he totally could’ve just created them out of thin air, Kamek didn’t create all of the places that Bowser lives in as a child. It’s also unlikely that Kamek created the Kingdom and instated Bowser as the puppet ruler, because who instates a toddler as a puppet ruler? Bowser isn’t exactly intelligent as an adult, let alone as a child, a quality that isn’t hard to miss: it’s hard to disguise intelligent orders as coming from a “leader” who still has temper tantrums over not getting what he wants. (Admittedly, this isn’t a characteristic that improves with age.)

No, there was a whole lineage that came before before Bowser who were just “out of camera”, a family that we don’t see because they aren’t particularly relevant to the story being told. They’re absolutely relevant to Kamek, however, who wants in on that sweet, sweet ruling class goodness. And why not? This is a family so loaded that it hires wizards as baby-sitters. But wizards live for several lifetimes, so Kamek figures the easiest way to conquer the kingdom is to outlive the ruling family and inherit it; so he becomes friendly with them, achieves a high ranking position in their personal army, even settles in as Bowser’s primary care-giver and eventual right hand man. The kingdom will just eventually fall into his lap in a few short decades, maybe a century or so, all he has to do is wait.
 
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F***ing with the natives was a favorite past time of Kamek’s, that got him through Bowser’s childhood, as he whiled away the years.

Even wizards get bored though, and impatience reared it’s ugly head; so when Kamek foresaw a major stick in the spokes for his domination plans, he starts a little side project. “Side project” feels inadequate as a descriptor for what comes next, because if the Mario world had a global watch list for particularly deranged individuals then Kamek would absolutely be the reason that list was created in the first place.
 
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See, Kamek didn’t foresee Mario causing trouble for Bowser in his future, he saw him causing trouble for the “Koopas” in general. The Koopas are such a well established and rich monarchical family that they have their own personal army, “The Koopa Army”, the official guard of the Kingdom (the inhabitants of which apparently number in the hundreds of thousands, if Mario’s kill count is accurate). They’re the reason Kamek couldn’t have just blasted his way straight to the throne, since being totally outnumbered meant that his power would’ve amounted to a means of burying his corpse. Goombas might be deadly to the touch, but the toppling corpse piles that Kamek would leave behind might be enough to kill him on their own.
 
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I suppose you don’t need arms when your very touch is lethal. If only they looked a little less phallic.

So armed with the knowledge that there was someone out there who would one day rain havoc on the Koopa Kingdom, Kamek found him and ensured he was locked in a grudge-match with the Koopa’s heir from birth. You didn’t actually think that he wanted Mario out of the picture, did you? If he was at all serious about getting rid of Mario, he would’ve just fried the twins along with the Stork mid-flight because he’s a god-damned wizard. I can’t imagine that the guy who greenlit the kidnapping of dozens of children, just to get to Mario, would have any qualms with murdering a single child, especially Mario. Or Luigi, for that matter, since he doesn’t off him either. Or the Stork. Either Kamek has other plans, or he just doesn’t get the core concept of killing something.

Attempting to execute the same plan and then failing the exact same way each time couldn’t be less subtle than a Bullet Bill to the face; there are only so many times you can say “whoops!” after causing the same catastrophic cock-up multiple times before people start to ask questions. It definitely was a mistake too, at least the first time; no matter how masterful his calculations or manipulations, orchestrating the events of the first game would be impossible on a dry run. Kamek couldn’t have known that the Yoshi’s would risk life and limb to rescue this unknown child, and I doubt “drop the fragile infant human from thirty thousand feet” was on the drawing board.
 
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“These things bounce, right?”

The Yoshi’s violent rampage gave Kamek inspiration for the best way to handle Mario: repeated and frequent exposure to hyper-violence and emotional trauma. There were any number of things he could have done with Mario to suit his needs, but none of them were likely to have been as effective as tearing him away from his brother and then forcing him through a gauntlet of violent monsters. So he did it again, and a third time, and these are just the occasions that we know about; who knows when Kamek’s experiments in violent mental conditioning finally ended? And what happens when this kind of monster is unleashed?
 
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When mentally programming yourself a psychotic killer it might be an idea to install some kind form of control or kill switch, which is something that Kamek has probably been repeating to himself ever since the events of the first Super Mario Bros. game. Remember that family of Bowser’s that aren’t around and are just implied? Well they were in one game, one game only, and anyone who has played this game will know exactly why they aren’t around: Mario coldly and systematically murders every last one of them in a one-man assault of the Koopa Kingdom. It’s really simple: Bowser’s limit of beatings per game is usually three, and Mario tears apart 8 “Bowsers” in this game. If Bowser was present in this game at all he would have only been the lizard monster that Mario fights in the last two worlds, limping away at the end before he could be finished off like the others.
 
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Do the math and then pick up the shattered pieces of your mind.

If Kamek had actually told the Koopa family “Hey, by the way, there’s just the craziest super-being who’ll be coming for your heads in about 20 to 30 years time,” then maybe they could have defended themselves. Instead, each level was likely another load of Koopa reinforcements who’ve arrived expecting to face an enemy battalion, only to stare in terror as their friends and comrades are cut down by a single man. I don’t have to convince anyone of Mario’s power, anyone who’s played even a single Mario game should know what he’s capable of, and it was a calculated move on Kamek’s part to ensure the Koopas were as unprepared as possible.

The prophecy had come full circle, Mario had slain all but one of the Bowser line; all that remained was for Kamek to kill Mario and Bowser, then take the throne for himself. Except that wasn’t quite the way it worked out, because it turns out that when you create a powerful, murdering sociopath without a leash, they get ambitious. Mario smashed the Mushroom Kingdom and won the war (which, from the changes in scenery during SMB1, lasted about two days) for the Mushroom Kingdom, a Kingdom which has no army but still somehow won. What person, what city – what empired – would stand up to an enemy that requires no soldiers to win a war?
 
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Mario is like a slower, mustachioed nuke. (With more malevolent intent behind the destruction).

The Mario games chronicle his many successes, not just over Bowser but over all-comers; Kamek’s claim to the throne lies just out of reach because Mario is too powerful, even for him. The Koopa Kingdom, or what remains of it, is seen as such a small threat by Mario that he won’t even bother attack them unless first provoked. So while Mario traipses about the world, killing rivals or using his own puppet ruler for the more diplomatic affairs, Kamek acts through Bowser, perpetually attempting to bring Mario down so he can claim the power that he so desperately desires.

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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