Super Mario characters talking has never sat right with me. Not counting the animated film starring Chris Pratt and Anya Taylor-Joy, the games have largely avoided giving lines to most characters because it’s a bit weird and out of place. Princess Peach reads a letter to kick off Super Mario 64 and Sunshine has a handful of voiced cutscenes – which I hate, to be clear – but otherwise the only dialogue we see is in text boxes, and the only noises we hear are a mixture of delightful cheers and grunts from our delightful roster of heroes. That is, until now.
Wonder, which was the focus of a brief Nintendo Direct earlier today, has talking flowers that seem to be present in the majority of levels. They are both friendly faces (petals?) for Mario to see while traversing the flower kingdom and a tool to dish out tutorials and hints if players happen to get stuck. On the surface, it’s a cool idea in a platformer that is already bringing in heroes who can’t be killed and manual checkpoints to make things easier for people, but this feels like a step too far. For one, the flower’s voice is obnoxiously sweet and feels like it will get old very fast. I also don’t know if I can turn the fucker off if he gets annoying.
Nobody else in this game appears to talk like a regular human. If anything, it leans even further into absurdity with dancing animals and psychedelic flowers which transform your environment and skills into something we’ve never seen the series attempt before. Suddenly being interrupted by a talking flower capable of mimicking normal speech is a ridiculous move. If this dude is going to spout lines at me everytime I pass him by with no way of silencing him I will no doubt rip my hair out, and be completely taken out of what is otherwise a splendorous fantasy world. Also – do we really need his help in the first place?
With Charles Martinet stepping away from the role of Mario, Luigi, Wario, and a handful of others in the Mario pantheon, fans will already be tempted to critique the new renditions I expect to see in Wonder, and I doubt that will go down well if a random flower is taking up almost all the airtime. We changed Mario, but hey, at least this tutorial flower is hanging out in every level now. His lifeless eyes, disembodied voice, and willingness to help you avoid tough challenges might seem wholesome on the surface, but I reckon the motive is infinitely more sinister. I don’t trust this flower, and neither should you.
Here’s hoping his presence is optional, since I doubt seasoned players will want obnoxious tutorials or hints thrown at them when running through levels for the umpteenth time. The solution would be to introduce a button prompt to trigger his speech or a toggle to remove the flower from a level entirely. Because I’ll be honest, I don’t want him anywhere near me.
Next: Starfield Wouldn’t Be The Same With A Spoken Protagonist