Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Secret History of Koopa the Quick

I'm sure you all know who the fastest guy in gaming is, right? Too fast for the naked eye? Rolls around at the speed of sound? Wears super cool speedy sneakers? You got it! I'm talking about Mario's friendly athletic rival, Koopa the Quick.

Koopa the Quick was first introduced, and seemingly resigned to, the fantabulous Super Mario 64 and its woniferous port Super Mario 64 DS (am I the only one who still prefers to call it Super Mario 64x4?). He showed up twice in the game, and was, astonishingly, the only Koopa Troopa featured at all in the game. Unless you're one of those blokes (or ladies... shall we call you bladies? Blakies? Blakes? She-blokes? Forget it, bloke no longer has gender connotations. Everyone's a bloke!) who considers the poor saps running around in the chapter of Quick's defeat to be some other nameless Koopa Troopa. I really don't feel like that's the case.

IN ANY INTENTIONALLY REPETITIVE CASE, Koopa the Quick appears in Bob-Omb Battlefield and near his personal training course on Tiny Huge Island. He's the self-proclaimed fastest Koopa in the world, and there really isn't any evidence to the contrary! When you first meet him you'll notice he's really damn big (like everything else on the N64) and probably crap yourself, knowing what Koopas do to Italian plumbers. However, Koopa the Quick doesn't seem to take much of an interest in crushing Mario's mustache. Instead he challenges you to a race in which he most assuredly cheats, but scolds you for doing so. If Mario wins Koopa the Quick will peacefully hand over the treasured Power Star for that chapter, and everyone goes about their day as though they didn't just book it through a warzone where the combatants are born-to-die suicide bombers (oh, there's a blog for another day. The Mushroom Kingdom's natural terrorists.)

Run, Bombette, run! He wants his virgins!
In the chapters following your footraces with Koopa the Quick, a much smaller Koopa can be found in a specific location of the course, meandering around and minding his own business. Wouldn't a Koopa Troopa  who actually worked for Bowser attempt to blindly run off a cliff at Mario instead of totally book it in the opposite direction of the crazy little man in the red hat trying to jump on him? This implies that the Koopas featured in the stages aren't evil members of the Koopa Pack, but probably Koopa the Quick sulking over his defeat. At this point in the Mario mythos the plumber hasn't really encountered a decent Koopa (but don't worry, Paper Mario will happen soon), so he just assumes: "Turtle! Kill turtle!"

"But Koopa the Quick is way bigger than Mario when you race him..."

Yeah. But I mean, aren't there things in the Mario universe that have the specific purpose of making things larger? Hint: Yes. This would make Koopa the Quick's actual size the actual size of a Koopa Troopa. With no other distinguishing physical aspects, Koopa the Quick really is just another Koopa.

BUT WAIT. He may not have any distinguishing physical aspects, but Koopa the Quick has quite a personality. He's competitive, friendly, a fairly good sport, a fan of athletics, and a Koop-a his word. Those traits set him apart from the other characterless drones we've helped strip and stomp over the years. And that's not all. Koopa the Quick, as his name informs us, is the possessor of an ability unique among his species: he's quick. Koopa the Quick can zip around like Speedy Gonzales, and there's nothing he likes more than to prove it.

So just what am I getting at here? This is supposed to be Koopa the Quick's secret history, but so far all I've done is blab about stuff everybody with one of those oddly phallic N64 controllers would know about? I hope, whoever you are that said, you are not very well versed in your Mario. If you are, you should see where I'm going with this.
Here. This is where I'm going.
Koopa the Quick wasn't left to rot on old cartridges and failing DS card things. He's been with us all along, and he was probably with us before he gave himself a title. Without any defining characteristics and a name shared by his entire species (see: Yoshi, Birdo, Toad, Waddle Dee, Pikachu), it's easy to see how even the in-universe characters might not identify him as a particular Koopa. Especially considering the strained relationship between the Toads and essentially every other species living on the Mushroom Planet. It's understandable that they might just simply call all visually indistinct Koopas (especially the ones named "Koopa") either "Koopa" or "Koopa Troopa."

But maybe this is just a regular Koopa Troopa marching around the tennis court, baseball diamond, race track, soccer field--what's left? Oh right, I forgot the cricket field. That's possible. After all, Bowser probably wants to win pretty bad. He likes shiny things, and trophies are damn shiny. So he'd probably just pack the tournament full of his own guys, and snatch up the trophies later. That makes sense.

Or maybe the Koopa featured in the Mario Sports games have no problem with beating Bowser, because he isn't that Koopa's kind. Maybe this same Koopa who enters sporting events so frequently that he was already registered for Mario Kart 64 until Wario stole his kart is our good friend Koopa the Quick. Let's go over it again real quick.

Koopa the Quick is hyper-competitive and prides himself in his physical abilities, challenging random passerby to sporting and athletic events just to get his blood pumping. I would say somebody with that attitude, and Quick's determination to better himself (he runs on a tiny bridge with a sadistic cloud who wants to kill him every single day) would quickly rush to the registration booth. And quickly is what Koopa does best, as he is always, without fail, without having ever missed a beat, placed in the "Speed" class of characters. And he's running right up with the best of them in every single game.

Koopas tend not to be fast minus one. That's why they slide around in their shells. They just can't get faster on their feet. So it doesn't make sense for any old Koopa to be speedy, let alone speedy enough to be registered in the "Speed" class. So naturally, this sports-enthusiastic bird-turtle isn't just any old Koopa. He's Koopa the Quick.

Koopa the Quick, one of the most beloved characters of Super Mario 64. One of the most treasured heroes by fans. One of the most supposedly overlooked characters in Mario history. Axe that last one. One of the most under appreciated characters in Mario history. But if anything, one of the core cast, one of the dependable elite, one of the few who will come back again and again and never let you down. He'll just keep  fighting and fighting until he finally gets the recognition he deserves.

For that, Koopa the Quick, I commend you.

Koopa the Quick
Inducted into the Athletic Heroes Hall of Fame
November 5th, 2012 at 1:11 AM

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