Sunday, February 10, 2013

King Bob-Omb or Big Bob-Omb?

In the days of the 1990's—while most you whippersnappers were still wearing diapers—there was an explosion of revolutionary new video games being released for the glorious console known as the Nintendo 64. Those were the days of Super Mario 64, Paper Mario, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. In those days we were treated to an expanding Mushroom Universe, complete with special kings to work beneath Bowser's rule.

Leading the charge was King Bob-Omb, a man of massive moustache. His debut coincided with the arrival of the whomps and their respective King Whomp. Shortly after, in the amazing first instalment of the Paper Mario series, we met the leader of the goomba tribe: King Goomba. On the Gamecube came Luigi's arch-nemesis: King Boo.

There's a pretty clear naming scheme here. Take the biggest and baddest member of a species and shove the word "King" infront of it. I'm sure some people thought this was boring and unoriginal, and to an extent that's true. However, this is all an homage to the original tyrannical baddie. The first leader of tiny minions. King Koopa. You don't really think about it because Bowser is such a developed character. Bowser, King Koopa, what more do you want? He's the epitome of all evil.

He also happens to be King of the Koopas. As in, he's a larger member of his race who goes by the typical "King of My People" trope. His name, or at least the title, is absolutely no different from the naming scheme of every other baddie royal in the franchise. King Koopa, King Goomba, King Bob-Omb. Hell, even Princess Toadstool fits this trope.

But okay, maybe it gets a little old. Or, as my brain works on it now, maybe these titles were never the actual names for these characters. Maybe they really are just titles. Bowser is King Koopa, Peach is Princess Toadstool, and the others are referred to as King so-and-so as an honorific. That's actually a cool concept. I like it.

Then the Nintendo DS came out, and with it a really awesome remake of Super Mario 64... And some really fucking stupid renames for nearly decade-old characters. King Bob-Omb was suddenly "Big Bob-Omb", King Goomba was suddenly "Goomboss." What the hell? Why do that? What is the literal difference between Big Bob-Omb and King Bob-Omb besides making the character seem less kingly, and somehow less important.

I admit, Goomboss has grown on me. Goomboss, the Goomba King. I like it. But Big Bob-Omb the Bob-Omb King? No. That. No. I would have even settled for Bomboss, but that would make Goomboss all the more generic and less unique himself. That would overplay the boss motif. Why not just leave King Bob-Omb as King Bob-Omb? Or come up with a unique name like they have for so many other characters?

I don't know, guys. It seems to me that this is another attempt by Miyamoto to downplay the characters of the Super Mario franchise who aren't the Big 8—I'd argue that we're down to a Big 5 (Mario, Yoshi, Peach, Bowser, and Luigi) and any other characters need to be generecized into oblivion. It kind of pisses me off. Sure, there were billions of characters, but they became popular because they were all good characters. I suppose this is a case of over-editing. Just totally revising something until it's so whitewashed and boring that nobody really cares anymore.

I seriously hope I don't get to that point.

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