The organisation PETA or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, recently released a little flash based game on their website. The premise of this game is based upon the recently released Nintendo 3DS game “Super Mario 3D Land”. This game is a lot like your good old fashioned Mario games; you feature as the Italian-American plumber himself, and navigate your way through largely linear (although now with 3D elements) landscapes. You also encounter several of Mario’s traditional “power-ups” like mushrooms, stars, and as perhaps only the moor die-hard Mario fans will remember; the “Tanooki suit”.
This is a simple suit that allows the user to glide, almost fly, attack using a tail, become a statue and all while dressing up Mario like a cute brown racoon. In fact this racoon-like Tanooki is based directly on a real life animal called a “Tanuki” or “Japanese racoon dog”. Many of the powers awarded to Mario by the suit are indeed based upon real life Japanese myths about the Tanuki. PETA have recently slated Mario for his eagerness to wear the skin of an animal, which in real life are killed and skinned for their fur.
To show their distaste, PETA released the game “Super Tanooki Skin 2D”, a very simple flash game in which the user plays a skinned racoon, traversing a bloodied and twisted version of a Super Mario landscape, in an attempt to catch a flying Mario and regain your fur. And of course if this isn’t enough of an overly copyright-ridden exaggeration, you also get a nice side picture of a blood covered fur suit wearing Mario, shown holding a dead racoons head.
Now, I’m all for the ethical treatment of animals, and personally I wouldn’t wear fur and find it awful that some animals are being skinned alive (according to PETA) just to get their fur. But the thing I have a problem with, is how on Earth PETA have the nerve or mentality to condemn a fictional character for wearing a suit (obtained not by skinning a Tanuki, but by finding a stray leaf) that grants him special powers. And I also found the way they went about this kind of odd; a formal protest would be one thing, but the release of such a stupid flash game completely trivialised their quite serious real life cause.
Granted, their flash game was hard to take seriously, and more recently PETA stated that was exactly their intent; the game was apparently not meant to be a serious condemnation of Mario, but rather a way of drawing the public to the issue of skinning live animals for their fur. PETA stated that they were shocked just how literally this campaign was taken, but to be honest, I wasn’t; PETA decided to pretty much mock one of the world’s most beloved fictional characters, (rated top of the Guinness World Records’ top 50 video games characters) just after the release of one of his most anticipated video games, and stated “By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it’s OK to wear fur.” All based on claims that can’t apply to a fictional character in this sense, it’s not surprise that fans of the Mario series were a tad agitated.
Of course Nintendo had no need to do so, but they recently responded by saying “light-hearted and whimsical transformations make no statement beyond the games themselves.”
If you really have NOTHING to do, (and I stress that) you can of course try out PETA’s flash game here: http://features.peta.org/mario-kills-tanooki/