5 Classic Video Game Plots That Are Still around Today (Despite Being Totally Sexist)

    September 10, 2012 at 8:15 am

    sexist ladies header

    During the golden age of video games called the 1980s, there were a lot of plots that could be considered ridiculously sexist, today. Which is why we’re so surprised that some of these plots have managed to survive until now. Over the following week, we will examine the most egregious stalwarts of sexual equality, and rip on them with nerd rage. We start with a lady who just can’t resist getting kidnapped…

    #5 Super Mario Bros

    super mario

    Plot in 1986: Everyman plumber must assist helpless princess in escaping from a horrible mushroom trip

    Plot in 2010: Seasoned adventurer/plumber must assist still-helpless princess in escaping from another galaxy

    “Hero saves the princess” has been a plot mainstay since the Renaissance, but Super Mario Bros. takes this stereotypical plot, strips off its shoes, and shoves it into the kitchen. Over the decades, Mario and his friends have evolved. Toad runs a shop and works out a lot, Yoshi has become a faithful sidekick, even Luigi has come into his own persona for a couple of vacuum cleaner-oriented games. But the pretty, blonde Princess Peach never grows. She’s still the same inept, kidnappable giggler that she always was. This has been drilled into the heads of gamer kids for multiple generations. Seriously, whether she’s visiting the far corners of the galaxy or being made of paper, Princess Peach gets kidnapped.

    Peach closeup
    It’s called mace. Buy some at Toad’s shop

    After enduring this for 25 years, we have to suspect that Peach’s royal father wants her gone. In fact, despite his daughter’s penchance for getting abducted more than a drunk midwestern farmer, the Mushroom King has never made an appearance in any game to go look for her. Not to mention her relationship with Mario never seems to evolve. Forget about warp zones, that moustachioed plumber is forever stuck in Peach’s friend zone.

    It hasn’t been all about getting kidnapped for Peach. She was given the chance to shine in her own line of game series, taking the reins to rescue a now-helpless Mario and friends. Finally, Peach could show a generation of gamer girls that women can do anything that male video game heroes do. Except she didn’t. The Super Princess Peach game involves Peach solving obstacles by literally getting emotional. Her main weapons are emotions, we’re surprised she doesn’t wield a rolling pin or a frying pan, as well.

    Peach closeup
    Gotta save something for the other games, huh?

    The Exception That Proves the Rule:

    Super Mario Bros. 2

    The sequel featured a Princess Peach that could actually do stuff. Enormous long jumps, picking up objects and throwing them, Peach was a regular old video game hero, just like the guys. Except this game wasn’t designed to be Super Mario Bros. In fact, in Japan it was released as an unrelated game called “Doki Doki Panic.” Upon its exportation to America, the SMB franchise was fused into it, which explains why Peach wasn’t totally useless.

    Now, we can’t blame the original Super Mario Brothers game designers for coming up with the sexist princess plot device. In the early days of video games, Japanese programmers had a lot of trouble figuring out what women want. The creator of Pac-Man had to stalk women in public to figure out their interests. But why can’t Peach get better at stuff, as the decades roll by? It’s a baffling case of grandfathered-in sexism, and one which we choose to find depressingly hilarious.

    Tomorrow: Our fourth most sexist game chops up and serves stewed female empowerment

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