Monday, May 21, 2007

The Queen of Diamonds, Basically

So I have an affinity for various forgotten aspects of video games I played long ago. Included in this interests are minor female characters, who by virtue of being female are rarely a game's central character and by virtue of being minor tend to express personality traits not often associated with a central heroine, who usually must be beautiful and benevolent and rather sexless. Recently, I've been thinking about the damsel-in-distress that awaits players at the end of a more recent game, Wario Land Advance, the fourth in the a series that spun off of the Mario Land games, which marked the Nintendo mascot's entry into the world of handheld video game systems. Two titles in, however, Nintendo pitted Mario against his evil alterego, Wario, who proved immediately popular and starred as the antihero of the third game, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3. From then on, the games disregarded the Mario Land numbering and followed Wario Land as if it had been the first. Wario Land Advance is often called Wario Land 4.

Anyway, in this game, Wario is raiding the Golden Temple, whose former owner, the purportedly dead Princess Shokora, is the woman who awaits rescue at the end. What's especially interesting about Shokora — other than the fact that her being dead has apparently not freed her from the threat of kidnapping — is that she actually appears throughout the game — as the black cat who follows Wario throughout the Golden Pyramid and as the Mr. Game & Watch-looking fellow who peddles items for Wario to use in boss battles. The curse placed placed on her by the Golden Diva — the game's big bad— apparently lets Shokora exist in any shape other than her own.

So on top of appearing in multiple forms in the game — thus eliminating the possibility of finding a "true" Shokora — there's few images of her available online. Even a Google search won't turn up much.

Thus, I present the following.

your princess is an alley cat

game & princess

As for what Shokora actually looks like, I'm still not so sure. In the game's ending sequence, she appears to Wario in one of four form, depending on how much treasure Wario has collected over the course of the game.

clockwise from the top left: best, good, not so good, bottom of the barrel

If Wario collects all the available treasure, he gets a rather stern-looking Shokora with cropped hair and what would appear to be a prince's outfit. The runner-up form — the Princess Peach look-alike — is then not the "best" form Wario can meet, even though she certainly looks more like a typical end-of-the-game damsel than the ultimate prize. To complicate the matter somewhat, an image of a newspaper glimpsed during the game's intro shows a black-and-white photo of Shokora that would seem to be based off her "runner-up" form and not the somewhat masculinized version.

Could this be a joke on Wario? Like, he's such an anti-hero that his completion of the game to its fullest is rewarded with a sort of joke prize of a less feminine damsel. It reminds me of the ending of the first Wario Land game, in which Wario strives to obtain a large-scale statue of Princess Peach to give to her as a gift, only to have Mario sweep in and snatch it away at the last moment. Or could this be more of a commentary on video game damsels, with Shokora's appearance becoming increasingly appealing the richer Wario gets? Is the final, less cute version indicative of Shokora's financial interests? Odd stuff, to say the least. At least anybody else trying to find images of Princess Shokora's various forms will be able to.

And as for Baby Shokora and Wario-looking Shokora... Well, I wouldn't want to get a kiss from them either.

EDIT: I was twiddling about online today and ending up looking at a Japanese-to-English dictionary and found that Shokora's name is actually the Japanese approximation for the English word "chocolate," which would put her in league with most of the other women in the Mario and Wario game universe, who nearly always seem to be named after things that taste good, smell nice or are pretty to look at.

Other goings-on with the ladies in the games with the Mario:


  1. The richest, most stylish princess would be the androgynous one for sure. The more typically feminine one has a prude, outdated look and today androgynous short hair is very fashionable and worthy of a princess. The short haired one actually is supposed to be more appealing, if you look at her face shape and suggested features. She also isn't wearing those awful puffy sleeves. In the end, the richest hero would find a princess whose taste surpasses peach, as shown.

  2. I don't understand why you think the newspaper princess is better than the final. She looks like she has more money, is a lot more sophisticated - better for a guy who's fond of his cash, like Wario