Monday, April 28, 2008

Princess Daisy Stole My Face!

A short history of an endlessly enthusiastic princess.

Today, Daisy serves to make the Mario games’ Princess Peach more appealing by comparison. Sure, Peach has the social agency of a jar of mayonnaise and can’t seem to keep herself from being kidnapped on a monthly basis, but put her next to Daisy and Peach seems like she’s actually worth all the effort of rescuing her. Daisy today mostly shows up in Mario spin-offs — golf, tennis, go-kart matching, probably badminton someday — and fills the role of a female “player two” in that she’s a partner either for Peach or Luigi — or, that is, a clonish buddy for the leadying lady or a clonish girlfriend for the guy who himself is kind of clonish. Not an enviable position to be in, I guess, but hey — she’s been in more games that most video game characters.

Daisy first appeared in Super Mario Land, a 1989 Game Boy title much in the style of the original Super Mario Bros.. By that I mean that it plays a lot like Super Mario Bros. but has a certain exotic flair that that game lacked. No towering mushrooms in the background for this one: it’s instead pyramids and general Egypt drag, the stone faces of Easter island or traditional Japanese scenery, depending on what level you’re playing through. Super Mario Land is also the only Mario game designed not by Nintendo wizard Shigeru Miyamoto but the late, great Gunpei Yukoi. Perhaps in an effort to make this installment of the series his own, Yukoi renamed and slightly restyled a lot of standard Mario elements. (The Koopa Troopas, for example, turn into bombs when Mario stomps them instead of offering up their shells as a kickable projectile weapon. That’s some mind-blowing shit right there.) Included in this effort was a new skirt to be rescued, Daisy, whose color scheme has always reminded me more of how Peach looked in the original Super Mario Bros.

daisy per super mario land, her lass flattinering in-game
appearance, and peach in super mario bros.

(Sidebar: I’m nearly tempted to guess that Daisy might have taken her name from Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. Miyamoto has said in interviews that the damsel-in-distress from the Legend of Zelda games, Princess Zelda, was named after Zelda Fitzgerald. That being said, it seems plausible that Nintendo creative types would be familiar enough with Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald to have read Gatsby. If Miyamoto himself had created Daisy, I’d say the chances were especially high, but he didn’t — Yukoi is credited with creating her. The matter remains a little mystery for me and whatever other Nintendo diehards may be following along.)

Just as Luigi started out as a perfect palette swap for Mario, Daisy began as a differently colored Peach — a Midge to Peach’s Barbie, if you will. And she remained that way for about a decade, with a few blink-and-miss cameos in the meantime. When Nintendo reintroduced her in 2000 for the Nintendo 64 version of Mario Tennis, she showed up with a slightly new look: the improbably combination of tan skin and red hair.

It didn’t last.

By the time the Gamecube arrived, Daisy sported a different look: fair skin and a brunette do.

I know, I know — big fucking whoop, the girl got a makeover. I’m only writing about this because Nintendo did something interesting in piecing together this B-lister’s new face.

There’s a company called Camelot that handles a lot of the Mario Golf and Mario Tennis titles in which Daisy so often appears. A lot of these games also feature a host of generic human characters, for whatever reason. One of these is a little lady named Azalea who, to put it bluntly, had Daisy’s face before Daisy herself did.

See? Same colors, same eyes, and the same hair too, if it wasn’t for the stupid hat.

Way weird, I think, that Nintendo apparently didn’t take the effort to design a whole new look for Daisy and — at best — borrowed from an existing C-lister or — at worst — stole some poor girl’s face. And that’s not to mention the strangeness in making a character’s skin look noticeably whiter.

We know your shame, Daisy. You owe someone a face.

Other noteworthy Mario-related posts:


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. All you're doing is calling Daisy a lothsome copy of both Peach and Azalea.