We’re now into our second year of a global pandemic and our brains are fried. We’re not up for the serious stuff. So let’s talk about the gaming mysteries that haunt us as we try to sleep.

Is Toad wearing a hat or is that his head?

Melissa Brinks: That’s his head!!! As a Mushroom Person, the spotted part is his… uh, I’ve just learned that that part of a mushroom is called a cap. So both, I guess.

Nola Pfau: That’s definitely his head.

Elvie Mae Parian: Are the Toads simply not elevated, evolved sentient forms of regular mushrooms? He was definitely born with that.

If Drow, Tieflings, and Half-Orcs bad, then why hot? Hmm??


A screenshot of a tweet from Billy Ray Cyrus that reads "Much to think about." The tweet also includes a selfie of Billy Ray, a white man with long golden blonde hair and a dark goatee. He looks pensive. Image source: https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/001/860/170/efb.png

Melissa: I could write a real answer to this question, but instead I’m going to say that it’s because Wizards of the Coast is weak and cowardly and will not survive the winter frosts.

Elvie: As with everything, sin is sexy.

Sara Davis: It’s the commitment to the bit. It doesn’t take half the courage of your convictions to be lawful good.

What has Waluigi done to deserve his unjust exclusion from most Mario games?

Melissa: I could write a real answer to this question, but instead I’m going to say that it’s because Wizards of the Coast Nintendo is weak and cowardly and will not survive the winter frosts.

Elvie: He is a character that has developed far too much power and developed self-awareness. Learning so much dirt on Nintendo through all the years of this conscious state has resulted in the the need for his overlords to keep him at bay.

A screenshot of Mario Tennis Aces showing Waluigi grinning wildly and swinging his racket.

We miss you, king

Is Mario a human man?

Melissa: There is absolutely nothing about Mario that suggests he is a human man. Name one time Mario has done anything remotely human.

Maddi: Mario is human-shaped, but I think that’s where the similarities end. When you go to New Donk City in Super Mario Odyssey, you see humans, and then you see Mario, and they are not the same. They are not the same!!!

Elvie: So the concept of eating mushrooms seems loosely based around… evolution. I can imagine that if Mario ever ate the right mushrooms or plant he would eventually become a “complete” human. I think he is a preliminary stage of our human species: the missing link.

Twitter users want to know:

Melissa: Yes. As Mario’s otherworld counterpart, Wario is a human. According to Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario is Italian, so we can conclude Wario likely is too. And with some 69% of Italians (in Italy) identifying as Catholic, I think the odds are pretty good that Wario is in fact Roman Catholic. Unfortunately I am unable to accept comments or questions about my logic in answering this question.

Doesn’t running around people’s homes, smashing jars, and stealing their stuff make YOU the villain?

Melissa: I get upset when I’m mean to somebody in Love Island: The Game. I can’t stand this attack on my livelihood and I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear it.

Nola: This is literally a point that gets made in a couple of games! I think there’s a character in Zelda that yells at you for smashing their stuff.

Elvie: Oh totally! Of the many times I’ve been scolded by NPCs though, I am not sure why anyone ever goes further beyond that and kicks me out of their homes and sends out a warrant.

Sara: Stealing and fencing household goods is the bread and butter of my RPG play, so I was pretty miffed in the Fable series that so much as paging a tattoo design out of a villager’s bookcase will earn you evil points, and evil points make you grow horns and attract flies.

Alenka Figa: Haha Nola and Sara, I’m happy to hear that, because I love to rib my partner about how the characters she’s playing are actually evil for breaking into people’s houses and taking their stuff!

…If Mario isn’t human, what is he?

Nola: What do you mean, what is he? He’s a plumber. Duh.

Elvie: He’s Italian!

Melissa: A criminal.

Why is Mario hailed as a hero in the Mushroom Kingdom given his serial consumption of mushrooms to increase his own power?

Nola: He is a vengeful god, and the Mushroom People are right to fear and worship him.

Elvie: As I have previously established, the Toad population is, in fact, one and the same with the “lesser” mushrooms of this world. Perhaps Nola is right in that Mario is, indeed, a vengeful, angry god that demands favors through regular sacrifices from his cult, such as future progeny.

Melissa: If Mushroom People are similar to the mushrooms of our world, Mario only consumes their fruiting bodies and not the entirety of the fungus structure. If the Mushroom people so chose, they could defeat Mario with the eldritch power granted to all creatures of the Fungi kingdom, whether in Mario’s world or our own.

[Editor’s note: I am… upset.]

Why are so many of these questions about Mario? Wrong answers only.

Alenka: We live in an uncanny valley world where all questions eventually become about Mario. All questions lead to Mario.

Melissa: Mario is like cordyceps. Wait, hear me out. Where are you going? Don’t you want to hear my theory about how Mario is exactly like a parasitic fungus? (Please note that the cordyceps link contains a fucked-up picture of an ant infected with cordyceps and also some really creepy details about what cordyceps does to a host’s body, so don’t click through unless you, like me, really fucking hate ants and also love reading about all of nature’s bizarro creatures.)