To say that Mario and Princess Peach are the perfect couple would be somewhat of an overstatement. The perpetually-in-peril Peach (say that five times fast) is constantly in need of rescuing, and it usually falls on the broad shoulders of the plumber-turned-hero Mario to save her, making their relationship one of necessity than of romance. They’ve never shared more than a peck on the cheek. However, they are one of the most intertwined couples in all of video game history, and my choice for favourite video game couple.
In 1985, a mild-mannered plumber was tasked with the duty of saving a princess (it happens every day!…doesn’t it?), known then as Princess Toadstool. After being duped so may times by a fake princess (sorry, but your princess is in another castle!), he finally rescued the REAL princess, and they lived happily ever after. But did they really? I mean if you think about it, after you busted your hump through 7 worlds only to find her in the 8th, she doesn’t even give you a grateful hand shake! Not even a pixelated smile! It is this unrequited love that defines the princess/plumber bond, and makes one wonder if Mario was “friend zoned” right out of the gate.
For the last 25 years or so, their relationship has been stuck in a perpetual loop. Peach gets kidnapped, Mario needs to rescue her. It’s as though Peach took lessons from Kim Bauer in the TV series 24. Rare is the time when Peach is NOT kidnapped or in trouble. There have been times when Mario and Peach do get some quality time together outside of the typical hero/damsel in distress scenario however, but it almost always includes battling each other in competition, furthering my earlier friend-zone revelation. Games like Mario Kart and any Mario Sports game always pit Mario against Peach (and others) to see who comes out on top.
While it would seem that their fates have been connected since that first fateful encounter, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would spend 25 years continuously chasing and rescuing a girl who seems to have no interest in him other than the fact that he’s been pulling her out of binds for a quarter of century. Yet, somehow, they just keep showing up together, here and there, for a basketball game or a kart race. If Mario has indeed been relegated to the friend zone, it doesn’t seem to bother him, and you can bet that the next time Bowser taps Mario on the shoulder and then steals Peach from him when he’s not looking, Mario will be off and running to get her back.