How am I supposed to feel about Elephant Mario?

It’s time to talk about the Elephant Mario in the room.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder was announced a couple of weeks ago in the latest Nintendo Direct. The game looks adorable and charming, with expressive animation and wacky dream-like mechanics. But I didn’t hear about any of that. I only heard about Elephant Mario.

The eponymous Elephant Mario.
In all his glory.

His arrival was saved until the very end of the Direct trailer, like a Marvel end credit scene. The specifics of Mario’s new elephantine form were not elaborated upon, apart from being able to launch a Goomba into orbit with his trunk, leaving much to the collective imagination of the internet.

What is Elephant Mario?

This is no suit that Mario’s wearing, unlike the Tanooki onesie from Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario 3D World’s cat outfit. No, we weren’t so lucky. The trailer makes a considerable effort to highlight Mario’s physical transformation into an actual elephant after eating an (admittedly super cute) Elephant Apple – and just like that, several of the internet’s most notorious fetishes collided.

Elephant Mario apple
Oh, Elephant Apple, you’re too pure for this world.

Twitter was quick to report that over 20 entries for Elephant Mario had popped up on Rule 34 by the conclusion of the Nintendo Direct – with the runtime at just under 44 minutes, you can’t deny that’s an impressive turnaround. I risked a look myself with one eye open, and was unsurprised to find that there are now over 100 posts dedicated to Mario’s bold new look. No, I’m not going to link it.

Why is Elephant Mario?

I’ll hold my hands up and say that I have never delved all too deep into the Mario franchise – maybe I’m missing something? Maybe there’s a deeper meaning to these animalistic power-ups that plays an important role in the Mario Lore (if you, dear reader, happen to be a Mario Lore Historian, please do get in touch – I need to hear your wisdom).

Elephant Mario, mid-transformation.
This is quite the inbetween.

I admit that this particular choice confused me. The Wonder Flower, which is the trailer’s main focus (believe it or not), also offers up a variety of transformative power-ups, like turning Mario into a big red spiky ball, or an unsettlingly elongated version of himself (shown in a slightly eerie, Limbo-style silhouette). The Wonder Flower also offers environmental Wonder Effects, like darkening the level or compelling green pipes to crawl around like surrealist caterpillars. I’m sure even more wild and wonderful power-ups from this mysterious new item will be revealed once Super Mario Bros. Wonder drops in late October of this year.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder - Tall Mario
The stuff of nightmares.

So why the need for the elephant? Why does he get his own power-up? Was Nintendo hoping for this response? I’m genuinely desperate to know how Elephant Mario came to be, but that’s a question for Game Theory Youtube to answer.

Speculation aside, Super Mario Bros. Wonder looks fantastic, with a slew of creative decisions that breathe new life into the classic Mario 2D platformer. The updated art style is charming, the mechanics are fresh and original, and it looks like a whole bunch of fun either as a solo play or a party game. But God, I just can’t get over the elephant – and neither can anyone else, apparently.

I dread to think what THIS guy’s Rule 34 page looks like…

The internet’s reaction to the news was explosive to say the least – the fanart being generated from our first ten-second exposure to Elephant Mario ranges from cute, to funny, to outright distressing. The character seems to have been targeted as prime meme fodder (whether or not this is related to the influx of furry porn is subject to debate). All I can hope for is that the internet acts appropriately if and when it’s revealed that Peach can also use the Elephant Apple. I know that won’t happen, but you have to have hope.

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