There are many questions raised by the Super Mario Odyssey trailer released at e3: why is Mario scaled differently from the ostensible humans, how does this possession ability work, who is Bowsers tailor? For these questions I have few answers. But while I have little to offer positively, I do want to make an argument that a common theory I’ve heard is probably false.
The idea is that throughout the games we’ve played, Mario has always been possessed by his hat. Cracked released a video laying out the theory today. And I’ll admit, it seems somewhat plausible on the surface.
We know that the hat gives Mario—through some means—the ability to possess both living and no living objects, including dinosaurs, normally scaled humans, fire balls and enemies. Whenever someone or something is possessed, it wears the hat, it grows a little mustache, and mario disappears, taking control, only to leap out of it later.
Now the theory gains it support from the fact that Mario always has a hat and a mustache—so whose to say that Mario is actually in control, and that his apparently sentient hat hasn’t controlled mario through his adventures? A real fungus can control the brains of ants, so whose to say that a similar parasite hasn’t developed in mushroom kingdom, and has been secretly responsible for its greatest hero and his odd proportions?
Well me for one. First off, it strikes me as super unlikely that after years of denying any reference to aminitas muscaria, a dissasosiative mushroom with a red cap and white dots, nintendo would suddenly introduce an obscure mycological reference that I once named a teenaged metal band after. Playing dumb about a hallucinogenic mushroom looking exactly like an icon of your biggest franchise doesn’t look good if you frame a core mechanic around a fungus that grows in an insects brain, and you can’t say that a character is turned into a biological zombie by a fungal hat in the same breath that you say there’s nothing implied by him gobbling down mushrooms.
Furthermore, we’ve seen Mario without his hat in past titles. In Super Mario 64, Marios hat can be taken by a few different enemies, and Mario still functions fine, mustache and all (he is more vulnerable to damage though). Mario is pretty unconcerned through losing his hat, suggesting that he hasn’t suddenly been thrust back into free will in the middle of his adventure.
Finally, the trailer very strongly suggests that Marios hat gains these powers early in the course of the game. Watch it again, and pay close attention to the events about 45 seconds in.
We see the white top hat with eyes flying around on what looks like some sort of ghost (a special boo?), independently of Mario. We see the little top hat ghost fuse into Marios hat. We see Mario wearing the top hat while fighting bowser. It seems that the most likely scenario is that a top hat character, akin to the FLUDD from Sunshine, introduces themselves to Mario and they team up with the possession mechanics. Much like we controlled both Mario and a sentient water gun, we will probably see the top hat ghost introduce a sentient character to marios hat.
Seriously though, Mario does possess the fuck up out that businessman.