We did it! We're finally at the final stage...Hope you've saved your progress...
Over the last few weeks, I've churned out visual redesigns, upgrades, and a provided you all with an alternate point of view to characters we all know and love. This series was a creative exercise, one where I could recall this experience as yet more practice in my craft and have fun doing it. I want to thank all of you, from our regular awesome TAY crew to our Kotaku readers for viewing all the sets and taking the time out to read all my crazy thoughts and ramblings.
I learned a lot from this series, in terms of character designs, how to handle and appreciate criticisms, and how to put out work and be confident with my results. This was a learning experience that has helped me create some of my finest work to date...Yet here I stand, looking back during this short time knowing that one day, I will be able to do so much more and still yearn for greater.
So, again, thanks everyone for your input, comments, critiques, kind words, and your time! Without further delay, let's take a look at this final set!
This isn't even my final form! Or maybe it is -for when Mario is in need of taking down tyrant kings, our hero plumber comes well prepared!
This form is made up of multiple power ups, which Mario can switch and use on the fly.
This "Super Mario" is a reskin to the Mario concept I introduced at the beginning of this series. With my rendition of King Koopa, one can see that it's going to take quite a lot from any hero to knock down the titan. I thought this was a perfect way to introduce the concept and title of Super Mario, and pay homage to several power ups we've used over the years.
"Super Mario" is usually relegated as the naming convention for the actual titles of the franchise. Thus, that little detail made me excited to actually come up with a "Super Mario", a version of our hero who will become legend and a true "super hero" . My story, my version of Mario had the focus of delivering the character and his brother into familiar territory - and base them off of actual plumbers. I truly feel that letting their true occupation shine gives them a chance to be grounded into reality and makes their adventures in the fantasy world of the Mushroom Kingdom more interesting - like fish out of water.
Having a plumber becoming a super hero makes this form even more exciting, both gameplay and story wise. It certainly looks like I took a page out of Super Skrull's playbook, or even the Avatar from The Last Airbender franchise with this design. The concept of an omniscient being capable of juggling multiple abilities has been explored before, and I think is appropriate for Mario who has come across so many power ups over the years.
Here in this shot, we see his winged cap from Super Mario 64, alongside an invisible and metal arm rounding out power ups from that game. Being able to coat his body in metal and turn invisible for brief moments give Mario great defensive capabilities. He can either coat his body in one whole power- up or allocate various areas of it for whatever reason necessary.
With the wing cap, you might wonder why he's sporting a tanooki tail. Being a classic power up, I had to add the tail, but I also found it would help round out even more ability for the plumber. I can't picture my version of our heroes, including Mario, being able to fly. My take on the wing cap is that his jumping ability has even greater height and reach. His long jumps allows him to clear greater gaps, and can jump higher vertically with each consecutive jump.
Having the tanooki tail allows Mario to hover back down slowly at his own discretion, and also gives him an extra "limb" to attack with.
The main element of the Super Mario design was going with an alternate color palette, and the fire flower power up grants him a very recognizable red and white scheme I used here to separate him from the normal look. He is capable of shooting fireballs from either hand, and can create a larger more complex "beam" a la his final smash from Super Smash Bros.
It was hinted earlier that Yoshi may have two forms in this series as well. This larger version is not a form that the previous Yoshi can assume into, but rather a whole separate variation and entity. Yoshi's that are native to their home, Yoshi's Island, are smaller and carry human stance and mannerisms.
Yoshi's that have been domesticated to Mushroom Kingdom often evolve at a rapid pace through the diet of the foreign land - with Mushrooms being linked to the growth spurt. Many breeders in the Mushroom Kingdom have created a business out of growing such a gallant creature, selling and leasing them to buyers for a number of reasons.
One of the most popular reasons, and most practical, are using them as mounts and vehicles for transportations, especially by the Toadstool Royal family and army. Mario and company, for their services, were given Super Yoshi who have been honored with full ceremony. It is this same Yoshi that Mario travels with time and time again, having developed a strong bond over the years. Mario has named his Yoshi "Hino".
His Super Yoshi is fearless, often ignoring danger even against the wishes of Mario. Hino is capable of breathing flame and clearing large gaps with long and high jumps. Its kicks are powerful as are their tails when used as sweeping whips. Super Yoshis are also very fast and can pick up running speeds that can rival real world Cheetahs.
The combination of Super Mario and Super Yoshi may just be enough to defeat the final bosses...
When having decided to go for a redesign of the bipedal cutesy Yoshi we know today, I gave up giving the opportunity for Mario to have a mount and companion. I really like how the first Yoshi came out, and it seems that many of you did as well. I may have gotten one or two requests and questions about missing out on a traditional Yoshi that Mario rides in games like Super Mario World, Sunshine, and Galaxy 2 which further cemented I should add this character to my list of reworks.
As I kept moving along with this series, I came to realize the tone I was developing around was hopping about "medieval fantasy" with some modern elements to keep things grounded. As such, my visions about how these two (3 including Wart) forces battling revolved around legitimate armies with commanders. Soon, Mario and company were fighting specialists like the Koopa Korp. and other minions were led by generals and leaders like Petey Piranha and King Boo.
All this kept dancing around and I soon saw Mario as a "knight" and he needed a "horse". Thus, by looking at Super Mario World's rendition of Yoshi, more larger in size and shaped a like a traditional raptor, I use that opportunity to come up with a redesign for old school Yoshi and am glad to have him on board for this series.
The goal was to make him realistic but also cartoony enough to fit the style of the series. The second goal was to make him cute but also formidable. He needed to look like he was as determined as his master Mario and to be fully aware of his role in all this, opposed to being simply just a vehicle.
King Koopa's most loyal assistant and official court vizier. King Koopa has been in the care of Kamek his whole life, so it is safe to say that he considers him more than family, and treats the King almost like a son. Kamek was once ruthless and dangerous - in his younger years, he was carefree and drunk with power . His arcane magic granted him great strength but also took a toll on his health and body. No one is sure how Kamek grew to learn such magic, as the understanding of the arts have been lost for some time.
Now that Kamek has seen it all, in his old age he is simply tired. He cannot move the way he used, rarely transforming his staff into the broom he would use as a vehicle to travel. He is sluggish and sleeps more than he would study the arcane. Where King Koopa's quest for power was once a goal he shared with enthusiasm, he is now indifferent and goes along with his master's wishes without revealing his true feelings regarding the matter.
Using what little life force he has left, he creates the Magikoopas that torment our heroes through their journey. It is only through those artificial forms he can pour his life force into to feel youthful once again, for brief moments at a time.
Kamek gave up long ago of pursuing diplomacy and providing meaningful ideas to counter King Koopa's rules and reign. Instead, Kamek is happy to go with whatever direction his master decides. Kamek will die at King Koopa's side - he is loyal to the master, he is loyal to the position, and he will fulfill his role even against his own personal wishes and way of mind. That is the dedication Kamek has for King Koopa.
You guys got a glimpse to the younger Kamek earlier, during the reveal of the Koopa Korp. When it was revealed that the entity known as "Magikoopa" was a figurative and literal extension of Kamek, you saw that Magikoopa was youthful in appearance and atittude - he's "surfing" on his broom! This was done to showcase how the now frail and old Kamek is able to relive his younger years through the medium of magic.
My concept of Kamek is designed to imitate a decrepit hunchback, which I give the impression by actually disguising a shell as seen in the superior Koopa subspecies - so yes, this Kamek is an upgrade from the old - he is more on par with King Koopa than one would realize. I did this to give Kamek more authority as someone with that much power - having an appearance similar to Bowser's would command fear and respect from anyone who saw hi,.
As for a staff, I wanted to make it very unique and interesting. It didn't take me long to realize that the Spiny Shell from Mario Kart (which I always call simply the "blue shell") is not really connected with the main Mario games at all. It kinda just came out of nowhere (or I might be ignorant, which in that case leave in the comments its origins, please and thanks!) and now it has a home as a decorative piece for Kamek's instrument of destruction. It worked out well as the blue shell obviously matches the blue robes that Kamek and Magikoopas have traditionally worn in the various games.
King Koopa, Bowser
At a young age, this subspecies of koopa, dubbed "mega koopas" (grown larger than traditional koopas as a random genetic mutation infused with the mushroom kingdom diet as seen with another reptilian species, the Yoshis) learn to live on their own and battle to survive; infants have a high mortality rate. The weak die off and the strong grow only stronger, taking one another down to ensure their own chance for survival, hence why Mega Koopas are so rarely seen.
The Koopas do not have any sort of traditional hierarchal culture or strict set of rules to adhere to when it comes to royalty. Well, that's not entirely true...There are a few established laws but they are constantly being abused or altered - Koopas rely on power to take what they want - including the title of king.
When the Mega Koopa of the time falls, all able Mega Koopas take it upon themselves to fight for the title of king...a literal race for the title begins soon after. Whoever holds the ceremonial sword becomes leader. However, holders of the sword place themselves in mortal danger - Mega Koopas will kill the newly assumed leaders and another will take that place, and the cycle continues until no remaining challengers and threats remain. After a week on the throne, the Mega Koopa officially drops his or her name and takes the title of King Koopa, and is recorded in official history.
Thus, after the new Koopa King earns the throne, they may rest easy knowing that no available challengers will be present until quite some time after. Because any other potential candidate is dead, and that the next generation of kingslayers will only make way only 40-50 years from then (as the species goes through a long, slow, and extended period of growth and maturation), King Koopas can sit on the throne for quite some time. This of course is not always the case, as they are warrior kings, and many die earlier in battle.
The ruthless tyrant King Koopa seen above was born "Bowser", a name that was kept for identifying the potential taker of the throne until it was tossed aside when he reached his destiny.
Bowser is the only recorded Mega Koopa to have been the first to reach the sword and stay alive to keep the title until he was the last one standing, slaughtering all challengers that came after him. To put his abilities on display, it is rare that even the 8th or 9th candidate to hold the sword was able to fend off remaining Mega Koopas.
Because of this record and his display of power, Bowser is highly regarded as the greatest warrior king the Koopa tribe had ever witnessed in recent history. In addition to that feat, Bowser has had the largest army to date, recruiting more Koopas than ever before. Many of the koopa tribe fled home to join the army to stand in the shadow of the king. Bowser is also seen as a great tactician and strategist, leading him to victory unlike many previous King Koopas who relied only on brute strength.
Bowser took a while to paint and get down - he is the largest character of the series - making Donkey Kong look like a hobbit and Mario look like an ant. And that was exactly what I pictured between these main heroes. Bowser and Donkey Kong represent Godzilla and King Kong, and I picture Godzilla to be considerably larger than the ape, and Mario as a normal human should be looking up to the monstrosity like he does in this rendition.
Bowser has seen a number of shifts in size, between his depictions in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. I wanted to create a "David vs. Goliath" scenario and I think it's very important to show the difference in size and how it should be an uphill battle for the plumber and company.
Giving Bowser a sword, and tying a backstory into it was part of my effort of really making him look like a general, a leader, a warrior king. The sword is largely ceremonial, and I tried to instill "koopa" qualities into it. I'm not really too familiar with designing weapons, and I could see myself making changes down the line, perhaps making it look more worn and damaged over the years.
Other than that, Bowser is largely the same - his hairstyle is a bit altered in that its longer and a bit more flowy, and his color scheme matches the changes I made in his son, Bowser Jr. His eyes were made more menacing, and his general physical appearance is much more leaner than his round self before. Overall, I think he looks a lot more intimidating and performs a balancing act depicting royalty and brutality.
And there you have it! The last of "Redesigning Super Mario Bros."! I hope you've enjoyed today's set, and the entire run I've managed to scrounge up over the last few weeks. Again, I want to thank you for reading and viewing, and taking time to give me your thoughts and help me learn more about myself as an artist.
Be sure to go through the rest of the sets in case you missed any and look forward to some new posts throughout the rest of the week. Pokemon One a Day will finally resume at the start of next week.
All the best,