Welcome back to Warped Pipes, the series where I discuss the timeline and lore of Nintendo’s flagship franchise. This time around, you may want to duck for cover as Mario takes the Koopa Wars to the next level in...
This is yet another game I had no idea existed. Yoshi’s Safari is a light-gun shooter for the SNES that requires the Super Scope peripheral to play. The game is played on rails from the perspective of Mario riding Yoshi and could be considered to be the only first-person shooter in the entire Mario franchise.
The manual lays out the game’s story below, in which Peach sends Mario and Yoshi to save Jewelry Land, which is under siege by Bowser’s forces.
In the game, we see Mario and Yoshi blast their way through Bowser’s army across Jewelry Land and collect the stolen gems, first in its Light Realm and then in the Dark Realm. Most of this is about what you would expect from the series; grassy plains, ghost mansions, seaside coasts, etc. all filled with enemies encountered in previous games.
Where things really get odd is the bosses. Mostly these consist of the Koopalings but, this time, they are armed with massive mech suits that make them much more difficult to defeat.
This culminates in a fight with Bowser who has set up a castle in Jewelry Land and also sports a technological upgrade.
Of course, our heroes are victorious as always and Jewelry Land is returned to its normal state. Mario and Yoshi return to the Mushroom Kingdom while the Koopa forces go... somewhere else.
Update: Thanks to Tygore in the comments for pointing this out. Upon beating the game, a hard mode is unlocked that canonically continues the story. While Mario and Yoshi head back to the Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser again invades Jewelry Land, leading to an almost identical series of events. This shows the problem with the Mushroom Kingdom’s approach to dealing with Bowser. Mario defeats Bowser but neither kills or jails him and the Princess does nothing to amend the structural issues that allow Bowser to wreak havoc in the first place. This is how Bowser is able to relaunch an attack just hours later and why the Koopa Wars go on for so long.
Jewelry Land is yet another new kingdom introduced to the series. Based on its similar biomes and close alliance with the Mushroom Kingdom, we can guess that it exists in a geographic proximity to the Mushroom Kingdom and Mushroom World. Like those nations, it also exists as an island chain. Interestingly, it features floating islands, which could be related to the magic of the gems that seem to hold the land together.
We don’t learn much about the land’s inhabitants or culture outside of King Fret and Prince Pine, who again seem similar to the rulers of the Mushroom Kingdom and Mushroom World in that they are modeled after medieval monarchs.
The other major piece of world building we get in this game is the very advanced technology that both Mario and the Koopa are using. We’ve seen things like bombs and automatons before, so the tech doesn’t feel totally out of place, but Mario shooting at mechs definitely feels a bit different from the series’s norm. Why we never see this technology in the series before or after this game is very unclear. If I was Mario I would certainly prefer using a gun over my boots when taking on armies.
Clearly the game takes place during the Koopa Wars and must take place after Super Mario World since Mario and Yoshi are already acquainted. I also believe that the game takes place after Yoshi and Yoshi’s Cookie since Yoshi seems to have settled into the Mushroom Kingdom here and, like Mario, seems to work as an emissary for the Princess. The technological advancement we see also implies that Yoshi’s Safari is towards the end of the Koopa Wars. This gives us the timeline below:
In the next part of the series we have another obscure one: 1993's Mario & Wario. Check back soon!
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