Role-playing games featuring Mario have a tendency of using someone other than the old standby Bowser as the main villain. In fact, King Koopa occasionally joins the good guys temporarily in order to fight off an even greater threat, or at the very least follows his own agenda rather than the competing villain’s. This is definitely true of the original Super Mario RPG, in which the main villain is an evil weapons manufacturer named Smithy, who sort of resembles Santa Claus. Among his creations are several of the bosses in the game, identified collectively as the Smithy Gang. Each of these lieutenants bears a resemblance to a kind of weapon.
- In an obvious play on words, Mack, the leader of the pogo-jumping Shysters, is essentially a living knife. Interestingly, despite the fact that the Shysters are essentially Shyguys, they are also manufactured in Smithy’s extra-dimensional factory. I guess he was designing weapons based on living creatures in the world he intended to conquer.
- Bowyer is built like a giant bow, and fires arrows that freeze the poor inhabitants of Rose Town. In the battle against him, he not only uses arrows to attack, but also to disable controller buttons. How does he manage to break the fourth wall like that? I can’t say, but he’s a strange character anyway, constantly reversing his sentences.
- Yaridovich is a shape-shifter, but in his true form he not only looks like a spear, but also carries one. His name is probably the most difficult to figure out, but “yari” is actually Japanese for “spear.” There’s also a bit of Russian flavor added in with the “vich,” which means the whole thing translates more or less to “son of a spear.”
- The Axem Rangers, as I mentioned in this post, are a parody of the Power Rangers. In addition, they all carry axes, hence the “Axem.” The battleship on which they ride is called the Blade.
- Exor is a giant sword, who also serves as the portal between the Mushroom World and Smithy’s factory. He’s instrumental in putting Smithy’s plans in motion, by destroying the Star Road and wedging himself into King Koopa’s Castle.
Punchinello, despite being obsessed with a particular sort of weapon (bombs) is not part of the Smithy gang.
So why did Smithy want to destroy the Star Road? Well, according to the game, it was so no wishes could be granted. It’s really kind of a silly plot, but there you go. According to Super Mario RPG, weapons are more or less the opposite of wishes. The odd thing here is that the Mushroom World already has plenty of weapons, Bullet Bills and Bob-ombs being the most prominent but by no means the only ones. They’re whimsical weapons, sure, but so are Smithy’s mad mechanical marvels. And does Smithy intend to sell his weapons, or just use them for wanton destruction? There are definitely some loose ends there, but I don’t think it was ever intended to be a deep plot. I get the impression that the main theme involved is pitting a whimsical, childlike world against one of darkness and eternal war. Even though the Mushroom and Koopa Kingdoms are basically always at war already. In this case, though, even Bowser is a whimsical and childlike enough villain to take the side of good, even though it won’t last.