Last year a man won the "father of the year" award in the hearts of many a gamer when he changed all the pronouns in Wind Waker to transform the androgynous-looking Link into a girl so his daughter would have a positive female role model. This year another father has followed suit by reskinning Donkey Kong protagonist Jumpman (aka Mario before he was Mario) into Princess Pauline, while the moustachioed carpenter is now the dude-in-distress.
The man in question is Mike Mika, chief creative officer at Dark Void Zero developer Other Ocean Interactive. Mika detailed his exploits in an article he wrote for Wired. Evidently his three year-old daughter took to games instantly. One day she asked the too-adorable-for -words question: "How can I play as the girl? I want to save Mario!"
"It made sense," Mika wrote. "We had just played Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES a few days before, and she became obsessed with playing as Princess Toadstool. So to go back to Donkey Kong, I can see how natural it seemed to ask the question. I explained to her that Donkey Kong, while similar, is not the same game. On this occasion, I really could tell that she was disappointed."
Unable to simply leave it at that, Mika recruited his colleague Kevin Wilson to make his daughter's dream a reality. "Kids ask parents all the time for things that just aren't possible. But this time, this was different. I'm a game developer by day. I could do this," said Mika.
Unlike Mike Hoye's Wind Waker vocab swap, Mika had to actually redesign Pauline to fit Mario's shorter stature. He also had to reanimate her. Like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, Mika and his partner toiled away in the wee hours of the night, when children are tucked in their beds, snoozing away. Of course, this means Mika doesn't get any credit for it from the person he did it for it. "For all she knew, I just figured out how to get Pauline to work," he said. But this didn't matter. She loved what she perceived as a newly discovered unlockable - little did she know that the man tinkering behind the curtain was her dear old pop.
"She really did seem to enjoy the game more. For whatever reason, she was more motivated to play as Pauline than as Mario," Mika noted.
While the gender-reversed Donkey Kong mod isn't available for public consumption, Mika captured the magic in the video below.