Nintendo has responded to animal rights group PETA's attack on Super Mario 3D Land, saying the Italian plumber's animal-based transformations are "lighthearted and whimsical".

Yesterday PETA launched its Mario Kills Tanooki campaign, claiming the Nintendo mascot's famed Tanooki suit power-up sends out a message that it's okay to wear real animal fur.

"When on a mission to rescue the princess, Mario has been known to use any means necessary to defeat his enemy - even wearing the skin of a raccoon dog to give him special powers," reads a post on its website.

"Tanooki may be just a 'suit' in Mario games, but in real life, tanuki are raccoon dogs who are skinned alive for their fur. By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur."

PETA even launched its own Flash-based platformer called Super Tanooki Skin 2D, in which you play as a skinless raccoon trying to chase down Mario and retrieve its hide.

Now Nintendo has had its say.

"Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games," a spokesperson told Eurogamer.

"These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself. These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play.

"The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves."

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Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

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Wesley is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it.

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