Blink and you'd have missed it in last week's Nintendo Direct, but we got a brief glimpse at a brand new Mario character. Her name's Peachette, and she has got Nintendo fans very confused indeed.
Peachette will appear for the first time in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, the updated Switch port of the Wii U's by-the-numbers Mario sidescroller. But Peachette is not a new, individual character - you play as her when you choose Toadette and then pick up a new power-up, the Super Crown.
Going by her looks, Peachette is Peach. Sure, she has Toadette's pigtails, is slightly shorter and has a different dress. But she is human. Toadette is a Toad.
So is Peachette a power-up that can transform Toads into humans? Is Peachette a completely new entity that warps in to replace Toadette? Fans aren't sure.
Some fans think the crown is a kind of evolution-powering item which uplifts the lowly mushroom race to human-like form. Fans have actually dug up evidence to support this, in the form of an official 1987 "How to Win at Super Mario Bros." strategy guide, which actually shows Peach depicted as a mushroom before the game's events.
But then why would Toadette end up looking like Peach? Are they related? Has Peach been Toadette all along?
Rarely seen "The Super Mario Brothers Legend" story. As seen in the official strategy guide "How to Win at Super Mario Bros.". pic.twitter.com/ev5QXYOs2T— VideoGameArt&Tidbits (@VGArtAndTidbits) December 30, 2016
It makes for disturbing reading. Of course, reddit has theories.
"Is Peach actually the most evolved form of a Toadette? Are Toads a hivemind controlled by a Queen? Is it the crown?" reddit user Guigondi wondered. "Did Toads evolved and developed a simbiotic relation to that magical crown wich slowly shaped their society the way it is now? When Peach dies, does the next most mature Toadette around puts on her crown and becomes a new Peach?"
And, of course, over on the /r/Waluigi reddit fans reacted in anger that Nintendo had created a new Peach/Toadette hybrid instead of just including Waluigi, who already exists. Sorry, Waluigi fans.
On the face of it, Nintendo has created a whole new character just to justify having someone playable with Peach's usual floaty jump mechanics in NSMBU Deluxe while the real Peach is unavailable - once again kidnapped by Bowser. It is, presumably, a much easier technical change than having Daisy captured instead, or - and stop me if things are getting really crazy here - simply having a plotline where a Princess does not get captured at all.
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