The Trouble with Toad

Welcome back retro ladies and old-school gents, I have finally “wised fwom my gwave” and am here to ‘dis on some of my favorite classic games. Today’s topic of hate is mushrooms or more specifically, mushroom people, aka Toads.

Toads, as anyone who is familiar with the Mario series, are the mushroom-hat wearing midgets of the Mushroom Kingdom. Normally they serve as NPCs throughout the various Mario games (“Your Princess is in another Castle”, etc) but in one game, a single toad Toad, (named Toad because that’s not at all confusing) got a bit of limelight as a playable character. Super Mario Bros 2 had a selection of four playable characters, one of which was the aforementioned Toad.

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For those unfamiliar with Super Mario 2, (or its Japanese counterpart, Doki Doki Panic) there are a total of four playable character, Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad, each with their own unique attributes in regards to speed, jump and strength (for picking up items/enemies). Mario of course is the average, well rounded one, the one you pick if you’re boring; Luigi isn’t as strong or fast as Mario, but can jump the highest; Peach is the slowest/weakest but can “float” for a short time, thus ideal if you’re a noob; and then there’s Toad. Toad is a complete oddball, he is the strongest (for some reason) and the fastest (look out Sonic) but can barely jump over a Goomba or Shy Guy.

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This begs the question, who in their right mind would pick Toad as a character? Sure you can run and pick up vegetables faster than anyone else, whoop-dee-funkin’-doo, but this is a platformer, jumping is kind of a crucial element here. Granted, in the Super Mario Advance remake of Super Mario 2, Toad had the added benefit of being able to pick up the newly added “giant” items/enemies with little trouble and little reduction in running speed. But that still doesn’t help his pitiful jumping ability.

So why have him? I mean I realize they had to fill the roster from Doki Doki Panic with Nintendo characters but why did Doki Doki Panic have low-jumping character in the first place? If you’re creating a platformer, making a character with a lousy jump seems incredibly counter-intuitive. That’d be like making a racing game with cars that can only go 25mph, it’s just pointless.

What do you think? Did you ever play as Toad in Super Mario 2? Why on earth for?

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