In the vast universe of Super Mario Bros., there is a level in Wonder that sheds light on the harrowing existence of the average Goomba. These iconic mushroom-shaped adversaries have long been the target of Mario's squashing antics, but the Wonder Flower in Super Mario Bros. Wonder reveals the true terror of their lives.
Enter "Maw-Maw Mouthful," a Petal Isles level that becomes available halfway through Super Mario Bros. Wonder. In a small alcove, a Wonder Flower awaits, ready to transform Mario, or any playable character, into a Goomba—the very enemy they've spent countless hours stomping on. While Goombas have always been part of the Koopa Troop, Wonder suggests they may have had valid reasons for rebelling against the Mushroom Kingdom.
Throughout the Mario franchise, Goombas have posed little threat to Mario and his friends. However, "Maw-Maw Mouthful" in Wonder and "Way of the Goomba" in the Special World reveal that Goombas aren't formidable opponents in any of the franchise's kingdoms. They have one advantage—they can walk on spikes unharmed. Apart from that, they are slow, have minimal jumping ability, and lack arms. In fact, Goombas will even walk off ledges if given the chance. It seems that Goombas live under constant threat of death, as plumbers from Brooklyn aren't their natural or only predators.
Becoming a Goomba in "Maw-Maw Mouthful" requires Mario to hide behind trees to escape the charging Maw-Maws, with their gaping mouths hungry for prey. Goombas have virtually no defenses—headbutting is unlikely to have any effect on Mario's other adversaries. It's wishful thinking to hope that Mario would empathize with their plight and spare them in the future. Mario's unwavering dedication to Princess Peach and the Mushroom Kingdom leaves no room for mercy. It's no wonder that the Goombas, driven by desperation, turned to Bowser and the Koopa Troop for protection.
While the Mario franchise is known for its whimsical nature, it rarely delves into the politics of the Mushroom Kingdom and its neighboring realms. The original Super Mario Bros. game manual hints that the Goombas, then known as Little Goombas, "betrayed the Mushroom Kingdom" and allied themselves with the Koopa Troop. This suggests that the mushroom-shaped foes were once citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom, as supported by the presence of non-hostile Goombas still residing there in other games, like Goombario from Paper Mario.
The existence of friendly Goombas reveals that the species is not entirely united in its animosity towards the Mushroom Kingdom. However, their overwhelming majority joining Bowser's ranks suggests that there were valid reasons for turning against Princess Peach and the Toads. While the Toads live in relative harmony, Mario frequently comes to their rescue, implying that they, too, are rather defenseless mushrooms. This raises questions about why many Goombas felt the need to rebel, while the Toads remain in positions of power, including Peach's attendants and confidants.
Even though some Goombas may find a modicum of protection in the Koopa Troop, those outside the Mushroom Kingdom live lives that are "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." If the Toads were compelled to rebel, they would likely face similar hardships. The reasons behind the Goomba rebellion have never been fully revealed, but the treacherous existence experienced in Super Mario Bros. Wonder, coupled with the prosperity enjoyed by the Toads in the Mushroom Kingdom, suggests that Goombas have been striving for a better life and unjustly persecuted for their efforts.
So, as you venture through the whimsical world of Super Mario Bros. Wonder, take a moment to reflect on the Goomba's plight. Behind their seemingly simple appearance lies a complex tale of struggle and rebellion. Perhaps, just perhaps, the Goombas have been misunderstood all along.
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