Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lackluster Super Mario Costumes for Lackluster Children

I ain't afraid of no six month
long costume hunt!
When I was a kid, we didn't go down to the local Disguise Hut and purchase prefabricated Halloween costumes; we MADE them, gosh darnit. You wanna be a Ghostbuster? Then it's time to hop in the car and spend the next 2000 hours finding a child-sized jumpsuit and making ecto-goggles out of your dad's safety glasses and two plastic cups. You wanna be Guile from Street Fighter II? Then it's time to scour the tri-state area for some kind of hair spray that will make you blond for a day but you can wash it out and it won't stain your clothes, as well as a pair of camouflage pants that look Flash Kick appropriate. You wanna be a cross dresser? I do too sometimes; it's really confusing. Er, for Halloween, of course.

In my experience, it was best to start making your costume in May of the year before you wanted to wear it.

In 1990, the year Super Mario Bros. 3 was released, my brother Ian and I dressed as Mario and Luigi, respectively. While no pictures of this event exist because my parents thought that the whole Nintendo thing was just a phase, or probably they just didn't have a camera, I assure you that it was mind-blowing. The quest for green pants in a child's size negative 12 went on for days: A determined eight-year-old Matt and his slightly less determined mother camped out in the tent section of Playtogs Warehouse and when the store closed we resumed our search in the "slightly irregular" section, braving the dark stillness of after hours. Eventually we found a pair of green jeans that was approximately 16 sizes too small, and though I can never have children of my own now, I was glad to complete my costume. Add a set of cardboard raccoon ears and a tail that we cut and colored ourselves and you've got the most epic Halloween anywhere ever. It was so epic my parents for got the damn camera.

At the store next to where I work occasionally (when they feel like giving me hours), is some kind of Halloween shop that opened a few weeks ago. Inside there's the typical array of cheap, gaudy costumes and life-sized foam dead people you can put on your lawn to frighten the neighbor children, even on Halloween. As I walked around, something on the back wall caught my eye: Super Mario costumes.

It'sa me.. Mario?

I suddenly flashed back to those cold, lonely nights I spent weeding through the urine-soaked bottoms of the bargain bins for anything that resembled green pants or a green hat. I shivered a bit as I thought, "There they are in one package!" albeit kind of cheesy looking.

It'sa me, Luwiggy-o!

It took me a month to find all that stuff when I was a kid! But I'm pretty sure my Luwiggy (as I call him) costume was much cooler, though I'd know for sure if SOMEONE HAD TAKEN A PICTURE. This one kind of reminds me of Luwiggy's Mansion.

I wonder if this kid makes squeaky noises when he gets hit, like in the 1989 Super Mario Bros. cartoon.

For children with no ambition, here's a Toad costume. I prefer to call him "Tod" though as I'm falling down thousands of pits when playing as him. Tod's the worst Super Mario character ever. First he and his people get themselves turned into bricks, then his stats are frelled in Super Mario Bros. 2 to the point where when he jumps, the player thinks his pockets are filled with hundreds of pounds of rotting veggies and dead trouters. Well, at least he can pick things up quickly, so he's got a great future in the cigarette butt retrieval industry.

Robo-Yoshi, here to kill us all.

This one actually looks pretty good and would be difficult to make yourself. But I wouldn't allow a child of mine to get it because it apparently forces the wearer to do the robot dance every second they have it on, as evidenced by the unfortunate child in the picture.

Even though the princess was the best character in Super Mario Bros. 2 because she floats like a butterfly and stings like angry young royalty, much of today's gaming youth don't remember her like that. Ever since she changed her name to Peach for no good reason, she's stopped fighting bad guys and spent her time playing boardgames and tennis. There's a feminist rant in here somewhere, but I think I'll just point out that young girl gamers who are really into the Mario series would be better off dressing as the red man himself and showing the world that women can be strong too, even after having their starring role in Super Mario Bros. 2 reduced to captured princess again just one game later.

As I examined these costumes for way too long and creepily took pictures of them, I thought to myself that they don't look BAD, they just look a little... generic. I imagine that the kids coming to my door wearing these costumes on Halloween will be kind of generic too, you know? (Unless you're Isaac Quintana's thankfully un-color blind son; then you're awesome. Who's Isaac Quintana, you ask? He's not an insider, a journalist, or a programmer, but he is a fine and insightful writer.)

There's a great thrill of finding all the components to a costume yourself. Anyone who's done it knows that Halloween is just more fun if you've dug through the bargain bins and cut and colored your own costume. But I want to let you in on a little secret - The best Mario Bros. costume of all time isn't the one I wore in 1990, nor is it available at a Halloween store or even in the pages of Nintendo Power, this decade or any other. No, it's right here:

My God! The late '80s puked all over that poor child!
My parents didn't have a camera around when Ian and I were the Super Matt Bros., but they did take a photo of me wearing the most embarrassing outfit/best Mario-themed costume of all time: a neon blue Super Mario 3 shirt, lime green biker shorts that clung to my thighs like spandex (because they were), a hat only a painter could love and socks pulled up to approximately nipple height. I'm not sure why Mom and Dad let me go out in public like this. Maybe they were laughing at me behind my back, or maybe they knew that two decades in the future, I'd post this image on my glorious blog for the world to see.

I'm pretty sure it's the laughing at me behind my back thing though. Oh well, at least with an outfit like that, I could join the gangs of Rival Turf!.

So to all those kids out there looking to bum some candy from their begrudgingly obliging neighbors this Halloween, start making your costume now. It'll never be as good as the one with the Godforsaken biker shorts that I came up with, but you'll stand out triumphantly in a sea of store-bought Marios, Luwiggys, Tods and Robo-Yoshis. Have fun, be safe, and OH GOD IN HEAVEN MOM AND DAD LET ME WALK AROUND LIKE THAT IN PUBLIC.

Happy Halloween!


  1. Thanks for the kind words. And the search for a better Mario/Luigi costume is going well, just need the gloves and mustache. And he saw that Yoshi costume you posted and wanted it. I had to shut that request down real quick.

  2. Sorry Isaac; I figured as much, but I hoped that the promise of an original Mario costume would be enough to dissuade him. Oh well; he's a cool kid.