Remember when you were little, and adults fell under three categories: vaguely young, vaguely middle age, and vaguely smelling of adult diapers? We tend to apply the same metric to video game characters, whose uncanny valley faces defy proper dating unless their creators give out their age. And even if they tell you, you may not want to know; otherwise, you might find out that gaming's most beloved mustachioed New Yorker is actually a twenty-something, cloth cap, overall-wearing Brooklyn hipster.
In a 2005 interview, Mario Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that he only gave Mr. Mario one background detail -- a (disturbingly) young age. "[A]side from the fact that he's about 24-25 years old, we didn't define anything else," said Miyamoto, not realizing that little detail changes everything we know about the potbellied plumber, who looks old enough that he didn't just grow that mustache ironically for Movember.
The implications of this age shift boggle the mind. Is it his youthful vigor that allows Mario to leap like that, and what made him give up his budding career as an Olympic high jumper to become a 24-year-old plumber? Or maybe those green pipes really wormholes that can alter time, aging him by (clearly) months every time he splooshes through one? And does this mean that 50-year-old Bob Hoskins from the hated Super Mario Bros. movie was supposed to be 24-years-old?
This also affects all the other 'vaguely characterized' Mario characters. Since Princess Peach is also only 20-odd years old, the Brooklyn pizza monster is supposed to be the dashing young hero who makes her swoon. (Peach used to reward Mario by inviting him in for cake, recontextualizing that now you know they're both horny early twenty-somethings). More tragically, this means that Luigi, Mario's twin, has out-out-Cobained Kurt Cobain by dying at the tender age of 24.
And Mario isn't the only video game character who's clearly in the wrong age bracket. Gaze into the age abyss, and you'll find out that Sonic the Hedgehog is 15, which feels both too young and too old to go toe-to-toe with a mad kill-bot-making scientist.
Or that Kirby, according to lore, is an actual baby ...
But it's somehow worse with human characters, whose age can be so mismatched you're not sure it's because of the uncanny valley or some messed-up marketing metrics. Take Marcus Fenix, who looks like a combination of John Travolta and Clint Eastwood from Gran Torino, but is only 36-years-old in the first Gears of War.
Or the young and talented Metroid's Samus Aran, who perpetual youth retconned her to have been only 15 when she joined the military, making her an actual child soldier.
In fact, the only video game character who's obviously the right age is Link from The Legend of Zelda. Just one glance, and you can obviously tell that he's 7/8/10/11/17/19 years old.
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Top Image: Nintendo