Nintendo has been providing entertainment for audiences for decades now, but sometimes what can be even more important than the hardware that you bring to the table are the characters that you introduce to the world of gaming. Mario has not only been an important figurehead of a mascot for Nintendo, but he’s become one of the most recognizable mascots, period.
Nintendo has worked hard to bring many other lovable characters to life alongside Mario or any of their other popular franchises (Star Fox, Kirby, and Metroid, to name just a few). A lot of these Nintendo characters have become popular names, but that doesn’t mean that they’re always the most equipped to handle what lies ahead for them. This is especially a factor since many of Nintendo’s titles do tend to skew to younger audiences.
The Splatoon series is one of Nintendo’s more recent creations, but it’s been an incredibly popular new IP for the company and a home for serious online competition that’s sorely overlooked elsewhere on the Switch. It’s probably safe to say that the series’ Inkling species age a little differently than humans, but many individuals, like Callie, seem like they’re mere children. Sure, for them Splatoon antics are probably just a way to have fun, but that doesn’t change that there are some dangerous players out there.
The Chibi-Robo games aren’t Nintendo’s most well known series, but they still offer up some fun, unique gameplay with a memorable character at the center of it all. The whole premise behind Chibi-Robo involves the tiny mechanical friend to operate throughout a house and find wonder within a normal world. It’s important that Chibi-Robo is therefore tiny and naive, but he’s just such a Chibi-Robo that it sometimes seems like the big world could just swallow him whole.
It’s kind of admirable that Wario had enough of being Mario’s punching bag and just decides to kick back with a mini-game company. The WarioWare titles open up a whole new side of the Wario's cast and while he makes many new friends along the way, some of them are a bit questionable. Ashley is one of the youngest characters to pop up in WarioWare and it seems like she shouldn’t be caught up in Wario’s shenanigans at such an impressionable age.
Not enough people know about Nintendo’s ambitious Captain Rainbow title for the Wii, largely because it wasn’t localized in America. The game posits an “island of misfit toys” angle for Nintendo’s forgotten characters and ties this all together with a silly superhero aesthetic. Nick, the game’s unassuming hero, has an unspecified age, but he certainly looks young. However, he’s already discouraged about his television career, when he’s clearly still youthful. Nick should be grizzled and worn out. Plus, his Captain Rainbow counterpart looks much older, in a Shazam kind of way.
The look of the Paper Mario games isn’t for everyone, but one of the fun things about these games is that they often pair Mario up with individualized versions of common enemies, like koopas, boos, bloopers, or goombas. Goombario, unsurprisingly, is a goomba, but he’s a particularly young one who’s at Mario’s side. The game also introduces both Goompa and Goompapa, so clearly there are some older family members who could've lent Mario a better hand here.
15 The Koopalings
First attempting to terrorize Mario in Super Mario Bros. 3, Larry Koopa, Morton Koopa Jr., Wendy O. Koopa, Iggy Koopa, Roy Koopa, Lemmy Koopa, and Ludwig von Koopa are Bowser’s compatriots that are kindly referred to as the Koopalings. All of these characters are strong, but the whole reason that Bowser needs seven Koopalings at his disposal is because they’re so young and inexperienced. They shouldn’t have had to go into battle when Bowser knew he’d be finishing things off anyway.
Wanda is a rather niche character from the corners of Nintendo’s library and she almost feels more like a helper character for Link than someone that would assist Mario. Wanda is a cherub-like fairy that appears in the puzzle titles, Mario & Wario as well as Wario’s Woods. Wanda doesn’t amount to more than a friendly ally, but with other support on tap it doesn’t seem like this infant should need to be getting involved.
13 Donkey Kong Jr.
Nintendo has done a good job to add an abundance of Kongs to the Donkey Kong world over the years. Before there were characters like Funky Kong or Candy Kong around, Donkey Kong Jr. was in the picture and he’s struck with a rather tragic lot. Donkey Kong Jr. has to help rescue his father, Donkey Kong, but it’s not something that a child should have to do. He even go karts in lieu of his father in Super Mario Kart, which also seems unsafe.
12 Dr. Mario
Nintendo hasn’t exactly been explicit with Mario’s age and it’s most likely because it really doesn’t matter. They’ve oddly filled in certain, specific details of the character, but it’s nice to keep him timeless in this sense. Mario may have a youthful, childlike personality, but most people likely wouldn’t consider him to be a child himself. That being said, even if Mario is a young adult or a little into his life, it seems like Dr. Mario should be somewhat aged up. It takes a long time to become a doctor, so let’s not undervalue the profession with a baby-faced Dr. Mario!
11 Kiddy Kong
The Super Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country develops in an interesting pattern wherein each progressive game involves a different Kong being taken away and a new Kong (or Kongs) joining the adventure to help save them. The first two titles cycle through Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Dixie Kong, but Donkey Kong Country 3 pairs Dixie up with Kiddy Kong, the youngest Kong yet. Dixie herself doesn’t seem that old so saddling her with a literal baby seems like poor support for this sequel.
10 Slippy Toad
The Star Fox titles feature interstellar travel and chaotic dogfights that would obviously require a certain level of expertise and years in flight school and training. Fox McCloud and his team all seem to be of a modest age, but if there’s anyone that’s the youngest in the group, it would have to be Slippy Toad. Slippy is more often than not the weak link in the team and it seems like he’s perpetually in over his head. Giving Slippy a few extra years of age and experience would likely make his life a whole lot easier.
9 Porky Minch
The Earthbound/Mother franchise has definitely been an oddity for Nintendo and even though many of the characters from the Earthbound sequel, Mother 3, appear as playable characters or bosses in the Super Smash Bros. series, the game itself has yet to localized. These titles all make young children the heroes, but Mother 3 makes a ten-year old boy, Porky Minch, the villain. Porky’s able to take over a whole city and drastically change the world, which seems like a stretch for someone who’s not even a teenager yet.
8 Captain Olimar
The Pikmin series has gained a lot of acclaim for its incredibly cute aesthetic. It may technically be a strategy game about survival, but the titular creatures and many of their life-threatening enemies are awfully adorable. The same goes for the series main hero, Captain Olimar. Olimar is old enough to have a wife and a family, but his appearance still makes him look like a rather young individual. With the number of expeditions that Olimar has gone on and the fact that he’s earned the rank of captain should perhaps imply he has a more ancient look.
7 Tom Nook
Much like the world of Pikmin, the charm of the Animal Crossing series comes from its adorable, unassuming aesthetic. This looks like a beyond-friendly world that anyone can be comfortable in. While the Animal Crossing games do their best to keep the atmosphere relatively light, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is prepared for their roles. Tom Nook, for instance, is in charge of running the store and has a lot of responsibility, yet he looks like he should be out having fun and playing games.
The Kid Icarus series disappeared from the limelight for a long time, but it’s had a bit of a resurgence on Nintendo’s more recent consoles. The games take on a playful approach to Greek mythology and operate on a fairly grand scope. In spite of this, the games never hide Pit’s youthfulness and the fact that it’s called KID Icarus, says more than anything. It’s a steep task to go up against such celestial evil forces and it’s not like they’re also children.
5 Little Mac
One of Nintendo’s earlier, yet most maddeningly difficult, titles is the original Punch-Out!! Whether Mike Tyson is taking part in the engagement or not, Little Mac still has to deal with a full plate despite only being 17. The whole point of the game is that Little Mac is the underdog, but he just seems so minuscule when up against the game’s many seasoned fighters. Giving him a little more experience, or at least just calling him “Mac,” would give him a healthy ego boost.
4 Baby Bowser
Nintendo tapped a curious phenomenon when they started to add baby versions of the most iconic characters from the Mario franchise. What started as a curious experiment has grown into a trend where there are even characters like Baby Donkey Kong and Baby Wario in the mix now. Baby characters may be a cute idea in concept, but something like Baby Bowser seems a little farfetched when it gets broken down. It takes a lot to be an evil king and a baby has extremely minimal skills. Bowser Jr. is a more believable take on this concept because he’s at least a kid!
3 Captain Toad
The Toad “species” has always been a bit on an anomaly in the Mario universe. Certain vocal cues made it seem like the franchise’s iconic Toad is on the younger side of things or perhaps his kind don’t age at all. However, through the years there have been more additions to the Toad canon and characters like the elderly Toadsworth show that Toads do age. Toad himself is fine for what he does, but Captain Toad is a different story. It takes some time to become a captain, let alone a seasoned treasure tracker.
Geno is only really featured prominently in Super Mario RPG, but ever since the character fought alongside Mario on the Super Nintendo, gamers have been asking for him to make another appearance, preferably in a Super Smash Bros. title. Geno clearly makes a strong impression as the weird scarecrow-esque doll come to life, but therein lies the problem. Geno is technically a newborn since he’s a doll that’s all of a sudden given life. Immediately, he knows how to spring into action, but a little more time as a living, breathing creature would make more sense.
Super Mario Bros. 2 holds a weird history in the Mario series since the US version of the game is a totally different title than Japan’s version, which would eventually become The Lost Levels. Accordingly, America’s Super Mario Bros. 2 turns out to operate in a weird dreamscape and nothing in it actually exists. This means that Wart, the major antagonist doesn’t really exist, or at least is brand new. Maybe this is why he’s so easy to defeat. Couldn’t Mario dream of an older end boss?
These are all of the characters from Nintendo titles that we think could stand to gain a few years, but who do you think is too young for their own good? Sound off in the comments below!