When somebody inquires about your favorite Super Mario Bros. 2 character, how do you respond? With the lanky, high-jumping/slow moving Luigi? With the in-the-air-floating, pink-and-white dress wearin’ Princess Toadstool? With the run-of-the-mill, absolutely-nothing-at-all-defining-about-this-character Mario? Or is it with the speedster known to those west of the rising sun as “Toad”?
Toad (or Kinopio, for our numerous Japanese and/or Canadian readers) finds his origins in the first Super Mario Bros., where his main task was to piss off Mario by not being Peach. It is unknown which of these creatures Mario rescued from the clutches of King Bowser Koopa was the real Toad, or if they all somehow were, for each time the King was defeated, more and more mushroom-headed lil’ guys made their presence known. It is thought by some that no actual “Toad” exists, rather they are all part of a universal “Toad” that encompasses the entire Mushroom Kingdom. The truth may never be known—but what is known, is that “Toad” had a very minor role in the original Super Mario Bros.
The story was different in Super Mario Bros. 2. A lot different. Now, Mario and Luigi were not enough to save the Kingdom. Peach was an obvious choice to help out the brothers of plumbery, but who else? Surely, the Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom would not be enough. Instead of looking to a rebel Koopa Troopa for help, or the yet-to-be-discovered Yoshi, The Brothers Mario enlisted the services of that little pansy of which Bowser has an affinity for capturing. Toad was clearly created just to make Luigi look good by comparison, but after playing Super Mario Bros. 2 enough times, it became clear that Toad was the superior of all characters, just barely edging out Peach. Luigi and Mario were too damn slow to be of any use, and Peach’s only ability was that of float. Which is not to say floating is not helpful—it is—but, when it’s the only thing you have going for you, you’re not going to be the most useful of characters. Regardless, it turned out that this entire game was one of Mario’s mushroom-induced dreams, and people who played it in hopes of defeating the fearsome King of Vegetables completely wasted their time.
Super Mario Bros. 3 came, and Toad was all but forgotten. Sure, he was put in charge of the Mushroom huts, but that’s only because his head resembled one. If not for that attribute, you might have seen Mouser handing out Frog Suits. Toad also had the vastly important role of being in charge of the “card game”, which meant that he had to stand there whilst Mario or Luigi tried in vain to gain extra lives. It never worked. Toad, bitter about being the recipient of such a minor role, rigged the card game so that our plumbers could never win. Sometimes it even steals lives from you! I swear this has happened! That bastard, Toad. You’ve got to be careful around such conniving fungi.
In 1991, Super Nintendo was released, and the Universal Toad was replaced by the All-Encompassing Yoshi. In much the same way Toad existed, Yoshi was also a plural. His eggs were found all over Super Mario World, and he came in many colors, so it is not conceivable that Yoshi was merely one dinosaur. And yet, all dinosaurs was always referred to as Yoshi. Either he has the power of teleportation and refrains from using it during game play, or there is an abundance of dinosaurs bearing the same name. Either way, it makes just as much sense as there being multiple Toads running about willy-nilly in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Super Nintendo was not a kind system for the Toadster. Sure, he made the obligatory Mario Kart appearance, but that inclusion is nothing special. Koopa Troopa also made that game’s final cut. Toad didn’t have much competition for a slot there. There was also a little known game for the SNES called “Wario’s Woods“, a puzzle game in which it is Toad’s purpose to reclaim the Dark Woods from the grasp of psuedo-plumber Wario. Why he would want the Dark Woods is beyond me. It sounds like quite the foreboding place, and Toad is known to be quite the coward. It just doesn’t seem like the place he oughta be.
Toad wasn’t really seen again until the release of Nintendo 64, where he played Mario’s Little Helper in Mario 64. His tasks were next to nothing in this game. He was only spoken to when absolutely necessary, otherwise he was left alone to stare off into space. He was completely useless in that game. Yoshi saw more game time than him, and he spends the entire game on the castle’s roof. Mario Kart 64, the long-awaited sequel to the Super Nintendo classic, was released and Toad found himself in the driver’s seat once again. He’s lucky this time—Koopa Troopa was cut in favor of Wario, and it’s not likely that Toad would have retained his role if Waluigi had been around in this time period. Toad also made it into a trilogy of board-game based Mario Parties. He again had a non-playing role; Toad was the coordinator of Mario’s Party. He got everybody started, decided who would roll the dice at what turn, handed out stars, and various other things. He was not actually allowed to party.
In the Nintendo realm, Toad is oft thought of as “the mushroom”. He never really seems to do much; he’s lucky to get any game time at all. Even Luigi has at least three of his own games, albeit they all revolve around his rescuing of Mario. But at least Luigi has been an available character in countless others. Toad really gets shafted there. With the exception of Super Mario Bros. 2 and Wario’s Woods, Toad does not really see a whole lot of game play. After being the best character in the former of those, it really seems unjust. It is with this that I encourage you, the reader, to do something about this. E-Mail Nintendo and request a Toad game for the ‘Cube. Start a petition. Write letters. Hold a bake sale, run over some penguins. Just do something. Toad is counting on you.