*Note: images below come from YouTube and Super Mario Wiki.
Mario is quite possibly the most famous, “innocent” and family-friendly figure in all of gaming, birthing the best selling game franchise of all time.
After the video game crash of 1983, Nintendo almost single-handedly resurrected the industry with the release of the NES and its marquee title, Super Mario Bros. It’s revealing that today, many game developers, journalists, etc. trace their beginnings to that very game.
With such an amazing and relatively spotless history, you would never associate Mario with curses, demons or transgender witches. However, we find all of this and more in Paper Mario and the Thousand-Year Door. _____________________________________________
Below is part of the opening cutscene for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (TTYD):
I’d like to stop and draw your attention to something. As we follow this sequence, it begins to look and sound an awful lot like a familiar biblical event…
First we see the waves rising, storms covering the heavens, the earth roaring and shaking and darkness filling the skies:
“And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” (Genesis 7:10-11)
“And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:23)
“The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,” (Zephaniah 1:14-15)
Now it looks like the world has come to “a violent end:”
“And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:12-13)
In a single night this entire city is sunk into the earth…
[God speaking] “And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.” (Jeremiah 51:63-64)
“If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the Lord hath not sent me. But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.
And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.” (Numbers 16:29-33)
After the Flood, Noah and his sons rebuilt civilization:
“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Genesis 9:1)
So what we’re seeing here, is not only symbolic of the flood, but a direct act of God. In and of itself, this is not that important. However, if you dig a bit deeper, and do a little exploring, you’ll find this story has much more to it than we originally realized…
Climbing the rooftops in Rogueport (the main hub town of TTYD) will lead you to a wise minstrel named Grifty.
Hearing his tales will shed light on one of the most puzzling parts of Paper Mario: TTYD-the four (remember that number, it will come in handy later) “Black Chest Demons.”
These demons are the focus of this article, so let’s begin:
We’ll pause for a moment, and start to pay attention to some of the characteristics of the Demon (later be known as the Shadow Queen) being described.
Grifty said that the demon originally came from “…the dark beyond…”:
“Then said Solomon, The Lord hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.” (2 Chronicles 6:1)
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2)
Of course the Bible speaks about the fear of the Lord:
“Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.” (Psalm 9:19-20)
“Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:8-9)
In regard to the minions mentioned above, though, they can be likened to the people of Israel:
“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” (Joshua 1:1-3)
“And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon. And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel.” (Joshua 10:41-42)
The demon’s dwelling place is filled with treasures from all over the world…:
[Old Testament] “So was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the Lord. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated; even the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of the Lord.” (1 Kings 7:51)
[New Testament] “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Who created and holds the seven stars?:
[Describing Jesus] “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” (Revelation 1:14-16)
[speaking of God] “Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name:” (Amos 5:8)
This statement is interesting, because it causes us to look upon the Demon (and certain passages in the Bible) in a new light.
The stars this verse refers to are fallen angels:
“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon [the Devil], having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” (Revelation 12:3-4)
This is supported by the fact that the seven stars Jesus holds in Revelation also represent angels:
“The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:20)
Accordingly, the stars placed throughout the countries in the Thousand-Year Door are the devilish equivalent:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
The name of this dungeon is The Pit of 100 Trials:
At the bottom of this pit is a dragon:
Isn’t it interesting that in the Bible, Satan is known as a dragon, and is to be thrown into a pit?:
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9)
[God speaking to Lucifer] “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:15)
This-along with the fact that people are sent there to rot-points to her dungeon being symbolic of Hell.
Three frogs came out of the mouth of the Beast, the Devil and the False Prophet respectively:
“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Revelation 16:13-14)
These frogs gather the world to the battle and day of the Lord (described in Isaiah, Revelation, etc.):
“Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.” (Isaiah 13:6-8)
By bringing the nations to the battle and day of the Lord, the three demonic frogs (like the three dragons) go “…across the land, spreading fear and sorrow.”
So, not only do we see that the Flood-like calamity described in the opening cutscene was caused by the Shadow Queen-this DEMON-but she exhibits other god-like qualities as well (such as creating and holding the seven stars). Of course, being a demon, we also see demonic traits such as exercising power over the countries of the world using devilish “principalities,” “powers,” “rulers of darkness,” etc.
All of this combines to form a picture of an extremely powerful hybrid devil-God, one of the only differences being gender (God is the King of Kings and the demon in question becomes the Shadow Queen).
With that foundation, let’s move forward:
So in the section above, we learn about the four heroes:
A strong “Toad”-:
A wise “Goomba”-:
-A brave “Koopa”-:
-and a “Boo” skilled in magic:
These four join together to end the Shadow Queen’s reign. Interestingly, of the four heroes, only one (the Toad) is not a traditional antagonist in the Mario series. This is interesting because each one of their archetypes (Strong, Wise, Brave, Magically Skilled), especially when in opposition to God, is mentioned in the Bible:
“And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?” (2 Chronicles 20:5-6)
[Speaking of God] “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?” (Job 9:4)
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
“Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Isaiah 29:14)
[A judgment of God upon the wickedness of Israel] “Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself: Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself. And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the Lord.” (Amos 2:14-16)
“And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.” (2 Chronicles 33:6)
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18)
“I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked: and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord.” (Zephaniah 1:2-3)
Above we see that the four heroes sealed the demon away for a thousand years using the power 0f the Crystal Stars (angels)-just as God seals Satan for a thousand years in Revelation (isn’t it interesting that the game is named after this event; The Thousand-Year Door?):
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season
[at the end of TTYD the Shadow Queen is released for a short time by possessing Princess Peach’s body, but is ultimately defeated by Mario.].” (Revelation 20:1-3)
“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” (Proverbs 26:2)
“And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.” (Malachi 2:1-2)
This curse not only transforms the Four Heroes into the four Black Chest Demons, but references the Bible in doing so:
[Psalmist prays for judgment upon the Wicked]
“As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: [the Black Chest Demons’ role in Paper Mario: TTYD is to curse Mario and by extension the player] as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.
As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones. Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually [this is referenced in the sequence below]. Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord, and of them that speak evil against my soul.” (Psalm 109:17-20)
What we’ve learned about the Shadow Queen:
The Shadow Queen is a devil, depicted with God-like features. These features include-
- Coming from the “dark beyond.” (2 Chronicles 6:1)
- Causing a disaster reminiscent of the Biblical Flood. (Genesis 7:10-11)
- Having “world-devouring” power. (Zephaniah 1:2-3))
- Creating a Hellish pit as the destination for those who have displeased her. At the bottom of this pit is a dragon. (Revelation 12:9)/(Isaiah 14:15)
- Taking treasures from people around the world. (Matthew 6:19-21) / (1 Kings 7:51)
- Sinking an entire city. (Jeremiah 51:63-64)/(Numbers 16:28-33)
- Sending out so-called “minions” to take the land. (Joshua 10:42)
- Creating and holding the seven stars. (Amos 5:8)/(Revelation 1:14-16)
However, in the midst of this God-like depiction we see evidence of the demonic including-
- Sowing the seven stars (angels) through countries to do her bidding. (Ephesians 6:12)
- Having three dragon pets, corresponding to the three frogs coming from the Beast, False Prophet, and Devil himself. (Revelation 16:13-14)
- Like Satan, the Shadow Queen is sealed for a thousand years before being released for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3)
- She is a DEMON in the first place.
The Shadow Queen is both the ultimate (and ultimately defeated) antagonist of the Thousand-Year Door and the Four Heroes. Speaking of the Four Heroes:
The Four Heroes consist of a Koopa, Boo, Goomba and Toad uniting to destroy the devil-god-fusion Shadow Queen. All but one of the heroes (Toad) are traditionally seen as “evil” in the Mario series as a whole. This is confirmed by various traits putting them in opposition to God and his word biblically:
- The “wise” Goomba formulates a plan to take the seven stars.
- The wise Goomba’s wisdom allows the heroes to defeat the Shadow Queen. (1 Corinthians 1:25)
- The Boo is in the form of a ghost, known in the Bible as a familiar spirit. (Leviticus 20:5-8)/(Leviticus 19:31)
- The Boo practices witchcraft. (Galatians 5:20-21)/(2 Chronicles 33:6)
- The Toad is strong enough to create a gap in the Shadow Queen’s defenses. (2 Chronicles 20:5-6)/(1 Corinthians 1:25)
- The brave Koopa stands against the Shadow Queen. (Amos 2:14-16)
- The heroes seal the Demon for a thousand years by using the seven stars (angels).(Revelation 20:1-3)
- The demon successfully curses the heroes. (Proverbs 26:2)
- Finally, the black chests the heroes are inescapably covered in are seen in the Bible.(Psalm 109:17-20)
So herein we find a strange role reversal-with the heroes opposing God himself (or a figure very much like him) and not only having elements of wickedness in their very natures, but becoming Demons in name as well as form. They then go on to curse the player, which actually grants blessings in the form of special abilities.
We’ll cover that and more next time in Thousand-Year Curse Part 2. _____________________________________________
*Do you want to make sure that you are saved?