*Please Read Thousand-Year Curse Part 1 before continuing!
Due to Mario’s spotless and spectacular history, several generations of fans have bought millions of games featuring the titular character’s bouncy romps through the Mushroom Kingdom. This has made the Mario series the best selling game franchise of all time.
In Part 1, we looked into the history and biblical identities of Rogueport, the Shadow Queen, and the Four Heroes. At the end of the article, we saw how the Four Heroes are cursed and subsequently transformed into the Black Chest Demons. In this article, we’ll continue the story by following the thread of curses in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
We’ll start where we left off last week…
The Four Heroes have been transformed into the Black Chest Demons, and for those whose experience with the franchise doesn’t extend far past Super Mario Bros. on the NES, their role is quite alarming.
At certain points in the game, players will come to an obstacle that cannot be passed simply by running and jumping.
To gain the abilities required, you must seek out the “Black Chest Demons.”
After finding a chest and the key to unlock it…:
The Biblical implications of this act, both in and out of game, are staggering.
Due to the basic format followed by each encounter with the Black Chest Demons, we’ll discuss them collectively rather than following them in sequence (which would take around 300 images according to my count). However, we will identify the demon speaking by it’s number (Demon #1, Demon #2, etc…).
It all starts with an obstacle:
To progress further and ultimately beat the game, the player must seek out the Black Chest Demons wherever they are-whether it’s a devastated shop in a cursed town:
“And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits [a familiar spirit is a type of devil], and to the wizards.” (Isaiah 19:3)
“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:19-20)
After finding a chest, you then begin communicating with the devil inside.
“And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards [one of the spirits inhabiting the chests is a witch]: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.” (2 Kings 21:6)
“So Saul [former king of Israel] died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; And enquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)
At first, the Black Chest Demons try to flatter you, saying that due to your hearing them, you must be the “legendary hero:”
We later learn this is a lie:
In fact, the demons lie to the player almost constantly, all in the pursuit of being released into the world (which is required of the player to advance):
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)
The Bible also says that it is those WITHOUT God’s help that will fall for the deception:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” (1 Timothy 4:1)
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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 6:11-12)
We find the most egregious (and cunningly deceptive) lie in our third encounter with a Black Chest Demon:
As you can see, the devil promises rewards in return for the player serving it.
Where have we heard that before…:
[Jesus’ temptation in the desert] “Again, the devil taketh him [Jesus] up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
Considering Mario is taking the role of Jesus in this example, isn’t it interesting that some of the Black Chest Demons shake when they meet him?:
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)
In fact, one even shouts:
[While Jesus was healing] “And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.” (Luke 4:41)
[In Jesus’ infancy] “And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,” (Luke 2:26-30)
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
This reference to Jesus’ temptation (to worship Satan for extraordinary rewards) also clearly establishes the player’s actions as acts of worship. Is it any surprise that you are then cursed?:
“Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?
Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them:
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 29:24-28)
By the time Mario meets the fourth and final chest, he’s so tired being lied to he TELLS IT to curse him.
An example of people asking for and bringing a curse upon themselves can be found at the trial of Jesus. When the Jews were asked who they would have released to them:
“The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” (Matthew 27:21-25)
“Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:25)
As for what Mario’s companions think of the devils, reactions range from distrust…:
…to (surprisingly) outright acceptance. The following scene occurs after the fourth demon curses Mario:
“He that saith unto the wicked, Thou are righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.” (Proverbs 24:24-25)
“What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils [below is part of the reason why].” (1 Corinthians 10:19-20)
After retrieving a key for one of the devils:
You give it to them (for which they seem very grateful):
The chest opens and Mario is pulled into the demon’s world.
What happens next varies little from case to case. The player is told the severity of their punishment and insulted for their stupidity in working with the demon
(which 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 warned us about in the first place)…:
And is finally,
The screen flashes and Mario is “zapped” several times:
“The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isaiah 24:4-6)
“Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.” (Daniel 9:11)
The shock of the fact that you have just been CURSED is numbed because the curse acts as a blessing:
Examples of cursed transformations:
“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:10)
“They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah.” (Psalm 62:4)
Who changes the curse into a blessing in the Bible?:
“On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.” (Nehemiah 13:1-2)
After being cursed, the player is ridiculed a bit more…:
“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” (Proverbs 26:2)
I’d like to draw your attention to something for a moment.
We see several instances of the demons telling Mario to literally “SUFFER! SUFFER! SUFFER!”
“But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” (Acts 3:18)
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” (1 Peter 3:18)
This brings us full circle. Let’s review:
You see, there are two messages being communicated in the Black Demon Chest sequences we’ve been covering in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. We’ll call them Lower Level and Higher Level (the obvious and the non-obvious).
The Lower Level message is that the player:
- Seeks the demons. (Isaiah 8:19-20) / (Isaiah 19:3)
- Speaks with the demons. (1 Chronicles 10:13-14) / (2 Kings 21:6)
- Is Deceived by the demons. (1 Timothy 4:1) / (John 8:44)
- Sympathizes with the demons. (1 Corinthians 10:19-20) / (Proverbs 24:24-25)
- Serves the demons. (Matthew 4:8-10) / (Deuteronomy 29:24-28)
- Is Cursed by the demons. (Isaiah 24:4-6) / (Daniel 9:11)
- Is Blessed by the demons. (Psalm 62:4) / (Nehemiah 13:1-2)
- Is told that they Deserve to be cursed. (Proverbs 26:2)
- And finally, Asks to be cursed. (Matthew 27:21-25) / (Deuteronomy 27:25)
Basically, this is a template of devil worship, occurring without any of the MANY consequences both listed and unlisted in this article.
I think we could agree this message is VERY dangerous.
However, just as dangerous (and surprising) is the Higher Level, less obvious message being broadcasted to the player at the exact same time.
We found several comparisons of Mario to Jesus, in everything from:
- How the demon shouts, “Oh sweet, sweet salvation!”
(Luke 4:41) / (Hebrews 9:27-28) / (Luke 2:26-30)
- How demons shake in his presence. (James 2:19)
- His temptation to worship the demons in exchange for extraordinary rewards. (Matthew 4:8-10)
- The emphasis on Mario’s suffering [“SUFFER! SUFFER! SUFFER!“].
(Acts 3:18) / (1 Peter 3:18)
- The fact that Mario is presented as an object of worship other times in the franchise.
Please see the following screenshot:
We find one of the greatest links in something that goes unstated.
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” (Galatians 3:10-13)
All of the problems we’ve described in the Black Chest Demon sequences-from seeking, to worshiping, to sympathizing with the demons-comes under the Old Testament Law [“ as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse“].
Mario willingly takes on the curses of the demons [“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us“] to save the world from the fusion of the Devil and God-the Shadow Queen (analyzed in Thousand-Year Curse Part 1)-that confronts the player at the end of the game.
Some highlights of her character:
- 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)
- Creating and holding the seven stars. (Amos 5:8)/(Revelation 1:14-16)
- Sending out so-called “minions” to take the land. (Joshua 10:42)
- Like Satan, getting sealed away for a thousand years before being released for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3)
- In her last moments covering the land in darkness. (Mark 15:33-34)
So, symbolically, Mario becomes another savior-another Christ-coming to save us from God himself.