What's Mine is Mine; or, What's Yours is Mine, too:
In the last exciting installment of Hotel Mario: Revisited, the Warios waited for Iggy and Junior at an abandoned race track. After much ado, the two parties reached a Mushroom/Wiimote swapping agreement as history waited outside.
the Marios were off on the next leg of their journey. Where might it take
"Where'd she go?" asked Mario, reprising the inquiry.
Without thinking for very long about it, Luigi gestured toward something behind him with his thumb. There was a cave oddly nearby with the epigraph “Larry's Cave: This Mine is Mine” chiseled over the entrance.
Luigi had no evidence to corroborate that the princess had somehow wound up in this strange, pink cave. Yet, he pointed to it with an air of confidence which, given the aforesaid piquancy, was the cause of quite a ”hang-up” in the mind of his brother. Mario gazed uneasily at Luigi. Though he was merely standing in place, in his characteristic way, something seemed off - something was more disturbing than it should have been. How did Luigi know?
After a moment of this, Mario came out of his stupor. Of course she's in the cave! Isn't it obvious?
And so, without any further hokey-pokey, the Brothers stumbled toward their next destination. Given their strange manner of going about business, one might be forgiven for mistaking a Mario sighting for a run-in with Dora the Explorer; although, to be sure, any sensible parent would be appalled to encounter this dumpy, over-the-hill spinster in syndication. Soon, everywhere, children would be senselessly bumbling about, coloring their mustaches to clash with their hair and buying expensive artificial hand implants at younger and younger ages.
A perhaps less obvious (but nonetheless unsettling) peculiarity of the Stalinesque plumber was the way he rapidly shifted weight. In the blink of an eye, he might appear to be forty or fifty pounds heftier than he did only a moment before; then, in the space of a double-take, he would revert to his normal size, as though one were breaking bread (and the fourth wall) with a mirage.
How the children would have imitated this, well, one can only “think-about-and-shudder”.
With a twirl and a heel-click, they soon arrived at the abandoned mine. Mario peered into its dark recesses.
"It's kinda dark," he said, pausing.
"D'ya bring a light?" asked Luigi in due time.
"No..." replied Mario, turning his head.
"Well maybe a Koopa will lend us his - if we... persuade him..."
In bad humor, The Marios took a few steps forward and stood in place.
Meanwhile, along a rolling, green hillside, there was a velvet knoll that was murmuring with a muffled strain of commotion. Behind its cover, the Warios (disguised as the Marios) were struggling rather ineptly with the bonds of an unlikely victim, Toadsworth, whom it had been their honor to struggle rather ineptly to recover. Once he had at last wriggled free of his fibery constraints, Toadsworth yanked the handkerchief from around his mouth and adjusted his bifocals, as his rescuers looked on with dumb expressions. He leered at them acidly.
"Nitwits," he grumbled. "Took ya long enough. What's wrong with you? Why didn't ya untie me back at the arena?!"
The Warios stood quietly, snapping to attention. After composing himself, the old Mushroom inspected his surroundings. "What the... why are we out here?"
Despite the Warios' well-deserved reputation as “scumbags” “cubed”, they were nevertheless men of their word (particularly when it came to deals involving golden fruit), and had taken special precaution to avoid being seen by anyone at the castle. Thus, they had decided to release the old chamberlain at some remote point, and, indeed, it was quite hard for him to tell where he was in relation to the castle.
The Warios exchanged uncertain looks. "You know us Marios," said Wario with a shrug.
Toadsworth dusted off his vest. "Yeah, yeah... I know you Marios, all right," he muttered, giving his companions a nasty look. He sighed. "Ugh... All right. Let's go."
Toadsworth fumbled with his cane and started to hobble toward the castle. After he had gone some way, he realized to his astonishment that no one was following him, and in confusion looked around - the Marios had completely vanished.
Lost and taken aback, Toadsworth began to look about frantically, and stumbled over a rock. "Marios!" he howled, pounding his cane into the ground.
Wario was ambling down the road with his brother, and looked up as the cry reached his ears. "Huh. Hear that?" he asked.
"Were we supposed to bring him all the way back? I mean... the danger is over..."
"It's... he's fine," sputtered Wario. "You know what? I'm... I'm done with rescue etiquette."
Waluigi nodded, then snapped his fingers in recollection. "Hey, shouldn't we go get our banana?"
Wario nodded. "Next time we see the Mushroom. I'm sure he'll be around... I thought he said he had business or something later. Don't want to upset the ladies," he said in a mocking tone. "Besides, we gotta meet with that McCloud fella. He tells me he's got some huge lead..."
"Oh, yeah, yeah." Waluigi thought for a moment. "Hehe. That, uh... thing, where that guy got angry at the Marios..."
"...instead of us..."
"Yeah," chuckled Waluigi. "How 'bout that?"
After an unhappy voyage through the dank vestibule of their “suspect mine”, the Marios arrived at a vast, sprawling chasm. No visitor could deny that the price for Larry's hotel was right; as a hotel, however, it had many features that may have come off as being “uninviting” to the tourist, for example, its angular passageways and dangerous heights. Perhaps its smell was a bit rancid for a guest whose nose hadn't been cauterized, and, moreover, there wasn't a single Starbucks within walking distance.
Like those of his siblings, Larry's hotel appeared much larger on the inside. Whatever resource the mine had previously been harnessed for had been, apparently, completely excavated; in fact, most of the railways of its aging mine-cart system were actually suspended in midair. Yet, there was something alluring about the track...
Mario placed his hands on his hips. "Well, there's only one thing to do..." There had been a barrel on the periphery that was mysteriously spinning in place and, evidently, contained a restless prisoner. Without hesitation, Mario seized it and tossed it over the edge of the cliff; after its shatter sent a splintery echo through the canyon, Diddy Kong shot out of the gorge in an impressive backwards somersault, landing beside his plumbery companions.
"Let's go!" shouted Mario.
Mario and the team leaped into another barrel that was over by the ledge, this one a bit larger with a white insignia painted on its side. Before you could follow we gotta find the princess with a respectable pause, they were fired over the abyss, landing face first in an old mine-cart. The momentum of their fall propelled the cart forward over the decayed rail system, slowly at first; as it picked up in speed, the ambient noises of the mine were drowned in the rattle of the cart and the thrash of putrid air resistance.
"Look out!" shouted Luigi, pointing in the wrong direction. Up ahead, there was a fissure in the track.
"Hold on, everybody!" shouted Mario, bracing himself, or pausing - whatever.
Quick on his feet, Diddy hopped forward and took the helm. In what could only have been described as some sort of “Donkey Kong magic”, he managed to get the whole cart to leap into the air. The old track wobbled unsteadily as the cart made impact on the return.
"Woah..." gasped Luigi, pulling himself up.
"Hoho!" chirped Diddy.
There were many such breaks in the track, and, with each impossible bound, the Marios became more and more confident in Diddy's abilities as a navigator.
"Looks like this track needs to get a - monkey off its back," Mario quips to you.
As he was pausing, a large, hovering letter K began to close in from the distance. Its golden sheen was quite tempting Luigi, who had become, perhaps, a bit too emboldened by the heroic acts of his new monkey friend.
"I got it!" shouted Luigi. Despite the precarious wavering of the old cart, he attempted to stand up in order to reach his coveted prize.
"Be careful, Luigi!" shouted Mario, pausing.
"So... close..." wheezed Luigi, reaching up toward the letter.
Suddenly, another mine-cart came crashing into the Marios from the opposite direction. Its passenger, a belligerent Kremling, went soaring over the heads of our heroes along with the cart he was riding in. His leathery, green head cracked violently against a nearby ledge, sending him falling unconscious into the void.
The thud and clatter of the collision sent Mario reeling against the back of the cart, disrupting its balance, while Luigi was flung over the side. He gripped the back of the cart for his life, shouting for assistance as the cart began to wobble out of control.
"Help..." he paused. "Help..."
Mario stood up and pulled his brother in, just barely averting disaster. Meanwhile, the master Diddy had restored the mine-cart to a steady course. Before long another Kremling assailant came barreling down the track on a collision course with our heroes.
"Jump!" shouted Mario.
With the help of their good friend, Diddy, the Marios lifted the mine-cart into the air, avoiding the crazed crocodile. The unfortunate reptile fell through a break in the track, hollering as he took the final plunge.
"Hoho!" chirped Diddy.
Then, it became quiet. The Marios looked about - nothing. All they heard was the whisper of the air whizzing by their ears.
"Phew..." said Luigi. "Are we all right?"
"We're fine... except for that!" shouted Mario, pointing at something up ahead. There were several barrels of dynamite blocking the track.
The Marios held each other. "Hold on..."
Back at the Garret, Sultans of Swing was blaring through the windows, trumpeting the arrival of Toad's moment. This was it! Shortly, he would be leaving to meet his date at Mushroom Square. Although difficulties had presented themselves, he had weaved through them without flaw, and, for once in his life, had come out “one-up”, so to speak.
"Check out... Guitar George, he knows... all the chords..." he sang along in falsetto. "But he's strictly rhythm, he doesn't want to make it... cry or sing..."
A torrent of fantasies whirled through his mind as he pranced about before his mirror; he pictured to himself how he would impress and woo his date; he reveled in the thought that this evening would be a testament, a wink from God, to his patience and long-unappreciated skills as a problem solver.
This is gonna be my night, he thought, as there was a break in the chorus.
Then, without warning, Toad was intruded upon as his chamber door gently swung open, revealing a grass-stained Toadsworth locked in a sour grimace. He scanned the Royal Retainer with a cold stare. Toad innocently gazed back, caught mid-shift during an air guitar solo in his underwear.
The chamberlain made a sharp gesture at the spectacle he beheld. "This... THIS?! This is what you've been doing?!" Toadsworth blurted.
Toad walked over to his stereo and turned the volume down. "What? What are you talking about?"
"Why'dya send the Marios after me?! I told ya I didn't want them involved! What, just so you can dance around?!"
" They got ya back!" rebutted Toad, forgetting that he was wearing nothing but a pair of Darkwing Duck briefs. "So they didn't show you to the door? So what?"
"Show me to the door?! They just dropped me off in the middle of nowhere! Left me to the buzzards!"
"Buzzards? What are ya? A baby sea turtle? Just walk back..."
"Oh, no, no..."
"So ya know the kingdom but ya can't find the castle? There's only one buzzard around here..."
"It'd just be nice to get a little courtesy for once..." grumbled the chamberlain. "Seems to be in short supply, though..."
"They rescued you! That's the courtesy!" said Toad. Then, he looked down and smiled to himself. Not even Toadsworth could disturb his good spirits, and with a grin he walked over to the old Mushroom and put his arm over his shoulder. "You burn me up, you know dat?"
"Wha... what are you so happy about?" Toadsworth asked, puzzled.
"Who, me?" replied Toad facetiously. "Well, tonight, I have... a date."
"... Date?" Toadsworth mumbled.
"We're goin' to this new casino," explained Toad, releasing his grip. "Hey, by the way, you know dat stuff you see on television? Where the guy is attacked by a horde of women... the... TAG, or AXE, or whatever it is? Yeah, I got like a gallon of dat stuff. This can't fail."
"Casino..." mused Toadsworth. "Oh, yeah... that Koopa Casino opens today, doesn't it?"
Toad stopped. "Koopa Casino?" he said, raising an eyebrow.
"Yes," continued Toadsworth. "You see, young man, while you were running around with the ladies, I have taken measures to improve the affairs of this kingdom - I was doing my job, that is," he added, snidely.
Toad said nothing, but continued to listen with the same expression on his face.
"Tourism has gone down the toilet," the old man proclaimed with a sweeping gesture. "No one wants to come to a bitter, war-torn region for a vacation. And it's been devastating the economy."
Toad folded his arms.
"So, a few weeks ago," Toadsworth went on, "I bumped into Bowser Koopa at a poetry reading, and he was in a rut of his own. So, I made this deal with him, I said, Bowser, if ya open this casino it'll solve your money problem. The castle funds the project initially, then we split the profits. That way, we not only recover some of our economic loses, but we can begin to patch up the political sores between the races living here. Everybody wins."
Toad was silent for a few more seconds as he glared at the chamberlain. "That's terrible!"
"I... I can't go to a... a Koopa casino!" he stuttered in consternation.
"What? What's the problem?!" asked Toadsworth with a dubious look.
"Mel thinks I'm a Koopa sympathizer. Do you know what'll happen if we actually bump into a Koopa?"
Toadsworth gazed to his right with a disgruntled face.
"Do you realize all the crazy stuff I've had to do to them over the years because of you, and the princess, and your ridiculous assignments? I've... I've..." The Mushroom began to pace back and forth. "I've broken into their home, countless times, uh... I've killed their pets on several occasions, oh, here's one! I foiled a Koopa plot by telling Wendy she had terminal cancer, you know, the whole... bald thing?"
"Yeah, yeah," Toadsworth nodded.
"Then there was that time I crop-dusted their castle with hiccup powder. Ah, geez... I remember when I pledged all those hours to the Big Help and never followed through – they know about that," he said, pointing at Toadsworth. "Let's see... I sabotaged their production of A Christmas Carol, I've posted fake blogs under their name, I..." Toad began to laugh to himself. "I actually had to steal their Thanksgiving dinner once. And, I'm not sure, but I may have been the cause of Bowser's wife divorcing him."
Toadsworth thought for a moment. "Oh, hmm... well, you can't go there."
"No really!" exclaimed Toad. "And she probably wants to go there 'cause it's some kinda step forward for friendly relations between Koopas and Mushroomers. Ah, man..." Toad shook his his head. "How come you didn't tell me about this?!"
"Oh, who's the codger now, Mr. Smarty-Pants?" gloated Toadsworth. "I told ya I know what goes on in this kingdom! Why don't ya go back to your mattress store and tell 'em the news!"
Toadsworth guffawed and made his way out of the room.
Lost in thought, Toad sat on his bed and bit his lip. He watched his feet dangle over the mattress. He needed to think of something, and quickly.
A smoking mine-cart tinkered into a narrow, cinnabar tunnel. Its passengers, the Marios, had been plastered against the back of their vessel, while that maverick-of-a-monkey Diddy seemed to be enjoying himself at the helm.
Mario sat up. "Ow, my aching shnoz!"
"Where are we?" asked Luigi, poking his head over the side of the cart.
The Marios had entered a long passageway that was illuminated intermittently by lightbulbs dangling from the ceiling. Each flare of light provided them with quick glimpses of the tunnel: shattered mine-carts, dynamite, and dead mailmen were everywhere. A series of florescent red bells gave the space a kind of charm.
"Hoho!" chirped Diddy. He hopped into the air and smacked one of these red bells with his right hand, raising an approaching portcullis. The entire tunnel seemed to be comprised of a series of these traps.
Apropos, the Kremlings, as a brood, are far more practical than their Koopa counterparts, and often provide themselves with a plausible means to get around their own traps. Of course, this renders them little more than redundant annoyances to trespassers, which is a perfectly acceptable arrangement to Donkey Kong.
"Ah... well, the princess has gotta be around here somewhere... Tell me if you see her!" Mario says to you.
The Marios passed through a few more of these same gates, and just as they had had enough, two other railways appeared, running parallel to the one they were on.
"Uh oh," said Luigi, pausing.
Just then, off in the distance, they heard the approach of other mine-carts. Two soon approached on each side, each carrying rather meaty looking kremlings, each wielding a large, wooden club.
"Hey, do you guys have a light?" Luigi asked, pausing.
"Yeah. We need a light to-"
Before Mario could continue, one of the Kremlings gave him a good whack in the back of the head.
"Hey! That hurt!" he shouted.
Then, in a moment, both Kremlings started to flail their weapons wildly at the plumbers. The Marios took cover in the mine-cart.
"What are we gonna do with these Kremlings assaulting us?" asked Luigi, smiling.
"Maybe there's a club in one of the-"
In a ridiculous stroke of luck, the two Kremlings collided with rather large piles of dynamite that had been lain on the tracks. Really, the Kremlings were quite careless with their dynamite.
In any case, the gurgling screams of the Kremling grunts were lost under the fiery detonation of several boxes of explosives. There were Kremling parts everywhere.
"Wait, no, that took care of it."
Before long, the Marios came out of the tunnel and over another gaping chasm where, yet again, they could hear the charge of rattling mine-carts.
"Duck!" shouted Mario.
"Maybe they'll be blown to shreds again!" cheerfully exclaimed Luigi.
The Kremlings rode up to the cart and stood for a moment.
"Hoho!" chirped Diddy.
With a shrug, one of the kremlings took his club and clobbered the little monkey, sending him plummeting into the black abyss. His whimpering cry rang through the air.
"Diddy!" shouted Luigi, looking over the cart.
"Let him go, Luigi," consoled Mario. "Come on! Let's teach these guys a lesson, Brooklyn style!" They paused, for Diddy.
Mario produced a thick chain from his trousers, as Luigi fitted his brass knuckles. The Kremlings gave each other an odd look.
An old microwave chimed as its timer reached zero.
"'Bout time," declaimed Ludwig in his laconic way. He ambled over from a rickety, circular table he had been sitting at in the corner of the kitchen. The room was adequately lit by a large window, which was completely veiled by yellowed drapery.
Oddly enough, betwixt a myriad of dead-ends and death traps, Ludwig's abandoned fortress featured what might be termed a single bedroom apartment. Of course, these kinds of curious amenities abounded when the Koopa family was at work.
The frilly Koopaling removed the TV dinner and found a fork mingled with a plethora of allsorts in an old drawer. As he examined the utensil, he heard someone rapping at the front door. He shrugged and began to eat as he moved to greet his unexpected visitor.
Ludwig opened the door and smiled. "Hey Larry. Thought you would be... at your hotel or something, I don't know..." he said with a snide chuckle.
"Yeah, well..." Larry began, scratching the back of his head, "I got kind of distracted when we were on the... doomship, I don't know..." he shrugged. "I got kinda lost on the way to my hotel..."
Ludwig cackled. "Hulk Hogan's rap album?"
"Yes!" beamed Larry, holding it up.
"Why did you want to show it to us?" asked Ludwig with his mouth full. "Why, what was that going to do?"
"It's so bad though!"
"I know..." Ludwig joked, clenching his fists. "Hey, does this look like it was used to color Easter eggs or something?"
He handed Larry the fork, which he had already been using.
"Did we... color Easter eggs with... forks, here, at some point?" asked Larry, with a grin.
Ludwig shrugged. "You never freakin' know, dude."
"What are you eating? Is that Kid Cuisine?" inquired Larry as he came through the doorway.
"Forget Kid Cuisine, man." replied Ludwig,. "You can have icy corn and flaming hot brownies if you want. It's banquet." Ludwig shut the door, and the two made their way upstairs.
"Hey, I'm kinda hungry. Can I have one?" asked Larry.
"I don't know..." teased Ludwig. "First you come to my hotel instead of yours, then you want to eat my food?"
"I'll just have one of the sirloin ones, no big deal."
"Those are the best ones!" chuckled Ludwig. "No dice. No... dice."
"Well what can I have?" asked Larry.
Ludwig thought for a moment. "Oh!" He led his brother over to one of the cabinets in the kitchen, and pulled out a large box. "Waffle Crisp!"
"You said you were hungry, dude..."
"Yeah, but... come on, this is like... rock bottom."
"I'll tell ya what's rock bottom... your pathetic life..." said Ludwig, shaking his head.
"Oh, okay..." nodded Larry. "Well, at least I don't look like Buster Bunny."
Ludwig chortled. "Quality comeback."
"Maybe that's why you don't have any friends," continued Larry.
"Oh, that's right-"
"You look like a freakin' pantless cartoon bunny with ADD."
"I don't even wear clothes!" laughed Ludwig. "You see, I don't screw up butt-simple tasks drooling over some rap album by a professional wrestler. That's pretty pathetic, right there."
"Uh-huh..." nodded Larry.
There was a brief pause.
"You know who loves Waffle Crisp?" asked Ludwig.
"Oh, what a psycho!"
"Yeah," giggled the Kooky Koopaling. "Remember when he took us to Sea World?"
"Oh yeah! I don't think you were there. Well..."
Ludwig took another bite of his Banquet meal. "Okay, so... one day, Dr. Robotnik takes us to Sea World. So, he really wants to impress us, and we're having an okay time. We get to the mascot, you know... where you take a picture with Shamu?"
"So, we're about to get our picture taken in front of this guy in a giant whale costume, when Wendy asks if she can borrow Robotnik's mustache comb. As like a joke."
"His face becomes locked in this dour expression, and he just walks up to her and flips out. Like she embarrassed him in front of Shamu, or something."
"What did he say?"
Ludwig chuckled to himself. "I swear I saw tears welling in his eyes. He was like, No one thinks you're funny. You're just a disgrace to your family. He starts calling her names, making fun of how she looks-"
"What did he call her?"
Ludwig shrugged. "Just things like “steel-headed stupidnik”, “unlubricated nincompoop”, etc."
"What'd she say?"
"She was just standing there, weeping, in front of everybody. It was hilarious. Needless to say, it was a very awkward whale show after that."
"Hey, uh... as long as you're here, wanna play Uno?"
"I guess so..." said Larry, gazing to his left. "It gets kinda competitive though..."
"What?" scoffed Ludwig. "It's Uno."
"Whatever, it's fine."
Ludwig began to search through some of the drawers in the kitchen.
"So can I have a Banquet or not?"
The Marios were barreling through the perilous three-star hotel at break-neck speed. What was once a gaping chasm had become a spiraling void. With their navigator fallen, Mario had courageously taken the helm, holding onto his cap to prevent it from flying off into the unknown.
"I smell the stink of death," said Mario, who smiles at you.
Suddenly, four other railways came curling in from the distance. Then, out of nowhere, the mine went Duck Tales on the Marios as a terrifying apparition materialized before them. It was the skull of an enormous alligator, displaying its jagged teeth in a maniacal grin. Its eyes were glowing green with malice, and to make matters worse, two boney hands rose from the pit to assist in the dismantling of the invaders.
"Wha... what's that?" asked Luigi with a quivering voice.
"Looks like Koopa's pullin' out all the stops," said Mario, who is looking at you.
The menacing gator's chuckle crescendoed into a full maniacal laugh. It raised its hands into the air and fired something behind the speeding plumbers. Soon, Luigi saw four skull missiles headed straight their way, divided among the different tracks.
"Here they come!" he shouted, pointing in the wrong direction.
Mario carefully jumped the cart from rail to rail, just barely avoiding falling to his untimely death. After the missiles had passed them, the gator clenched his fists in rage and opened his mouth, releasing a ghastly vapor upon the unfortunate Brothers. A swarm of lost souls moaned and soared past the Marios, their empty, foreboding gazes possibly filling them with terror.
"Uh... really want that light," said Luigi, passing through a flock of specters.
In one final flash, the gator fired a barrage of skull missiles into the air, which soon reversed course and were quickly approaching the Marios from behind. It seemed as though there was no way to escape, when suddenly, Marios saw a small light off in the distance.
"Look!" he pointed. "We're gonna need to jump!"
"Oh..." whimpered Luigi.
"I think we might... need a hand with this one!" Mario said, as he looks at you.
Luigi cowered in place.
Mario is still looking at you.
Luigi is still cowering.
Mario blinked, and is still looking at you.
As the missiles honed in on their poorly animated targets, Mario threw his weight against the side of the cart, causing it to roll off the track as the missiles blazed overhead. Mario took his brother by the hand and grabbed onto the ledge. As they dangled over a pool of nothingness, they watched their cart disappear into the distance.
"Hang on, Luigi!"
With great effort, Mario pulled himself up onto the ledge, and with a final tug rolled his brother to safety.
"Woah..." said Luigi sitting up. "That was kinda scary."
Mario looked at Luigi.
"Where do we go now?" asked Luigi.
Mario smiles confidently at you. Three small boxes appear below him, in sequence, from left to right. Each one outlines a square picture.
"We made it through the lonely gate..." Mario began. As he spoke, the first picture, a little yellow gate, became animated and made a quiet, moaning sound. "...across the abandoned mine..." The next picture became animated as well, making the sound of several explosions. "So now we need to find the..."
"Filthy orange pipe!" Luigi exclaimed.
"Do you see a filthy orange pipe?" Mario asks you. There was one very clearly protruding from the ceiling, situated almost right next to the Marios. A blue mouse cursor appeared from nowhere, and directed the Marios to their destination.
"Great!" said Mario. He stood up and walked over to the pipe. As he gazed into, it began to suck like a vacuum.
Mario was sucked up into the pipe, where he was tossed about in the graceless fashion that a warp pipe tosses one about. Eventually, he landed on the other side, at an unknown destination.
"Where am I?" he said, sitting up. Mario “megapaused” for a moment.
This guy was good.