Intelligently generate text with Markov Text Generator

Give this small program some text, and it can analyze what letters or words tend to appear together, then generate new text that’s statistically similar. You can configure it to look at pieces as small as individual letters, or at large pieces like whole groups of words. Under the hood, it counts how often particular letters or words appear after each unique piece, then uses those probabilities to build a new chain of pieces. I was informed that these are called Markov probability chains; thus, Markov Text Generator.

I originally wrote it since I wanted a program that could look at a few words in a language I was starting to make up and then create some more words that were similar, helping me get a better sense of the shape and sound of the language. But I soon discovered that I could use the same algorithm to generate all kinds of interesting text.

Unfortunately, this software only runs on Windows and has no nice user interface – it’s just a command line tool.

If you’d like to try it out, though, here’s how. First off, you can download Markov Text Generator here by clicking to download (You can also look at the source code there on GitHub.) Save the zip file somewhere, unzip it, and then open a command prompt and navigate to that folder. If you can figure out how to do that, you should be able to use MTG without much trouble.

Okay, so here we are in the folder where MTG is. Now you need to create some input text for MTG to analyze. How about first we try giving it a bunch of Alethi names from Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, and see if it can generate some similarly Alethi-sounding names? I’m going to open up Notepad and put this text in a new file:

Kaladin Shallan Adolin Dalinar Kholin Renarin Gavilar Torol Sadeas Meridas Amaram Lirin Hesina Navani Jasnah Elhokar Laral Ialai Lin Balat Wikim Helaran Merin Aesudan Aladar Roion Coreb Avarak Matal Hashal Bashin Bethab Hatham Havar Jakamav Teleb Shulin Wistiow Tien Lamaril Natam Rillir Roshone Sebarial Ruthar Salinor Teshav Thanadal Vamah Yenev

I’ll save that file as “Alethi.txt” in the same folder that MTG is in, and then head back to my command prompt.

Now let’s try running MTG on this file with some basic configuration. In the command prompt, I’ll run MarkovTextGenerator.exe -i Alethi.txt -o 15. This means its input text is in “Alethi.txt”, and it should output 15 new words. Let’s see what we get…

Hmm, we’ve got some pretty odd words there. They look vaguely Alethi, but some of them are way off. How can we fix that? Well, right now by default, MTG is looking just at what comes after individual letters. It doesn’t see each letter in context. But if we told it to look at groups of letters instead, it can be more smart about what letters appear in what contexts…

So now let’s try running MarkovTextGenerator.exe -i Alethi.txt -o 15 -g 2. This tells MTG to use a “group size” of 2. Instead of seeing what tends to come after each unique letter, it will see what tends to come after each unique group of 2 letters.

We’ve still got some weird names in there, but we’re closer to actually sounding Alethi. Maybe try a group size of 3 with MarkovTextGenerator.exe -i Alethi.txt -o 15 -g 3?

Now we’re getting names so similar to the original ones that it’s not quite as useful anymore. See, group size is a sliding scale. At one end, with small group sizes, you get output that’s very different from the original text. As group size increases, the output becomes more and more similar to the original text.

So far we’ve just been using MTG to generate words. But how well can it do generating whole phrases and sentences? This time, I’m going to try giving it the entire text of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, snagged from Project Gutenberg. I took out the Project Gutenberg intro and licensing stuff at the beginning and end, then saved the text of the book as “Great_Expectations.txt”. So now let’s try running it through MTG, starting out with a large group size so that it will consider whole words and their usage instead of just letters. Something like MarkovTextGenerator.exe -i Great_Expectations.txt -o 30 -g 5.

Your result might be something like this. Pretty nonsensical, though it does mostly produce real English words. With larger group sizes, you might improve the output a bit…but there’s also another option. So far, MTG has been splitting up the text for analysis based on letters. But we can also tell it split up the text by words instead using the -w flag, like by running MarkovTextGenerator.exe -i Great_Expectations.txt -o 30 -w

This will probably take a while – it’s a pretty long book, after all – but once you’re finished you should get something along this line. Looking a bit better! But to improve it even more, we can set group size here, too. Instead of grouping letters like it did before, this will group words, so MTG will see what words tend to appear after each unique group of, say, 2 words. So let’s try running MarkovTextGenerator.exe -i Great_Expectations.txt -o 30 -w -g 2.

Nice! MTG is never going to generate text perfectly, since it’s totally unaware of rules of grammar and such. But the more input you give it to learn from, and the more you tweak the group size, the better output you should be able to produce. You can at least get some pretty entertaining nonsense.

If you enjoyed MTG, comment here or contact me and let me know!

How to follow a Twitter account without using Twitter

WARNING: This post is more than 6 years old. I’ve left it up in case it’s useful to you, but there are no guarantees that it’s accurate anymore (or that I still think it’s comedic).

Say you’ve found a Twitter user whose posts you’d like to read. You don’t want to post anything yourself, you don’t want to know what other people are posting, you don’t care about trending topics or popular users or hashtags or whatever – you just want to follow that one user’s Twitter posts without any fuss.

This is surprisingly difficult.

I recently thought that I’d enjoy keeping up with Brandon Sanderson‘s posts on Twitter using my new Android smartphone – maybe I could just get a quick notification and a link to his tweet on my phone whenever he posts something. I looked into using an RSS feed to do this, but nope, Twitter doesn’t do RSS. So I gave in and decided to try using a proper Twitter app on my phone. And there are lots of nice Twitter clients to choose from on Android…but, well, that’s exactly the problem. There are too many to choose from, and they have too many distracting features I don’t care about, like tools for posting tweets yourself…while they don’t have features I do care about, like options that would let me see Brandon Sanderson’s replies to other users along with his normal tweets.

But there is a better way! And what’s more, with this method you can do more than just get notifications on an Android – you could also get notifications on an iPad or iPhone, or email notifications, or an SMS, or a phone call where a robot reads out the tweet…Though you may want to avoid that last one if you share a phone number with anybody.

Where we’re going today

IFTTT (“If This, Then That”) is a website that lets you automatically trigger a certain action when a certain thing happens. That sounds very vague, but that’s because IFTTT is so versatile. The trigger action can be anything from “My Android phone connected to my home wifi network” to “I posted something new on my blog” to “It’s 5:00 pm on Sunday” to “Somebody mentioned me on Reddit”. The resulting action can be anything from “Send me an email” to “Post a new photo on my Facebook account” to “Turn off my lights” (if you have the right kind of lights) to “Upload something to my Dropbox account”.

With IFTTT, you create a “recipe” that has one “trigger” and one “action”. I’m going to use IFTTT to create a recipe with a trigger of Brandon Sanderson tweeting something and an action of a notification being sent to me. I’ll show you how to get Android notifications as well as two different types of email notifications.

Setting up a Twitter trigger

Okay, let’s get going! First you’ll need to go to the IFTTT website and sign up for an account. Click the blue button. I know it’s hard to find, but I think you can do it.


Fill in the information and click “Create account”.


Go through the introduction…




IFTTT asks you to choose three “Channels” you’re interested in using so it can recommend some recipes to you. It doesn’t matter what you choose, though.


Now let’s start actually creating our recipe for getting notified of tweets. In the top right-hand corner, click on the little arrow next to your username, then click on “Create”.


First we’re going to set up the trigger action – in my case, Brandon Sanderson tweeting. Click on “This”.


There are a lot of options for triggers! But for now we’re just looking for the Twitter one. Find or search for it and then click on it. (You’ll probably see an icon for Twitter there, unlike me with my strange Internet connection.)


Now we’re going to have to activate the Twitter channel, which is a bit of a pain…but you won’t have to do it again if you make another IFTTT recipe using Twitter!


To do this you’ll need a Twitter account. If you already have one, you can just sign in, but I’m going to quickly sign up for one here. I’ll use this account to activate IFTTT’s Twitter channel and never use it again.


Fill in the information and click Sign Up. Like I said, I’m only making this account so I can use IFTTT with Twitter, so I’m not even bothering to give Twitter an email that I actually check – I’m using a disposable email address from Mailinator.


Now click “Authorize app” and IFTTT will be able to create a Twitter trigger.


Twitter will send you back to IFTTT; click “Done” and then go back to the browser window where you were working directly with IFTTT. Now you’re be able to click “Continue to the next step.”


Now it’s time to actually choose what will trigger a notification! So, we should choose the “New tweet by a specific user” trigger, right…?


Actually, that depends. If you choose this trigger, you’ll get all the tweets that the person you choose sends out to everyone….but if they direct a message to a specific user, on the other hand, you won’t get it. So if Brandon Sanderson tweets “The 5th Alcatraz book is coming out today!”, I’d get it, but if he tweeted “@MarcTauss What exactly is that wooden thing on the cover of the 4th book?”, I wouldn’t be notified. Now I, for one, love to eavesdrop on Brandon Sanderson’s exchanges with fans, so I want to make sure to get all the tweets he sends to specific people. And so I’m going to choose another trigger – the “New tweet from search” one.


Now I’ll search for everything coming from Brandon Sanderson. In Twitter search lingo, this is “from:BrandSanderson include:retweets”. If you’re trying to follow another user besides Brandon Sanderson (though why I can’t fathom), put their username in instead of “BrandSanderson”. So for instance, “from:FiatLingua include:retweets”. This is how you can get all the messages coming from somebody, not just the ones they send out generally.


You’ve successfully set up a trigger! Now let’s see how you can get a notification sent to you when your trigger fires.

Setting up a notification action

Start by clicking on “that”.


Well, there are sure a lot of choices here, too! I’m only going to demonstrate how to set up Android notifications and email notifications, but clearly there are plenty of other options available for you to try.

For now, though, let’s see how you could set up…

Simple email notifications

Find the cleverly named “Email” channel and click on it…


Then click “Send me an email”.


Now you can tell IFTTT what the subject line and text of each notification email should be. See those weird gray boxes? When you actually get an email, they’ll be replaced by information from the actual tweet. So if Brandon Sanderson sent out a tweet saying “The 5th Alcatraz book will be released tomorrow!”, I’d get an email with the subject “@BrandSanderson: The 5th Alcatraz book will be released tomorrow!”, and once I opened up the email I would see “via”.


If you click on one of the grey boxes, they’ll change to text surrounded by double curly braces, and then you can move them around as you like.


Once you’re editing some text, you’ll also see a little test tube icon in the upper right corner. If you click on that, you can add more magical grey boxes that will replaced with different things when you actually get the email. I’m going to add a link to the actual tweet in the body of the email. So I’m going to click on the test tube icon, select “LinkToTweet”, and then click “Add Ingredient”.


Additionally, I would like to have the text of the tweet put in the body of the email, so I’m going to move that {{Text}} thing. I’ll also make a few other changes. As you see, you can add text wherever you like; just don’t change what’s in between curly braces or the grey boxes won’t magically get replaced by information from tweets anymore.

When you’re finished, click “Create Action”.


Now you just need to give your recipe a title, click “Create Recipe”, and you’ll be all set!


And there you go! Next time the user you chose tweets, you’ll get an email like this:


Email digest notifications

Instead of sending you an email every time somebody tweets, IFTTT can instead just send you an email every day or every week with all the tweets that have been sent out in the interim – an email digest. Let’s see how that would work out. First off, once you’re at the “that” part of making an IFTTT recipe, find and click on the “Email Digest” channel.


Now decide whether you’d like to get an email every day or every week. I’ll be trying a weekly digest, but it’s basically the same process to set up a daily one.


Here you can tell IFTTT when you want to get your digest and what should be in it. As I explained in the instructions for normal email notifications, you can move around the curly-braced grey boxes or delete them as you’d like, and you can add in other grey boxes by clicking on the test tube. Besides that, you can add or delete whatever other text you want.


When you’re done, click “Create Action”…


…name your recipe, click “Create Recipe”…


…and you’re done! Now at the time you set, you should get an email from IFTTT with tweets like this:


Android notifications

Now let’s try something a little more tricky: an IFTTT recipe that sends a notification to my Android phone when Brandon Sanderson tweets. So, once you get to the “that” part of a recipe, find and click on the “Android Notifications” channel…


Click “Send a notification”…


Now you can decide what the notification will actually say, using those same magical grey boxes I showed you before.


I’m going to switch around a few things and then click “Create Action”.


Name your recipe and click “Create Recipe” as always.


But wait a minute. How will IFTTT know what phone to send the notifications to? It won’t…until you install the IFTTT app on your Android device! Let’s see how you can set that up. First, head over to Google Play and search for “IFTTT”.


Now choose “IF by IFTTT” and install it.


Click “Accept”. It does want access to a lot of stuff, but that’s because you can use it to do a lot of stuff.


Once it’s finished installing, open it up…


…flip through IFTTT’s little intro…


…and you’ll get to a login screen. You’ve already made an IFTTT account, so click on the “Sign In” link at the bottom.


Fill the username and password you chose and click “Login”…


…and there you go! Now when Brandon Sanderson tweets I’ll hear my message tone, and then when I look at my phone I’ll see a notification:


Which I can then click on:


Which I can then click on again:


And then I can click the “Open in Browser” button to open up the tweet in my browser, which will show me any replies to the tweet as well as any other tweets it was replying to.


And there you go, that’s how I’m now following Brandon Sanderson’s tweets without having to bother with the rest of Twitter. If you try this yourself, let me know how it goes!

Super Paper Mario game script in Kindle format!

If you’ve been perusing this website for a while, you have probably been wondering how I’ve managed to come up with so many brilliant analyses of Super Paper Mario while also juggling my multitudinous other talents. Okay, fine, maybe you haven’t been wondering. But here’s how: I’ve had a copy of the Super Paper Mario game script written by Super Slash at my side the whole time. And now you can get your own copy! For free! In all-new…KINDLE format!


Silliness aside, I have found the game script to be very handy as I come up with theories and analyses and generally get as much fun out of SPM as I can. I only had a problem with it when I got the brilliant idea to put it on my Kindle, to make the script even easier to access and carry around with me (in case I’m really, really, really bored on the airplane). Super Slash’s plaintext version works well on a computer, but it doesn’t look very nice on a Kindle. So I got out my favorite LibreOffice plugin for find-and-replace, ran a lot of regular expressions on the plaintext version, fixed a lot of formatting problems caused by said regular expressions, slaughtered the occasional wild typo, and finished off with a linked Table of Contents since I figured it would be useful to learn how to make one. I think the result looks pretty nice.

SPM script

You can download my Super Paper Mario script for Kindle here. If you’re interested in getting the script in a different e-book format, you’d probably be best converting it yourself using something like Calibre – I don’t use any other e-book readers and so I won’t have an eye for what looks good on them. If you would like, you can use my original .ODT of the SPM script as the source of conversion instead of the Kindle file.

How to record your computer’s sound output (on Windows) with Audacity, Virtual Audio Cable and SoundLeech

WARNING: This post is more than 7 years old. I’ve left it up in case it’s useful to you, but there are no guarantees that it’s accurate anymore (or that I still think it’s comedic).

Update on 12 August 2014: In the comments, Riverlandsmj alerted me to another, simpler way to record your computer’s sound output while still playing it through normal speakers. I added this method below and generally revamped the article. Thanks!

This is a tricky question I’ve bumped up against multiple times. What if I want to record my computer’s sound output? I can use the microphone to record what’s coming out of the speakers…but there’s naturally going to be a large loss of quality, since the sound has to go through both my bad speakers and my bad microphone. It would be much better to to have software on my computer directly record what’s coming out of my computer. If you do a little searching, you’ll find lots of people saying, “Oh, just use Audacity and select ‘Stereo Mix’ or something of the sort as the microphone!” Sorry…but not all computers support that – including mine! You will probably also find various programs that promise to record sound output…but that you have to, like, pay for. Which perhaps is fine if you intend to be recording sound output a lot, but not for me, who only needs to once in a while. But despair not! There is a free solution. In fact, there are THREE!

I’m going to show you the three methods I’ve come across, in order of how good I think they are. First, you can use Audacity, which is fairly simple, works in all situations, and lets you still output your computer’s sound through your normal speakers/headphones/whatever it is. Secondly, you can use VB-Audio Virtual Cable (catchy name, I know), which also works dependably, but is more complicated to use and can’t keep playing your sound normally unless you install extra programs. Finally, there’s SoundLeech, which is very simple to use and lets you still output your sound normally, but doesn’t work in all situations.


This lovely open-source sound recording and editing program runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 and 8, and is also available for other platforms, though the protocol for recording sound output is probably different on different operating systems. A feature was recently added that lets you choose a sound output device as an input device – so for instance, you can choose your speakers as your microphone. Let’s see how this works.

First of all, let’s download Audacity:

Audacity Free Audio Editor and Recorder - Google Chrome_2014-08-12_17-25-57

Once you’ve downloaded the file, run the installer:


Tell Windows that you really do want to run the installer:

Open File - Security Warning_2014-08-12_17-32-34

You may need to tell Windows again that you really, honestly, do want to run the installer, but eventually you should get to the language selection dialog.

Select Setup Language_2014-08-12_17-39-54

Now just follow the dialogs to install Audacity. When you’re done, open it up if you haven’t already.


Now look at the upper left corner, at the bar right underneath the controls for stopping, pausing, etc. Do you see that first drop-down box, the one that says “MME” right now?


Click on it and choose “Windows WASAPI”.


Now move over to the third drop-down box, the one with a little microphone next to it. Choose the sound output device that you want to record sound from – probably your speakers.


Start recording by clicking on the big, round red button. Don’t worry if nothing much happens at first.


Now start playing whatever you want to record through the sound output device you picked (again, probably your speakers), check back, and there you go! Audacity is recording your sound output even as you’re hearing it.


If you want to change the volume of what you’re recording, you’ll need to change the volume in the program playing the sound; changing the volume of your speakers or whatever other output device you chose won’t make a difference, in my experience.


You can also always use Audacity’s “Amplify” effect once you’re done recording to change the volume.


Both Riverlandsmj and I experienced some problems with the sound dropping out occasionally while recording this way, particularly at the beginning of recording, which seems to be because Audacity has a different default sampling rate than our sound cards. To fix this, Riverlandsmj suggests changing the sampling rate on your speakers to the same level as Audacity’s, like this. Go to the system tray in the bottom right corner of your screen, and find the volume control. Right-click on it and choose “Playback devices”.


Select the speaker in question, and then choose “Properties” below.


Now go to the “Advanced” tab…

Speakers Properties_2014-08-12_18-02-47

…and in the first drop-down box, pick “24 bit, 44100 Hz (Studio Quality)”.

Speakers Properties_2014-08-12_18-04-40

Click “OK” below, and hopefully this will fix the problem!

Speakers Properties_2014-08-12_18-04-49


If it doesn’t, you can try opening up Audacity, then going to Edit > Preferences > Quality and seeing what the “Default Sample Rate” is. Then you can change your speakers’ rate to be the same, as I demonstrated above.

Preferences Quality_2014-08-15_10-52-18

VB-Audio Virtual Cable

Okay, on to VB-Cable! As I mentioned earlier, this program works consistently, but it’s trickier to use and you can’t output sound through a speaker while you’re recording from it. VB-Cable is supposed to work on Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. It basically works by pretending to Windows that it’s some speakers and also pretending that it’s a microphone. Then, if you tell Windows to output to VB-Cable’s “speakers,” VB-Cable will send whatever goes into those speakers to the VB-Cable “microphone.” So if you use a recording program – Audacity or whatever else – and select the VB-Cable “microphone” to record, you’ll get whatever is being sent to the VB-Cable “speakers.” I’ll demonstrate below by trying to record Windows Media Player playing an MIDI file using Audacity.

First we’ll need to download VB-Cable from its beautiful website:

VB-Audio Virtual Cable - Google Chrome_2014-01-09_07-16-19

You’ll get a .zip file. Extract it somewhere, look inside, and you’ll see…a lot of stuff. Never mind all that. Look at readme.txt if you want to. Then, if you have a 32-bit version of Windows, right-click on VBCABLE_Setup.exe and choose “Run as administrator;” or, if you have a 64-bit version, right-click VBCABLE_Setup_x64.exe and choose “Run as administrator.”


If you’re not sure what sort of operating system you have, open up the Start Menu and go to “Control Panel,” then “System,” and look at “System type” under “System.”

All Control Panel Items_2014-01-09_07-18-50


(I know, I don’t have a very impressive computer.)

Windows will make sure you really want to run this program – click “Yes.” Now click “Install Driver” to actually start installing VB-Cable. It may say it’s not responding for a while, but that’s fine.

VB-Audio Virtual Cable Driver Installation (Version

Windows will make sure you want to install VB-Cable’s drivers – these are its fake speakers and microphone. Click “Yes,” and there you go! You might want to restart after finishing, as the program tells you to, but I got away with not rebooting, at any rate.

VBCABLE Installation_2014-01-09_07-22-12

Now let’s see what VB-Cable can really do! First, right-click on the volume control in the system try and choose “Playback Devices.”


Click on the sound device called “CABLE Input” (that’s VB-Cable’s fake speakers) and click “Set Default” below.


Now all sound the computer outputs will be sent to VB-Cable, which VB-Cable will then promptly send to its fake microphone, which you can see if you click on the “Recording” tab.


So, let’s open Audacity and choose “CABLE Output” as the microphone…


Start recording…


Now I can open up my MIDI file in Windows Media Player and let it play, and when I check in Audacity – ah yes, it’s recording the sound produced by Windows Media Player!


To finish off, I can stop recording in Audacity, save the file, etc., then right-click on the volume control and pick “Playback devices” again, and set my normal speakers as default again.


This reveals one problem with VB-Cable – you can’t record sound output with VB-Cable and listen to it at the same time, since Windows is sending the sound to VB-Cable instead of actual speakers. If you want to listen while recording sound output, you could, again, try the Audacity or SoundLeech methods.


So there’s also SoundLeech, the simplest program, which runs on Windows XP, Vista and 7 (not sure about Windows 8). Here’s the basic idea: When it’s running and you tell it to “start leeching,” it tries to detect any programs playing sound, and then records what they’re playing to a .wav file. The problem is that it doesn’t always detect programs playing sound – it only seems to support some programs. So if you’d rather not mess with Audacity or VB-Cable, you could try SoundLeech, but it’s a bit less flexible and doesn’t work 100% of the time. I think SoundLeech is pretty straightforward, and the developer also has some info on how to use it on his website, so I won’t demonstrate it here.


And there you have it! I am very happy that I finally found some good solutions for this problem. Hopefully they will be useful to you too!

Mysteries, Plot Holes and Unanswered Questions in Super Paper Mario

This is part of a planned series of posts analyzing, discussing and generally having fun with Super Paper Mario, my favorite Wii game. If you find it ridiculous that I am spending so much time analyzing a very cheesy Mario game, you should probably ignore this.


Super Paper Mario may be a wonderful game, but even the best of stories have their plot holes. And so I’m sorry to say that the story of Super Paper Mario, which isn’t even the best in the first place, has rather has a lot. The best of stories also often have many unanswered questions, and Super Paper Mario, not being the best, has even more. But Super Paper Mario is good enough that I wanted to catalog all those plot holes and unanswered questions…mostly for my own use as I came up with insane theories filling the holes and answering the questions, but who knows, maybe you could find some use for this list too!

  • Did Tippi fall in love with Mario? At the end of chapter 3, after the heroes save her, Tippi is very happy and is “full of concern,” thanking Mario for rescuing her. Then after chapter 4, Tippi says that she “could just hang around with Mario forever,” only to suddenly pass out. (Supernatural punishment for showing interest in someone other than Blumiere?) After she’s revived, she says, “I want to be near Mario…” And then we have chapter 7, where Luvbi teases Tippi mercilessly about being interested in Mario, and Tippi can only stammer and blush. (Though how a butterfly can blush is rather beyond me.) But after this it seems that she begins to remember her past and realize who Count Bleck is, so any feelings she had for Mario are set aside…or are they? Does she just decide to disregard any love she has for anybody else so she and Blumiere can save the world with the Power of Love™…?
  • What exactly is the chronology of the whole story? Blumiere is supposed to have been part of the Tribe of Darkness, yet Nolrem, who is only a descendant of the Tribe, seems very old. Does that mean Count Bleck is even older? In that case, is Tippi quite old too? Perhaps she’ll die of age as soon as she gets transformed back into human form?
  • Why did Count Bleck tell his minions to stay put before chapter 6? I quote Nastasia in the Castle Bleck scene after chapter 5: “YOU GO NOWHERE! We wait! It’s the count’s direct order! His word is absolute! Be a good little minion and DO NOT MOVE UNTIL TOLD!” (But then Dimentio shows up and convinces them to go and try to defeat Mario and co. anyways.) Why did Count Bleck order this? Was he afraid his minions would get destroyed if they went to Sammer’s Kingdom, since it was on the verge of being obliterated by the Void? Was he beginning to give up? (Particularly after the previous Castle Bleck scene, in which Nastasia said that she wasn’t sure they could succeed, and spoke of Timpani.) Or did he just want his minions to rest and regain their strength?
  • Exactly who counts as a hero? Sometimes it seems like Mario is the central hero and the other members of his party are subordinate, but at other points it seems like they’re all heroes of the same rank.
  • Why does Bleck do nothing to investigate the possibility of Timpani being alive after meeting Tippi in chapter 6 and beginning to wonder about her identity? Had he lost hope of finding her? Had he lost hope of stopping the prophecy? Both seem quite likely; he says in the Castle Bleck scene after chapter 6, “Could that Pixl have been…Timpani? No, no. Completely impossible. I should know that better than anyone. Besides, it’s far too late to do anything now.” And then after chapter 7, he says, “The prophecy can no longer be stopped by Count Bleck. No one can stop it.” But did he also give up hope of Timpani caring about him anymore after his conversation with her in chapter 6 (when she graced him with such lovely lines as “Why would you want to do something so…unspeakable?”, “That’s…horrible!”, “You’re wrong…and sick!”, etc.), and after he heard Dimentio report that Tippi had said, “I must stop Blumiere”? (By the way, that’s not actually what Tippi said. She said, “We have to stop that Blumiere.” But then, Dimentio is not known for his reliability.)
  • Why, in the ending, does Bleck say (multiple times!) that he does not “have long to live”? Was he weakened enough by his fight with Mario that he would die soon? Perhaps he was being sustained by the power of the Chaos Heart or maybe the Dark Prognosticus, and so once he lost them he couldn’t stay alive for very long? Maybe this is because he’s very old as I hypothesized above?
  • What happened to the Dark Prognosticus, anyways? The narrator says at the very end that “the Dark Prognosticus again faded into history.” But what happened to it?! The best answer I can come up with is the Awesome Nastasia Theory.
  • Did Blumiere kill his father or destroy the Tribe of Darkness or something along that line of things? The only clues we have are that 1) the Tribe of Darkness disappeared at some point and 2) in the Blumiere and Timpani scene (for lack of a better name) before chapter 8, Blumiere says to his father after stealing the Dark Prognosticus, “I will erase every inch…of this blasted world!”, and then at the end of the scene we hear crashing and smashing sounds. But seriously, are sound effects canon? What if I had had my sound off? What if I had trouble hearing it? And what if, like I did when I first played the game, you thought that the crashing and smashing sounds were part of Tippi’s memory that she apparently recalled right after the Blumiere and Timpani scene, where she says, “No! Blumiere! You mustn’t! Darling… How could you… Oh… Darling… You… Why…”?
  • How did Nastasia know that Bleck and Tippi would be in Dimension D in the ending, as she apparently said to O’Chunks and Mimi that she “felt” they’d be there? And how did she know to shield Count Bleck from Dimentio’s blow? Did she realize Dimentio’s scheme? Does she just have a fictional character’s near-perfect intuition? Or is the Awesome Nastasia Theory correct…?
  • Who is the “sweet lass” that O’Chunks wished he had declared his love to in chapter 5? Nastasia? Presumably, from what he said at the end of the game and if you talk to him in Flipside after the game is finished…
  • Did Dimentio write the Dark Prognosticus? This seems to be quite a popular theory among fans, despite the fact that the only evidence I can find for it is in Carson’s story about Dimentio. He says that Dimentio pursued Count Bleck of his own accord, but Bleck initially turned him away. Then the count read about someone like Dimentio in the Dark Prognosticus, and so he agreed to let Dimentio join him. Carson comments, “Why was he mentioned in the Dark Prognosticus? Sounds fishy to me!” So, obviously, Dimentio wrote the Dark Prognosticus so he could orchestrate his whole plan with having the heroes defeat Count Bleck and then destroying the world himself! Except why then did the Dark Prognosticus include prophecies of other events, as the prologue and quite a few of Garson and Carson’s stories indicate? How did Dimentio know so much about those other events, and about the power of the Chaos Heart and the Void, etc., for that matter? And then to have written the Dark Prog he would either need to be really old or be capable of time travel…
  • Why on earth didn’t Mario respond or even look surprised when Tippi and Bleck had their dramatic conversation right before the fight with Bleck? Shouldn’t he be alarmed if the antagonist and his faithful sidekick start calling each other “dear Timpani” and “my Blumiere”? Is Mario just stupid? But then how come the other heroes (who were out of commission during that first conversation) weren’t surprised when Tippi and Bleck had another dramatic conversation after Bleck was defeated? Are they all just stupid? Or are they all just used to this kind of thing happening, since they live in stories? Or what?

There you have it. Let me know in the comments if you’ve come up with other explanations for these mysteries and plot holes, or if you’ve found some of your own!

The awesome Nastasia theory: a crazy but nevertheless rather workable theory about Super Paper Mario

This is part of a planned series of posts analyzing, discussing and generally having fun with Super Paper Mario, my favorite Wii game. If you find it ridiculous that I am spending a great deal of thinking time trying to fill up plot holes in a very cheesy Mario game, you should probably ignore this.


Do you remember how way back, at the very beginning of Super Paper Mario, in the prologue – you know, the bit that will play if you don’t press 2 when you start the game up – that bit of music at the beginning of it will haunt me forever – anyhow, in the prologue, the narrator says of the Dark Prognosticus: “No person, after obtaining this amazing book, ever found happiness.” Yet, at the very end of the game, it is strongly implied that Count Bleck and Tippi are living in happiness, despite the fact that Count Bleck certainly had obtained the Dark Prognosticus at one point. So what should one conclude? Are all those characters at the end of SPM who insist on Bleck and Tippi’s happiness just deceiving themselves? Or perhaps they sincerely think Bleck and Tippi are happy, but we enlightened players are supposed to know that this can’t possibly be the case because of the Dark Prognosticus? Or is there some way we can still honestly think Bleck and Tippi are happy?

Well, you could say that Bleck broke the curse that had previously afflicted all people who obtained the Dark Prognosticus; after all, one of the themes of Super Paper Mario is that prophecies, curses and the like aren’t final and unchangeable. Or you could take a really cheap way out and say that Bleck wasn’t a person, exactly, he was a member of the Tribe of Darkness and not human. So even if no person could ever find happiness after having obtained the Dark Prognosticus, he could since he wasn’t a person. Or you could explain it another way. A way that fills up several other plot holes, too. And a way that gives a very important role to poor unfortunate Nastasia, who I think is probably my favorite character from SPM for no particularly good reason. I call this explanation the “awesome Nastasia theory,” because I personally think it’s awesome, but I leave it up to you to decide if it really and truly is.

So. Let’s begin with an assumption. This assumption is worth it, because if we just make this small adjustment to our interpretation of that prologue, we can satisfactorily explain a lot of holes that the more obvious interpretation leaves open. The assumption is: when the narrator in the prologue says that “no person, after obtaining this amazing book, ever found happiness,” they mean that no person ever found happiness while they actually had the Dark Prognosticus. One’s first interpretation would probably be that if you had ever obtained the Dark Prognosticus at any point in your life, you could never be happy, whether or not you still had it. My new little slightly-modified interpretation says that if you actually currently own the Dark Prognosticus, you can never be happy. Now, stay with me. This will work out.

Let’s now go far ahead, all the way to the beginning of the ending of SPM, the bit in Castle Bleck where you finally enter a room and meet Count Bleck and Nastasia. Now, have you ever noticed that Count Bleck doesn’t have the Dark Prognosticus with him in this scene? The other times you see him in Castle Bleck, he does have the Prognosticus. Yet at this point he doesn’t. So presumably, knowing that the heroes were coming – remember Nastasia’s warnings that “that hero’s gonna collect the Pure Hearts and come here. He’ll come for you”? – he put the Prognosticus in a safe place where it wouldn’t get in the way. He may have also wanted to get it out of the way of the coming battle because he had some protective instinct for it, but that’s not important; the point is that he put it safely away. Then, right before he begins fighting you, he sends Nastasia away, despite her initial hesitation. But where does Nastasia go? Perhaps to the same safe room where the Prognosticus is…?

Now imagine this. Nastasia is standing there alone, knowing that Count Bleck will probably fail, yet also desperately hoping that he won’t succeed and destroy the world; terribly worried for him, unsure of which prophecy to trust, not wanting either of them to come true, and completely unable to do anything. And there is the Dark Prognosticus sitting right there – the Dark Prognosticus that has all the answers. And then suddenly she remembers that no person can ever be happy while they own the Dark Prognosticus, and so as things stand, Bleck, her dear, unfortunate, tragic Count Bleck, can never find happiness. But if she takes possession of it and reads it, the curse would be lifted off him and put on her instead…Put on her, who could never be happy anyways while his heart belongs to Timpani…

What do you think she would do? Take it and read it. And then inside she would discover that Dimentio would betray Bleck and send him to Dimension D, but if Bleck and his other minions were together again, they might be able to restore the Pure Hearts, and if that happened, Tippi and Bleck would be happy together, albeit separate from everyone else. Now, you may ask, how is it that Nastasia could read something in the Dark Prognosticus that Bleck apparently never saw? I appeal to Carson’s story about Dimentio. Carson says that Count Bleck turned Dimentio away “until he read in the Dark Prognosticus about the role of someone similar.” Yet – assuming Dimentio joined Bleck relatively recently (a hypothesis supported by the story of the bat and the man who rescued her) – Count Bleck had a great deal of time to read the Prognosticus before he read this bit about somebody like Dimentio, as he says to Tippi that he “searched long…searched and searched” for her. All this searching would quite certainly be after he had acquired the Prognosticus and, it seems, killed his father. And he would probably have been reading it quite a bit, considering that even when he first acquires it he says, “Speak, Dark Prognosticus! Teach your dark history!”

So despite all this reading he did, and the great familiarity he seems to have with the dark prophecy judging from how often he quotes it, he didn’t see this bit about Dimentio until fairly recently. And the Dark Prognosticus, from how it looks in the game, doesn’t look like it was long enough that he could possibly not reach the bit about Dimentio until recently. So then presumably the contents of the Dark Prognosticus actually shift and change. After all, Count Bleck never shows any sign of having knowledge from the Dark Prognosticus other than the knowledge of the dark prophecy, despite the fact that it must have had such information at one point: “Over the years, many have fought over it… Entire countries have fallen. And the fall of those countries was already predicted in the book,” Garson says. Garson also says in the same story that “everything that’ll happen in the future is written down in this book.” So how on earth could it be that small and have all that information? Its contents must change.

So, back to Nastasia. Now, having learned all this, she could finally act and help to prevent what she dreaded. So of course, eager to try to save Bleck, even if she could never be with him, she would rush off to tell Mimi and O’Chunks to go to Dimension D, telling them that she “FELT” Count Bleck would be there since she would not want to admit that she had stolen the Dark Prognosticus from her master. Then she would rush back to the room where Count Bleck was being defeated, hoping to be able to shield him from Dimentio when the time came.

And so that is why Nastasia knew to shield Bleck from Dimentio, and why she knew that Blumiere and Timpani were living somewhere in happiness together as she says at the end, and and why she is so sad if you speak to her after you finish, saying that she knows what it was like when Blumiere became Count Bleck, because she too lost someone she loved and was corrupted by the Dark Prognosticus. And that is why Count Bleck and Tippi can actually live together in happiness after the events of the game, despite the fact that Count Bleck had owned the Dark Prognosticus for quite some time.

This theory could also explain why Nastasia was able to survive Dimentio’s blow. The Light Prognosticus reveals that Count Bleck had some sort of “dark power”: “Naught can stop [the Void]…unless the one protected by the dark power is destroyed.” Could this power have come from owning the Dark Prognosticus? After all, the Tribe of Darkness, according to Garson, may have “used the book’s power to enhance their dark magic.” If this power came from the Dark Prognosticus, when Nastasia took ownership of the book, she received the dark power…which could have then helped to protect her from Dimentio’s magic.

And so there you have it: my grand theory, my favorite crazy theory I’ve come up with to date, my lovely theory that explains the plot holes of how exactly Count Bleck can be happy, how Nastasia knew Bleck would be in Dimension D, how Nastasia was aware of the whereabouts of Bleck and Tippi after the end, and how Nastasia could have survived Dimentio’s magic blast, but best of all, my theory that makes dear, unfortunate, tragic Nastasia important. My theory that is, perhaps, just a bit awesome.

Thanks to:
BFarmer for his Garson/Carson story guide
Super Slash for his Super Paper Mario game script

Poetic Bookending, Parallels and the Like in Super Paper Mario

This is part of a planned series of posts analyzing, discussing and generally having fun with Super Paper Mario, my favorite Wii game. If you find it ridiculous that I am performing literary analysis on a very cheesy Mario game, you should probably ignore this.


I really love it when stories have parallels between plot threads and events and that sort of thing as well as parallels between characters in the form of foils. I don’t why I love them. I just do. They’re so satisfyingly, wonderfully, beautifully structural. But anyhow, perhaps this is part of why I enjoyed Super Paper Mario so much, because SPM has quite a few of these parallels. Here are the ones I’ve found so far – I may later update this post with more.

First of all, the beginning and the end parallel each other significantly. In the prologue, a bad guy (Bowser) and a good girl (Peach) are married without any true love in order to create the Chaos Heart. (One could try to argue that Bowser has true love for Peach, but I don’t think so, mostly because I think true love does not involve forcibly kidnapping your loved one.) In the end, the marriage (or redeclaration of love…it didn’t look much like a marriage to me) of a bad guy (Count Bleck) and good girl (Tippi) destroyed the Chaos Heart. There are other parallels, too – Bowser and Count Bleck are both central antagonists, while Peach and Tippi are supporting character types.

Then the Chaos Heart and the Pure Hearts have large parallels. The Chaos Heart was used three times: to make the Void, to make Bleck invincible during the final fight, and to make Super Dimentio invincible. The Pure Hearts were also used three times: to remove Bleck’s invincibility, to remove Super Dimentio’s invincibility, and finally to destroy the Void. Also, as Mario and co. collected the Pure Hearts and so expanded their power, the Void, and so the power of the Chaos Heart, expanded too.

Finally, the beginning and the end are the only time when you don’t know where Tippi is. (You lose Tippi at other points, but in chapter 4, you know she’s with Francis, and in chapter 7, you know she’s with Merlon, and so on.) But in both cases, there are strong implications as to where she is, so you can make an educated guess – you can figure that she was living with Merlon in Flipside in the beginning, and that she’s living with Bleck in some other dimension in the end. (Unless the other characters are just lying at the end to make themselves feel better. That’s how you can interpret it if you like bad endings.)

Foils in Super Paper Mario

This is part of a planned series of posts analyzing, discussing and generally having fun with Super Paper Mario, my favorite Wii game. If you find it ridiculous that I am performing literary analysis on a very cheesy Mario game, you should probably ignore this.


According to Wikipedia, a foil is “a character who contrasts with another character…in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character. A foil usually either differs drastically or is extremely similar but with a key difference setting them apart.” Following this definition, for each pair of foils, I’ll explain how they contrast or are similar, and then how they emphasize certain qualities in the other.

First of all, you can actually pretty comfortably draw parallels between the five central protagonists and the five main villains:

Tippi/Timpani and Nastasia

Tippi and Nastasia are actually quite similar. Both are close sidekicks; both are in love with Bleck/Blumiere; both are obedient to their leaders despite sometimes feeling uncomfortable with what they’re trying to accomplish – the key difference is that Tippi and Nastasia are on different sides. There’s also an interesting parallel in that Tippi (as Timpani) saved Blumiere (after he had fallen from a cliff) in the very first Blumiere and Timpani scene, near the beginning of the game, while Nastasia saved Bleck (from Dimentio’s blow) at the ending. (Though Bleck also saved Nastasia, if that’s how you interpret the bat story you hear in the Flopside café.)

So what do these similarities accomplish? They serve to emphasize the other important differences between Tippi and Nastasia – Tippi has strong opinions about right and wrong, and is bold to act on them; Nastasia doesn’t have strong morals and is hesitating and unsure about what to do, despite the fact that she does want to keep Bleck from destroying the world (though it may be more from her own desire to save him than from wanting to save everybody else). Tippi is also generally quite cheerful, optimistic and eager to act, while Nastasia is gloomy, wishful and, again, hesitating. Nastasia herself comments on their differences if you speak to her after the ending: “Maybe I’ll learn to smile again and look forward to the future…If I can’t…then I suppose I could never have matched up to Lady Timpani anyway…” This perhaps ties into one of the main themes of SPM – you should never give up hope. Tippi doesn’t, and she succeeds and is happy; Nastasia does – or, at least, she doesn’t do anything to try to accomplish what she hopes for – and she is unhappy in the end. Finally, Tippi’s character, made clearer by the contrast with Nastasia, also indirectly reveals more of Count Bleck/Blumiere’s personality – for instance, he must have been a strong-willed person for her to admire him and follow along with his plans.

Peach and Mimi

Peach and Mimi differ a lot, but in a parallel sort of way: Peach is honest, while Mimi is deceptive; Peach is polite, while Mimi is not; Peach gets lots of attention, to a ridiculous extent (how many times has she been kidnapped for reasons other than Bowser’s?), while Mimi isn’t so much – in fact, according to Carson, she was an unintended creation in the first place. However, they do still share some similarities: both are female, both are rather girly, and both are lower supporting characters for their different sides. In the end, it seems that these contrasts and parallels mostly serve to emphasize Peach’s niceness and Mimi’s nastiness.

(A side note: Within this game, Mimi changes form a lot, while Peach stays the same. However, rather amusingly, if you look outside SPM, Mimi – having only appeared in one game – is always the same, while Peach changes personality and looks a lot. Just look at her version in Super Mario Galaxy, in which she is rather less intelligent than she is in SPM – remember, everyone, if somebody comes along with a bunch of airships and whatnot and is trying to kidnap you, don’t, for heaven’s sakes, stand right outside on a balcony just WAITING to get captured. Go into the basement or something.)

Bowser and O’Chunks

Bowser and O’Chunks are rather similar – strong and perhaps not the most intelligent. That said, Bowser is naturally bad, while O’Chunks, it seems, is naturally good (he thinks a lot about honor and has a great respect for rules) – but they’re on the wrong sides. So what’s the point of these parallels? Perhaps just to further point out the amusing absurdity in this game in having so many people on the wrong sides. Or maybe to underscore their lack of intelligence. Or maybe to say that Mario and Peach were being as bad as Bleck when they manipulated Bowser into joining them, just like Bleck manipulated O’Chunks into joining him…

Luigi and Dimentio

This set of foils is probably the biggest stretch, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with literary analysis that’s a bit of a stretch, right? So, Dimentio is clearly self-centered, happy to betray both sides in order to achieve his own goals. Luigi, on the other hand, is fine with going through great annoyance and pain in order to serve his brother and Princess Peach, even when there’s a good chance he won’t even get acknowledged for his sacrifices at the end. (But he can be sure that he will get acknowledged by multitudes of Luigi fans.) Dimentio is also suave and cool; Luigi…not so much. And Dimentio has huge, far-reaching, multiverse-changing goals, while one does not get the feeling that Luigi does. Take the beginning of the game – Luigi is happy to be having a peaceful day with his brother. He does wish for some kind of “KERBLOOEY!” (to quote him) but then goes on to suggest the rather mundane idea of going to visit Princess Peach.

There are two big similarities. The first: both Dimentio and Luigi tend to be fearful in some ways, but manage to deal with their fears one way or another. Dimentio, you could say, is fearful of a direct confrontation with Count Bleck or the heroes – he relies on the heroes to put Count Bleck out of commission and then on his…creation?…Super Dimentio, fueled by the Chaos Heart, to deal with them afterwards. Luigi, now, is timid, but he still tries his best (arguably…) to save Princess Peach in the beginning and do whatever else he can to help the heroes. The second (and biggest) similarity is that both somehow betrayed their sides. Dimentio certainly did; Luigi did without meaning to as Mr. L after Nastasia brainwashed him. And then Dimentio, the great betrayer, was the one who “killed” Mr. L in order to return him to his proper Luigi form, ending that betrayal. Interesting.

Again, these contrasts and similarities underscore the traits of Luigi and Dimentio that they bring into parallel. They also lead to a bit of a theme going on about how it’s bad to be clever and scheming (like Dimentio), rather, there’s nothing wrong with being a bit fearful and awkward (like Luigi). Perhaps they also say that there is while nothing wrong with being fearful, there are right and wrong ways to deal with those fears. Dimentio uses schemery; Luigi just tries to be brave and faces them.

Mario and Count Bleck

These two are naturally foils to each other as the main protagonist and antagonist, though in the end, Bleck doesn’t provide the climactic struggle (Dimentio does), and Mario doesn’t win this climactic struggle on his own (since without the regenerated Pure Hearts provided by Tippi and Bleck and co., he couldn’t have won). Besides this curious business about them not really being the final hero or villain, there’s another similarity: both originally act out of love of some sort (Mario started the adventure by trying to save Peach; Bleck decided to destroy the multiverse mostly because of his foiled love for Timpani) but in the end act mostly because of destiny (Mario fights because he’s the only one who’s destined to be able to stop the destruction; Bleck continues with his plan because he thinks it’s his destiny, not because he really wants it to come through).

But these characters mostly contrast. Mario has no secrets or depth – he probably has the least depth of any of the main characters – while Bleck is one of the most secretive and complicated characters in the game. Mario is also lighthearted, even goofy (no worry or anger even when Sammer’s Kingdom is destroyed, for instance), while Bleck is often rather dark and gloomy. Curiously, though, Mario never laughs (even though he does say “Hi!” and “No no!” and “Me?” and so on) while Bleck is going “BLEH-HEH-HEH!” all the time.

As always, these contrasts underscore the relevant traits of each character, but perhaps the silliness of Mario in comparison to Bleck is one more way SPM pokes fun at its own seriousness. Then there are the interesting similarities in how they are motivated by destiny yet did not actually accomplish those final goals themselves. SPM already has a bit of a theme going on how prophecies and the like aren’t final and don’t actually determine what will happen in the end. So maybe through this similarity between Mario and Count Bleck, the game communicates that the point of prophecies, then, is to encourage the people they talk about to try for those things, as the Light Prognosticus encouraged Mario to try to stop Bleck, and the Dark Prognosticus encouraged Bleck to try to destroy the universe. So then SPM’s saying that prophecies aren’t actually true – they’re just meant to motivate people to try to follow them. Hmm. Maybe I’m reading a bit too much into this.

At any rate, there you have the five central foils of Super Paper Mario. They work out pretty well, don’t they? Besides those, there are a few more that I found. Yes, MORE!

Private Koopa and the manipulative goombas

Remember those scenes in Castle Bleck way at the beginning of the game where you play Peach and then Luigi trying to escape? Peach is accompanied by a very nice koopa called Private Koopa who even tries to defend her once Nastasia and co. find her, and who then is tragically brainwashed. (He was my favorite character from SPM for a while for no particularly good reason.) Luigi, on the other hand, is accompanied by two goombas who manipulate him into helping them and then promptly desert him once Nastasia finds them. Foils, wouldn’t you say? I, being a Private Koopa fan, as I said, say that the traitorousness of the goombas serve to further emphasize the goodness and self-sacrifice of poor Private Koopa, who I probably unwittingly and callously stomped on or fire-breathed for a few measly experience points and coins while going through Castle Bleck in Chapter 8. Sob.

Luigi and Mr. L

(By the way, this foil still applies even if you insist that Mr. L is not Luigi and is, say, Merlon instead – MeRLon, right? And they never appear at the same time! Anyhow, this is because the game does set up Mr. L and Luigi as being the same person – the truth aside – and so they can serve as foils.)

Mr. L, being a sort of alternate personality of Luigi, is naturally a foil to him. Luigi tends to be a bit nervous and insecure; Mr. L, now, is overconfident and absolutely sure that he and his Brobot can defeat the heroes once and for all. (Because Brobot, of course, “shoots missiles. Missiles!”) Luigi seems unimportant, at least at first, while Mr. L seems more important, if that’s mostly because he likes to talk about his own significance. So here we get an interesting exploration of what would happen if Luigi got over his weaknesses too much – they would turn into flaws themselves. Again, as I said under the bit about Luigi and Dimentio being foils, it is perhaps saying that there’s nothing wrong with being a bit fearful and awkward – the greater problem is not being fearful and awkward to too great an extent.

And there you have it – the foils of Super Paper Mario and all the incredible meaning contained within them!

Motifs in Super Paper Mario

This is part of a planned series of posts analyzing, discussing and generally having fun with Super Paper Mario, my favorite Wii game. If you find it ridiculous that I am performing literary analysis on a very cheesy Mario game, you should probably ignore this.


A motif is “any recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story” according to Wikipedia. As it turns out, I’ve only managed to find one motif in Super Paper Mario so far – motifs can be tricky to find, you know, especially when they’re not supposed to be there at all – but it’s quite a nice one:

Seeing through a monocle or a pair of glasses symbolizes seeing things more clearly

There are two main points of proof for this: Count Bleck’s monocle and Nastasia’s glasses. I’ll detail them separately.

Count Bleck’s monocle
This fine piece of technology is first mentioned outright in chapter 6 after his surprise entrance in the middle of Sammer’s Kingdom. At the end of his conversation with Tippi, he says, “This world is dying under the monocled gaze of…Count Bleck!” After the aforementioned chat, the monocle is mentioned again (as if to push the point), this time by Nastasia in the next minion cutscene (paraphrased since [like ALL natural speech!] the original words were a bit fumbling): “You seem a bit different today. New monocle? Or did something happen?” In fact, she hits right on the point: after his conversation with Tippi, he begins to see things more clearly and in a different light – as through a new monocle – and realizes that she is probably Timpani.

Then, in the ending, when Dimentio throws a magic blast at him to kill him, his monocle cracks. Afterwards, as he is talking with Tippi in Dimension D, he is stuck on the idea that they can’t possibly stop Dimentio, the Void, etc. – he isn’t seeing as clearly anymore, like one doesn’t see clearly through a cracked monocle. But then after the Pure Hearts show up and automagically heal his clothes, etc. (those Pure Hearts are SO handy! They can save the universe and fix your clothes besides!), his monocle is fine again, and later he sees clearly that he and Tippi could marry to destroy the Chaos Heart.

Nastasia’s glasses
Throughout most of the game, Nastasia has two lenses, as opposed to Bleck, who has just one. And she sees more clearly than him that they should try to stop the destruction, especially after it seems that Timpani is probably still alive. However, when she uses her brainwashing power, she removes her glasses – showing how she is being foolish when she decides to use her power for evil. Additionally, during the ending, after Dimentio hits her with the blast meant for Bleck, her glasses fall off. She puts them on again after being revived, but she is still seeing less clearly, as evidenced by how sad and unsure she is at Bleck’s disappearance. (The problem with this last bit of evidence is that it seems that everything Nastasia says after being revived is supposed to be taken as truth – e.g. that Bleck and Tippi are alive and happy. But refer to the soon-to-be-posted Awesome Nastasia Theory for a good workaround.)

Themes in Super Paper Mario

This is part of a planned series of posts analyzing, discussing and generally having fun with Super Paper Mario, my favorite Wii game. If you find it ridiculous that I am performing literary analysis on a very cheesy Mario game, you should probably ignore this.


And now, I present to you, the four central themes of Super Paper Mario, with their subthemes detailed underneath.

#1: The Various Powers of Love

You knew it was coming.

Love can be twisted and lead to evil, but it can also be very good
As for evil, most obviously, Blumiere’s grief over Timpani made him do evil stuff. Then, Bowser and Peach being married, partly out of Bowser’s love (or whatever you would like to call it) for Peach, resulted in the Chaos Heart. Finally, the Ancients caused various problems for themselves by going around and falling in love with everyone.

But, of course, there was also good – the example that everyone remembers is that Bleck and Tippi’s marriage at the end saved everything, but the forgotten and underused example is that Nastasia, perhaps out of love for Bleck, shielded him from Dimentio’s blow (taking it herself! sniff!) at the end and so made possible the happy ending! Then there are various other examples, like the old couple in Flipside (but which, of course, have their unhappy Flopside counterparts, which belong in the first paragraph).

If you count other sorts of love:

Francis loves hi-technicaaaal things, resulting in him kidnapping Tippi and annoying the unfortunate gamer for a whole chapter (evil)

Mimi loves money, resulting in her enslaving you to earn Rubees (evil)

King Croacus loves beautiful things, resulting in him similarly enslaving Cragnons to work in the mines (evil)

King Sammer loves entertainment, so he makes you fight lots of Sammer Guys until the end of the world interferes (sort of evil)

Squirps loved his mother and so faithfully…well, to some extent…followed her instructions (good)

Luvbi loved her parents, so she was able to reconcile with them (eventually…) before turning into a Pure Heart (good)

Love and Each Chapter’s Theme
As it turns out, you can, more or less, analyze each chapter in SPM as having its own sort of love that it focuses on. Some of these are a bit contrived (after all, to some extent, you can say every story ever written is about some sort of love – of power, of money, of praise, etc.), but others make an awful lot of sense.

Chapter 1 – Love of adventure despite lack of recognition (Bestovious, Green, Old Man Watchitt and O’Chunks all refuse to “properly” recognize Mario as the hero; Fracktail, meanwhile, recognizes Mario as the hero but is then messed up by Dimentio; Tippi recognizes Dimentio but he cuts her off before she can continue what she was going to say about him – but both Mario and Dimentio continue on their adventures without being dissuaded)

Chapter 2 – Love of money (Mimi)

Chapter 3 – Love of cool stuff (Bowser loves his cool castle that he has to leave behind to join the heroes; Francis obviously loves a lot of stuff that he thinks is cool, including Tippi, which fuels the plot)

Chapter 4 – Love of family (Squirps, who loves his mother, pesters/helps you the whole chapter; Mr. L – at least if you think he’s Luigi – flaunts his love of his brother to attack the heroes)

Chapter 5 – Love of things (the Cragnons love all the various modern things they have, which produce a lot of trash, which they then throw into the river, causing trouble; King Croacus loves BEAUTIFUL THINGS and enslaves Cragnons to produce more)

Chapter 6 – The foiling of love (Mario and co., with a sort of love for the world and the people in it, are foiled when it’s destroyed; Count Bleck has a great speech relating to his losing Timpani)

Chapter 7 – Fleeting love and true love (Luvbi teases Tippi the whole chapter about having a crush on Mario, which she perhaps does, but it’s not mentioned any more after this chapter, making it fleeting at best; at the end, Queen Jaydes and Grambi show how they have true love for Luvbi)

Chapter 8 – The triumph and power of love (Do I even need to give proof?)

And now for the next subtheme of “The Various Powers of Love”…

Love conquers all
The Pure Hearts regenerated three times – once when the other three heroes arrived; once when Bleck’s minions expressed their devotion to him; and finally when Bleck and Tippi married at the end. Those are some Pure Hearts. Then you could also attribute Luvbi’s unexplained reapperance after the ending to the all-conquering power of love. And, of course, it’s quite impressive that both Timpani and Blumiere managed to stay alive and find each other again.

#2: People can be more than they seem

(Or, rather, intelligent beings can be more than they seem, since the actual humanity of some of these characters could be disputed.)

Tippi, Bleck and Dimentio all had secret motives, backstories, etc. that one might not expect at first. Nastasia, too, seems pretty evil at first, but she becomes sympathetic, even tragic later on. And then you have Luigi. Even if you don’t believe that Mr. L is Luigi, you must admit – who knew that Luigi had it in him to be part of the final boss, Super Dimentio? Especially since Luigi is so timid at the beginning of SPM! Peach’s personality is also a bit surprising if you’re used to her Mario Bros./Mario Galaxy/etc. version. Finally, there are several minor characters that have more to them than you might think at first – Squirps turned out to be a prince; Luvbi turned out to be a Pure Heart.

#3: Light and dark must come together to make a complete whole

(Note that good and evil is sometimes personified as light and dark.)

The Light and Dark Progonistici (What am I supposed to call them? Prognosticuses? Prognostici sounds much better!) together revealed at least most of what was going to happen; alone, they would have been even more incomplete. Also, both Flipside (light) and Flopside (dark) were needed to find all the Heart Pillars, etc. And, at the end, you had the crowning Dramatic Coming Together of Light and Dark when Tippi (light) and Bleck (dark) got married – alone, the world wouldn’t have been able to be saved.

#4: Never give up hope

Just look at Blumiere, who gave up hope of finding Timpani or ever being happy again, and what HE ended up trying to do! And later on, he realizes that Timpani is alive – in the form of Tippi – but he’s given up hope of stopping the Dark Prognosticus’s prophecy, and perhaps has also given up hope of her ever caring about him again, so he does nothing. (One could also argue that he had become evil and so didn’t care anymore, but that doesn’t support my theory, so I’m ignoring it.) Then, the Light Prognosticus reminded the heroes to never give up hope. I quote: “Only those who have not abandoned hope can turn back the prophecy of doom. They walk forward into the future, no matter how dark and uncertain it may be.” Ah. How poignant. And, of course, the Ancients, like good fictional characters, never gave up on the power of love. Additionally…

Prophecies, curses and the like aren’t final, so don’t give up hope because of them
Remember Tippi’s little speech at the ending to a defeated Dimentio? Including this bit: “Nothing is decided entirely by fate, you know… All things determine their destinies.” Therefore, never give up because of fate! Also, we are told during the prologue that “no person, after obtaining this amazing book, ever found happiness.” Despite this, the ending very strongly implies that Bleck – who had obviously obtained the Dark Prognosticus – was happy. Apparently, the curse of the Dark Prog was not final. (Now, you can go for the loophole and argue that only people who got the Dark Prog were the ones who could never find happiness, and Bleck was from the Tribe of Darkness, and so he wasn’t a person, exactly – but again, this doesn’t support my theory, so I’m ignoring it. And there is another way out that is detailed in the Awesome Nastasia Theory, which I hope to post soon, but still, I’m handwaving it at the moment for the purpose of discussion.) And, of course, the Dark Prognosticus turned out to be false, so Bleck shouldn’t have given up on being able to stop the dark prophecy.

#5: Withholding information is dangerous!

Particularly if you do so using ambiguous language. After all, Blumiere’s father implied that he had killed Timpani, and then got destroyed and nearly caused the demolition of the universe because of it! If he had just said that he had cursed her to wander dimensions forever, Blumiere might not have been as annoyed. Additionally, the Prognostici had ambiguous language, which caused some confusion. (Though the confusion was partly due to the intelligence of the people trying to interpret the prophecies – “the ‘man in green’…I know not what this means… I must return to my study to solve this conundrum…” SUCH a conundrum!) Finally, near the end of the game, Tippi withheld from Merlon and the heroes what she was remembering about Count Bleck. If she had told them, perhaps they could have come up with a better strategy for the Final Showdown than just fighting him.

(Admittedly, this theme is a bit of a stretch.)