Controversial animal rights group PETA is arguing that one of Nintendo character Mario’s most popular power-ups should be powered down. The group is taking the position that gaming’s most famous plumber is supporting the fur industry when he dons his Tanooki suit — an optional item in the game Super Mario 3D Land that gives Mario the ability to glide.
The Tanooki suit turns Mario into a tanuki, a racoon-dog that is traditionally used in Japanese literature as a trickster animal. The animals are also prized for their coats in Japan, however, and PETA argues that Mario’s suit promotes that industry.
To drive home its point, the group has launched a “Mario Kills Tanooki” campaign complete with a Flash game where players help a skinned animal locate his pelt.
As CBS News reporter Jeff Bakalar pointed out, it’s interesting that PETA has chosen to go after Mario for his fur suit and not for his years spent stomping on Koopa Troopa turtles and using their shells as ammunition.
PETA has gone after video games in the past. Most recently, its German branch complained to Battlefield developer DICE because of a segment of the game where players can stab a rat, Eurogamer reported.
Eurogamer reached out and got an official statement from Nintendo regarding the group’s campaign against the Tanooki suit.
“Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games,” a Nintendo spokesperson told the site. “These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself. These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play. The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves.”