Pauline (also known as Lady and Louise in early games) was Mario's original love interest. She is the damsel-in-distress in the arcade game Donkey Kong, in which she was captured by the original Donkey Kong. She is one of the few damsels in the Mario series who is not a princess, but simply a normal citizen. After a large gap of absence, Pauline now makes regular appearances in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. There, she fulfills the same role as in prior games, although she can play other background roles.
Pauline is stated by Game Over, a 1993 non-fiction book by David Sheff, to be named after Polly James, wife of Nintendo of America's warehouse manager, Don James. Her namesake, however, may be the damsel-in-distress featured in the eponymous movie serial The Perils of Pauline.
Concept and creation
When Donkey Kong is released for the Game Boy, Pauline is given a redesign, far more drastic than most other character redesigns. Her dress is now red instead of pink, with more details, such as being ribbed at the chest and halt-necked. As before, it is ripped by Donkey Kong in the struggle. Her shoes are changed from pink to black, and resemble Mary Jane-styled pumps with a stiletto heel. She also wears beaded, gold earrings with a gold, oval extension.
Pauline receives her current appearance in Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. The only changes made to her outfit from the original redesign include a golden bangle on her left arm, a bow knot at the back of her dress strap, ankle-strap pumps replacing her previous Mary Jane style, and red finger nails. This is the first game that shows Pauline's dress before becoming ripped. It is shown to end just above her ankles and appears to loosen to slightly frill out.
In the same way Mario is originally named Jumpman in the arcade version of Donkey Kong, Pauline is originally referred simply as "Lady" in promotional materials for the game. She is later named Louise in the Game & Watch version, but the Saturday Supercade animated adaptation soon gives her name, "Pauline", which Nintendo later adopts officially for the NES version. In Japan, she was still known as "Lady" until Donkey Kong '94.
Donkey Kong series
Pauline made her debut appearance in the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong as the very first damsel-in-distress in any video game made before that time.
Pauline is the girlfriend of a carpenter, Mario (originally known as Jumpman), and is kidnapped by his pet gorilla Donkey Kong. She is taken up onto a building and loses various objects (such as her purse and her umbrella, which can be collected for bonus Points) on the way. Mario then climbs up the building, avoiding all the hazards in the way, to rescue her. However, when Mario reaches the top of the building, Donkey Kong will grab Pauline and take her higher up, forcing Mario to do another level. After four Levels, Donkey Kong is trapped and Mario removes the rivets from the platform, sending Donkey Kong plummeting. Pauline and Mario are finally reunited and share a special moment together.
Donkey Kong (Game Boy)
Eventually, Pauline is given an updated appearance and is featured in the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong. Mario pursues Donkey Kong (and his son Donkey Kong Jr.) as he carries Pauline across a variety of locales (the original city setting is only the first world visited). Once more, Pauline is eventually rescued by Mario. The two are then shown in a Mushroom Kingdom setting where Pauline supplies Mario with a Super Mushroom so he can catch Donkey Kong, although the attempt fails when Donkey Kong crushes Mario. They then had their photo taken at Rocky-Valley.
Pauline appears as a regular character in the Mario series episodes within the Saturday Supercade show produced by Ruby-Spears. Voiced by Judy Strangis, Pauline plays the role as Mario's assistant or partner and is often seen to be alongside him in the various episodes. The two work together to capture Donkey Kong throughout the series. Pauline can also be seen helping Stanley in another episode. Her appearance in this show appears to based on her earlier artwork that is provided on the original Donkey Kong game as seen by her blonde hair as opposed to her future brown colored hair, as well as her general face design.
Pauline appears in the Mario Breakout mode of Pinball, where she is held inside the breakable blocks and has to be caught by Mario before she hits the floor. After this, Pauline does not appear in another Mario series game for ten whole years (while Princess Peach replaces her as Mario's girlfriend in Super Mario Bros.).
Mario vs. Donkey Kong series
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
Pauline makes her next reappearance twelve years after the Game Boy Donkey Kong, in Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. The games starts with the grand opening of the Super Mini Mario World theme park, where Pauline is Mario's guest of honor. While their relationship status goes unmentioned in the game, the manual states that Mario and Pauline are simply good friends at this time.
Donkey Kong is working at the Mario Toy Company, and when he sees Pauline, he becomes infatuated and presents her with a Mini Donkey Kong. When she chooses Mario's proffered Mini Mario over his gift, however Donkey Kong becomes enraged and kidnaps Pauline. Mario eventually defeats Donkey Kong and rescues Pauline with the help of his Mini Marios, and Pauline makes peace between them all by accepting Donkey Kong's Mini.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!
Pauline appears again as a damsel-in-distress in Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! for DSiWare. Once again, Pauline is assisting Mario in the opening of Super Mini Mario World. Donkey Kong waits in a line to buy admissions tickets only to arrive at the front when the tickets are sold out. Donkey Kong, furious, pushes his way through a crowd of Toads and snatches Pauline. Mario attempts to stop this, ripping Pauline's dress in the process, but Donkey Kong escapes to the roof with Pauline. Mario then sends the Mini Mario toys in pursuit of Donkey Kong to rescue Pauline.
Mario eventually reaches the top floor, where he opens a door to find Pauline by a window in a small room. However, Donkey Kong turns the lights off and escapes through the window with Pauline, and Mario once more gives chase through another round of floors that the Mini Mario toys must navigate. Once Mario makes it to the end of these floors, he finds Pauline in a similar room, but this time, she is holding a clipboard and standing happily next to Donkey Kong, some Toads and the Mini Mario toys. She informs the confused Mario that the Mini Mario toys have passed the test run, revealing that Donkey Kong had kidnapped Pauline to test the performance of the toys and she is completely fine and happy. Mario shrugs it off seeing as he had such a great time traversing the theme park with his Minis, and all is well.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!
Pauline makes another appearance in Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!. Mario and Pauline are welcoming customers to the grand opening of "Mini-Land" by giving away Mini Pauline toys to the first 100 customers. Donkey Kong, excitedly charges his way to the front wanting a Pauline Mini toy for himself, but when he arrives, Mario sternly tells him that they are out of stock. Donkey Kong becomes enraged and kidnaps Pauline instead, heading into the theme park. Mario once again gives chase immediately with assistance from the Mini-Land toys.
After navigating the Minis though all the theme park's attractions Mario locates Pauline standing just below a Ferris wheel. She welcomes her hero Mario warmly before Donkey Kong surprises them both by jumping from the top of the Ferris wheel to scoop Pauline up once again, forcing Mario to pursue him through more of the theme park's areas.
After chasing Donkey Kong through the theme park again, Mario finally finds Pauline once more under the Ferris wheel; this time, however, when Donkey Kong appears to confront him, Mario presents him with a Mini Pauline toy. Donkey Kong is overjoyed, and Pauline ultimately finds the whole thing very sweet. She makes her way to the Ferris wheel, where she, Donkey Kong, Mario, and the Minis enjoy a ride in celebration.
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move
Pauline reappears in Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move. She runs Mini-Land with Donkey Kong where they open a game arcade using the mini toys. Pauline is not kidnapped in this game, but hosts the Minigames mode and is seen simply congratulating players on their scores alongside Donkey Kong at the end of certain modes.
Pauline's face appears as an icon in the Mini Target Smash game in Minigames mode. Smashing a Pauline target can cause the player to lose 100, 200, or 300 points, depending on the target's position. Mini Pauline toys also takes a more active role in this game; although they are the last toy to be unlocked, they are still available for play and can be used in all modes except Minigames mode, in which only Mini Mario is playable. As with most characters in this title, Pauline herself takes a background role and leaves the spot light to the Mini toys.
Pauline appears in most of the challenges and remixes based on Donkey Kong.
Other appearances, references and cameos
In the 1993 live-action film Super Mario Bros., Mario has a Brooklynite girlfriend referred to in the script as Daniella Pauline Verducci, although she's referred only to as Daniella on-screen. The woman also roughly resembles Pauline.
Although Pauline does not appear in the Donkey Kong-inspired strip in the first issue of Blip, the damsel who appears in her place clearly resembles her.
Pauline makes small appearances in the Nintendo Monopoly and Donkey Kong Jenga board games. She also makes a cameo in Nintendo Land, where she is seen in the background while playing the Donkey Kong's Crash Course attraction.
Originally, Pauline's design was nothing more than a blonde woman (with hair similar to Princess Peach's design) wearing a torn pink dress and pink, ankle-strapped pumps.
Currently, Pauline is depicted as a woman with lavender-eyed, long burgundy hair, and pale skin. She has large, slanted eyes with long, defined eyelashes and eyebrows that are dark, curvy, and thin out as they extend. She wears a significant amount of makeup - namely, violet eye shadow, red lipstick, and nail polish. Unlike most females from the Mario series, Pauline is quite tall, as seen in Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. Regarding her face and hair, her appearance is very similar to that of Captain Syrup from the Wario series.
Mario and Pauline's relationship is confirmed to be romantic during the Donkey Kong arcade game and its remake, soon after Pauline is dropped as Mario's girlfriend and replaced with Princess Peach. In the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, it is stated that the two are now close friends, with her attending Mario's Mini Mario business and theme park events as a VIP, and his racing to her rescue when Donkey Kong kidnaps her at said events. Later, she takes a more active role in Mario's business ventures and helps run his Mini-Land theme park.
Donkey Kong has an unrequited crush on Pauline, flying into childish rages and kidnapping her when he feels rejected in favor of Mario. While Pauline is frightened by Donkey Kong when he kidnaps her, he never hurts her and she does not bear him ill-will as a result of his impulsiveness, being quick to forgive him after he is subdued by Mario and shows remorse for his actions. Aside from the kidnapping incidents, two get along well, and while Pauline does not return Donkey Kong's affections, it is implied that she finds his gestures sweet.