“Oh, you think you're so smart, teaming up on me, huh? Don't think you can beat me just cuz I'm alone. It's my solo debut on the battle lines, see?”
Popple is one of the main characters in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and a minor character in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. Popple, or the "Shadow Thief" as he calls himself, desires to be a super thief who dreams of getting rich quick.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
The Mario Bros. first run into Popple and his accomplice, Rookie (who is really an amnesiac Bowser) in the Chateau de Chucklehuck where they are after the secret of the brewery's world famous drink, Chuckola Cola. Engaging the bros. in battle, Mario and Luigi manage to beat Popple and the blank-minded Bowser. The two show up again when Mario and Luigi solve the puzzles of Chucklehuck Woods, but they end up being blasted into the sky by the Chuckolator. He has a tendency of saying "see?" at the end of most sentences, similar to the stereotype of mafia thugs.
The Bros. encounter Rookie and Popple again in the basement of Woohoo Hooniversity, where they are trying to steal the Beanstar. The two groups end up fighting again, and even when using their own Bros. move, Popple and Rookie still lose. Suddenly, after the battle, the head of a Princess Peach robot falls through the ceiling and its voice irritates the Beanstar so much it bursts through the ceiling, taking Mario, Luigi, Rookie and Popple with it. The Beanstar then divides into four pieces flinging all its passengers off. Mario lands with Luigi in Oho Oasis, while Bowser is flung to Stardust Fields, where he is soon used as a revival power for Cackletta's spirit. Popple's landing destination is unknown.
Popple appears again in Chucklehuck Woods trying to get a piece of the Beanstar off a statue. The Mario Bros. fight him again, but this time without Bowser. After losing, he swears revenge upon the two and spins himself into the dirt below to escape. Popple appears again later, having made a base in Teehee Valley. After finding an unconscious Luigi in the desert, he takes him as a prisoner to lure Mario to his base. After Mario frees Luigi, Popple attacks and introduces his new Rookie, Birdo, who has fallen hopelessly in love with him. After losing in battle, Popple blames his defeat on Birdo, calls her useless and Birdo, heart-broken, knocks him through the wall. Popple is then sentenced to community service in Little Fungitown where he is last seen, and ironically, his supervisor calls him Rookie.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
Popple reappears in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. In this game, Popple is first met outside of Pi'illoper's house; after a failed robbery of his house, Popple runs into the Bros., whom he doesn't remember (for reasons unknown), and drops his loot. However, he begins vaguely recalling his unfortunate encounters with them in the Beanbean Kingdom (while unaware that it was specifically them he had in mind). He is later seen on two tours, at Driftwood Shore and Mount Pajamaja, the former of which he abandons due to a lack of potential treasure, and the latter of which he is kicked out of by the Massif Bros., who explain there is no room for him. He later attempts to burgle Pi'llo-per's collection room again, this time from the back entrance, accessible through the northern ruins. He misinterprets a Wiggler called Wiggly, whom aspires to build a garden in the Pi'illo ruins, for a security guard and meets Mario and Luigi, whom he still doesn't quite remember.
Later, he starts calling them his "rookies", just like he did with Bowser in Superstar Saga. He then forces Mario and Luigi into a battle against Wiggly by enraging it with insults. After the Bros. beat Wiggly, Popple suddenly turns against them, aiming to claim Pi'illoper's treasure for himself, but is quickly beaten by the Bros. Afterwards, he realizes Wiggly wasn't a security guard and continues to insult Wiggly and his aspirations, angered that he fought over a "stupid flower garden". Wiggly then chases Popple for insulting the flowers, and Popple declares he has had enough of this island. He is not seen for the remainder of the game.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
In the first battle against the wannabe thief, Popple is accompanied by his loyal servant, Rookie. Whenever Popple is attacked, Rookie throws fast-moving hammers that each brother must deflect with their own hammers. If the player defeats Rookie first, it will cause Popple to run away from the battle. However, defeating Popple causes the player to get 50 more experience points and 30 more coins.
Popple simply targets a single brother and either rams them or steals a Mushroom from them; if the latter hits, he heals himself or Rookie with it the next turn. This can be determined by watching; a grinning Popple will target Luigi, while a 'neutral' expression signals Mario. Determining his actual move depends on which type of counterattack is available. If the brothers can only jump, Popple will tackle them; hammer icons mean that a theft attempt is imminent.
The second time the Mario Bros. fight him and Rookie, his moves remain the same until Rookie loses about half of his HP, prompting them to start doing "Bros. Attacks" of their own, which always have Popple getting hurt. The first one has Rookie tossing Popple in the air, then jumping and grabbing him; he then piledrives Popple into the ground to create shockwaves that the brothers both need to jump over. The second one has Rookie light Popple on fire and swing him towards a brother, who has to counter with the hammer.
The third time, when Popple is alone, he has two new attacks. For the first one, he grabs a money bag from offscreen, and starts throwing random items out of it. Most of the items are coins and mushrooms. Occasionally, however, he will throw out a Poison Mushroom and a monster similar to a Designbomb. These items will either come straight at the brothers or bounce towards them, in which case they will only get hit by them if they jump. The second new move is a little more dangerous; Popple will turn his back to the Bros., with same tell as his first two attacks (either a smile or his normal mad expression), then he tries to steal a brother's hammer. This can be countered with the hammer, but if not blocked correctly, Popple steals the hammer and uses it against them. Also, that brother can't attack with the hammer either except for Fire Bros. and Thunder Bros. (when advanced). The hammer later returns to their possession after a few turns. Barring this particular fight (as he is alone this time), Popple, like Jojora, is not required to be defeated to win any of the battles he is in.
In the fourth and final battle, he fights with Birdo by his side with all of the moves that he previously used. Strangely enough, during this battle, when Popple steals Mario or Luigi's Ultra Hammer, it shows he has a Super Hammer instead.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Popple teams up with the Bros. to battle Wiggly, but his acts put the Bros. in constant danger; some of them include angering Wiggly, latching on to a Bro. and making it harder for them to counter, or selfishly knocking them aside to try and escape. Usually, most of these can be prevented if a Bro. attacks Popple when he stands in front of Wiggly to attack, but in some cases Popple shrugs off the blows. After Wiggly is beaten, Popple will then turn on the Bros. and fight them himself.
He can attack by running up to either Mario or Luigi and attempting to steal one of their hammers, which can be prevented if the target Bro. promptly smacks Popple with their hammer. If Popple is successful, he will start hitting them with it afterwards, an attack he used in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. Starting with the Bro. he got the hammer from, Popple will continuously smash Mario and Luigi unless the Bro. with a hammer strikes back with his first when approached.
Popple may also go off-screen and return with his brown sack, from which he throws out three or five objects before him in a row. The objects can be soccer balls, Mushrooms, Coins, or Brick Blocks. Popple will stand before each item (starting from the southernmost one), rear back his foot, and kick whatever it is at the Bros. If he faces up, he is aiming for Mario, and facing straight ahead means that he is aiming for Luigi.
Getting hit by the soccer balls will result in the targeted Bro. taking damage, and must be smashed back with the hammer to counter-attack. Getting hit by the coins will produce no negative effects, and smashing them back will result in Popple getting them back, also having no negative effects. Getting hit by a Mushroom will heal the hit Bro. by 30 HP, and smashing it back will heal Popple by 30 HP instead. Should Popple kick a Brick Block, he will shatter it open and hurt his toe, revealing one of the other three items mentioned inside. Popple will soon recover from his moment of pain and then quickly kick the item at his target.
Names in other languages