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“Oh, sure, you guys are real tough, teaming up on me! Don't think you can beat me just 'cause I'm alone. It's my solo debut on the battle lines, see?”
Popple is one of the supporting characters in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and a minor character in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. Popple, or the "Shadow Thief" as he calls himself, dreams of becoming a super thief and being rich beyond belief. He has a tendency of saying "see?" at the end of most sentences, which is a common verbal tic for stereotypical thugs and mobsters. As seen in the remake of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Popple seems to be known among criminals, when several enemies line up to see who can be his new partner after his previous Rookie goes missing.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Mario and Luigi first run into Popple and his accomplice, Rookie (who is actually Bowser suffering amnesia), in the Chateau de Chucklehuck where they are after the secret of the brewery's drink, Chuckola Cola. They soon fight against Mario and Luigi, but they are quickly beaten and run ahead. They 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.
Popple and Rookie are encountered again in the basement of Woohoo Hooniversity, where they are trying to steal the Beanstar, and they end up fighting Mario and Luigi again. Though they've formed new Bros. Attacks (that often end up hurting Popple), they still lose. After the battle, the still-speaking head of a Peach-bot falls through the ceiling. 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 and tosses all its passengers off, Popple included.
Popple appears again in Chucklehuck Woods trying to get a piece of the Beanstar off of a statue. He is then fought again, but this time without the help of Rookie. After losing, he swears revenge upon the two and spins himself into the ground to escape. Popple once again appears in Teehee Valley, after having made a base there. After finding an unconscious Luigi in the desert, he takes him as a prisoner to lure Mario to his base. Mario frees Luigi, but Popple soon attacks and introduces his new Rookie, Birdo, who had fallen hopelessly in love with him. Despite his new teammate, they still lose in battle, and Popple blames his defeat on Birdo. Birdo, heart-broken, knocks him through the wall. Popple is then sentenced to community service in Little Fungitown where he is last seen, with his supervisor ironically calling him Rookie.
Popple returns in the game's remake, where in the main story, he has the same role as the original game. Also, Popple appears in the Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser mode, where further backstory is revealed. It is shown that Popple trips on Bowser while stealing food in Hoohoo Village, causing the unconscious Koopa King to wake up and follow Popple. Soon after, Popple makes the amnesiac Bowser his Rookie. In Chucklehuck Woods, Popple momentarily loses sight of Rookie, and asks a group of Bowser's minions, led by Captain Goomba, where Rookie went off to. However, the minions intimidate Popple into a fight, which Popple loses. Rookie appears soon after, and despite Captain Goomba's attempts to bring his master back home, Rookie does not recognize his minions and burns Captain Goomba with his fire breath. The minions then leave.
Popple is later encountered again, now looking for a replacement for the missing Rookie (following the events with Mario and Luigi in Woohoo Hooniversity). Candidates for Rookie's replacement include Birdo, a Fighter Fly, a Beanie, a Paratroopea, and a Tanoomba. Popple sees Bowser's minions again and fights them, but is again defeated. Birdo, the only potential Rookie left, then takes Popple away.
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, 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'lloper's collection room again, this time from the back entrance, accessible through the northern ruins. He misinterprets a Wiggler, 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 and Birdo in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. He then forces Mario and Luigi into a battle against Wiggler by enraging it with insults. After the Bros. beat Wiggler, Popple suddenly turns against them, aiming to claim Pi'illoper's treasure for himself, but is quickly beaten by the Bros. Afterwards, he realizes Wiggler wasn't a security guard and continues to insult Wiggler and his aspirations, angered that he fought over a "stupid flower garden". Wiggler then chases Popple for insulting the flowers, and Popple declares he has had enough of this island. He is not seen again for the rest of the game.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
In the first battle against Popple, he is accompanied by 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 nets fifty more experience points and thirty more coins than if he had escaped.
To attack, Popple targets a single brother and either rams them or steals a Mushroom from them; if the latter hits, he heals either himself or Rookie with it on the next turn. Who he targets can be determined by watching his face; a grinning Popple will target Luigi, while a 'neutral' expression signals Mario. Determining his actual move depends on which type of counterattack is available: jumping means that Popple will tackle them, while hammers mean that Popple will steal from them.
The second time he is fought with Rookie, his moves remain the same until Rookie or himself loses about half of his HP, prompting them to start doing "Bros. Attacks" of their own, which always have Popple getting hurt, although he takes no damage. The first one has Rookie tossing Popple in the air, then jumping and grabbing him; he then piledrives Popple into the ground to create shock waves that need to be jumped over. The second one has Rookie light Popple on fire and swing him towards a brother, which has to be countered 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, but he will occasionally throw out a Poison Mushroom or 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. For the second move, Popple will turn his back to the Bros., with the same tell as his first two attacks (either a smile or his 'neutral' expression), before attempting to steal one of their hammers. This can be countered with the hammer, but if it isn't blocked, Popple will steal the hammer and use it against them. It also prevents that brother from using his hammer 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 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, with the exception of his loot toss attack. This, however, only applies to the original game, as he does use the attack in Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions. 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 Wiggler, but his acts put the Bros. in constant danger; some of them include angering Wiggler, 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 Wiggler to attack, but in some cases Popple shrugs off the blows. After Wiggler 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.
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