The 'Shroom:Issue XXXIX/Special Section

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Special Section

by Grandy02 (talk)

You probably know about Wrecking Crew, an NES puzzle game starring Mario and Luigi released in 1985. As the last NES Mario game released prior to Super Mario Bros., it introduced enemies such as Foreman Spike and the Eggplant Man. But unlike the famous ever‐recurring cast of Super Mario Bros., these have rarely been seen since then.

Wrecking Crew '98 box art

However, this article is not about the Wrecking Crew enemies as you might have expected. Did you know that a sequel to the game was released in Japan for the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo) in 1998? It is titled Wrecking Crew ’98 and features a variety of characters. All enemies of Wrecking Crew appear as both opponents in the story mode and as and playable characters in the two‐player mode. Three characters from Super Mario Bros. are also added to the roster, including Princess Peach and Bowser. Most of the characters have to be unlocked before they become playable in two‐player mode, which usually requires beating them in story mode. But there are also four unlockable characters not found in any other Mario game.

The first character of the quartet is easily the most bizarre. It is an oversized Onigiri that has come to life! Commonly known as rice balls in English, onigiri are often found in Japanese popular culture. That also includes some games of the Mario series, such as WarioWare: D.I.Y., where a giant rice ball is seen in the microgame “Rice Stuffed.”

Another unlockable character is called Onnanoko. Being Japanese for “little girl,” her name essentially tells us what she looks like: a little girl dressed in red and white and wearing a bow on her head. Less ordinary is her ability to magically wreck walls without the use of a hammer or another tool. This and her losing pose that portrays her as an angel imply that she might actually be a spirit of sorts.

In contrast to the previous characters, the third one is an ordinary man who goes by the name of Oyaji. His name literally means “father” in Japanese, but is also a colloquial term for a middle aged man. Unsurprisingly, Oyaji appears as generic bearded guy who is mainly dressed in white and green. He uses a pick rather than a hammer for wrecking walls.

When all of the three aforementioned characters have been unlocked, it is possible to challenge the last one, Dogu. A dogū is a clay figure from Japanese prehistory. The most common form is the shakōkidogū, and the Wrecking Crew ’98 character is based on such a figure, appearing as a bulky humanoid creature with (almost) closed googly eyes. The clay figure barely moves its body parts and apparently travels by magic. An inanimate dogū has been seen as a treasure in Virtual Boy Wario Land. The Pokémon fans among you might remember Baltoy and Claydol – yes, they are based on the ancient clay figures, too.

As stated above, none of those characters has reappeared in another game, and their obscurity makes a return unlikely. Furthermore, Wrecking Crew ’98 has yet to be released on Virtual Console in Japan. But seriously, who wouldn’t want to compete in kart races and tennis matches as a rice ball? ;-)