Who knew Nintendo would bring back Pauline in a mainline game, Mario's first damsel in distress, well it's happening. After Nintendo unveiled their trailer for Super Mario Odyssey at E3, one familiar name which kept popping up during Mario Odyssey's segment was "Pauline", the mayor of New Donk City.
So who exactly is Pauline and what's her backstory? Like everything in New Donk City, Pauline is a character with strong ties to the Donkey Kong franchise — and you've for certain already heard her jazzy vocals as her melody is Oddessy's main theme song. Pauline was Mario’s primary love interest from Donkey Kong and she's finally back after a long hiatus.
Before Princess Peach, Daisy or any of Mario's other love interests, there was Pauline who first appeared in the original Donkey Kong game from 1981. Though unlike nearly all of Mario's main squeezes, Pauline is not a princess in any shape or form. She's just your run of the mill, yet ridiculously-attractive helpless maiden who also happens to sing.
Over three decades ago she was trapped atop steel beams waiting for "the plumber" to rescue her, though in 2017, Pauline has risen to the highest political position in New Donk City, the fictional citified backdrop for Super Mario Odyssey.
Pauline's character design in Super Mario Odyssey is similar to her later game appearances in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, rather than her primary Peach-like appearance in the original Donkey Kong. It's no secret that Nintendo EPD has been on a roll lately with their sexualized character designs and Pauline is no exception.
Comparing Pauline from Mario Vs.Donkey Kong to her Super Mario Odyssey counterpart see's a modern makeover that is beyond sexy. Nintendo EPD has taken full advantage of Nintendo Switch's full power and transformed Pauline into one of Super Mario's hottest female characters to date, stand aside Rosalina and eat your heart out.
There's no denying that Pauline's redesign has always been eye candy, but in Super Mario Oddssey she looks ten times better. How? Well for one, maybe you didn't notice but she's filled up in all the right places. Pauline looks curvy in that glamorous red dress and her hair is longer in length. Not to mention she now wears a stylish floppy sun hat. Could Pauline possibly be one of Mario's thickest human characters in the series?
There was always something attractive about Pauline which stood out, only her lack of relevancy made it pretty hard for anyone to care about her , though that changes with Super Mario Oddessy and rightfully so. Pauline has been given the ultimate make over and whether she's wearing formal clothes or a long dress, this woman still manages to turn heads.
The Nintendo Switch's capabilities really bring out the shine in Pauline's large blue eyes, soft milky skin, her shiny gold accessories and silky sleek hair. Don't forget the increased bust size which appear more natural compared to her previous look. Once again we must applaud Nintendo EPD for managing to normalise proportions and features; to fall in line with the Mario-series character design aspect.
Not only is she a wide hipped dime, but Pauline is tall in height and looks like a giantess standing next to little ole Mario, even when imagined without her stylish black heels. While Pauline has always been long-legged and lanky compared to Mario, there's something about Pauline in Super Mario Oddessy that makes her appear larger than life.
Even as a Goomba Pauline is absolutely stunning, as witnessed in the new Nintendo direct trailer. Mario is seen attempting to reach a female goomba whose standing on a hard to reach platform with his special ability.This appears to be Pauline, how so? Well the Goomba is wearing Pauline's signature sun hat. She is also slightly pink in hue with feminine features.
In a way, morphing Mario's original damsel in distress into a figure with significant political power is an amusing inversion of a beaten trope. Nearly everything in New Donk City — from street names to the jerry-built shops is named after something from Donkey Kong's lore, so it's cool to see Nintendo reference those old bits and bobs into something fresh and exciting.
There are posters of Pauline on every street corner, ceremonial parks named after her and stickers featuring the city manager which are able to be bought with coins. The city of New Donk worships the ground Pauline walks on and who could possibly blame them? She's a larger than life celebrity with great assets and a powerful voice.
While it's great she's back, Pauline hasn’t been a relevant character since Mario vs. Donkey Kong 3: Minis March Again! in 2009. When asked by a fan about her role in Odyssey during a Reddit AMA, producer Yoshiaki Koizumi stated they desired to give players something familiar to focus on while in an unusual setting.
Pauline has a prominent role in Super Mario Odyssey that extends beyond New Donk City. Koizumi confirmed that it was through Pauline's development that they came up with a explanation for Odyssey’s theme song, "Let's Do the Odyssey" / "I'll Be Your 1-Up Girl.” It’s the first to include vocalisms in a Super Mario game, according to Koizumi.
Pauline was landing roles for each new game back in the day, from the Game Boy port to a pinball spin-off, just to rationalise the lunacy surrounding Mario and Donkey Kong’s endeavour. It wouldn't be until the Saturday Superarcade cartoon series that she was given a speaking role and allowed to participate in the crazy antics surrounding her and Mario’s relationship, but then nothing.
For more than a decade Pauline disappeared from the big screen and was seemingly forgotten about. Nintendo had ditched her for Princess Toadstool just like they substituted Donkey Kong for Bowser with the debut of the NES and Super Mario Bros.
It wasn’t until Nintendo revitalized Mario and Donkey Kong’s neck and neck rivalry with the Mario vs. Donkey Kong franchise that Pauline, still known as that plumber’s first lover, reemerged. Although like before, it wasn’t nothing more than a background role. Even Peach was given the chance to grow and prosper in Super Mario Bros. 2 and the excess Mario spin-offs that would continue during the Super Nintendo epoch and forever after.
Pauline was still bound to be abducted and caged game after game until eventually in Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move she reached something on the level of the freedom attained by Donkey Kong Country’s Candy Kong several years before in Donkey Kong 64. Instead of being captured, she was upgraded to mini-game hostess.
No Samus Aran or Princess Zelda, but being Mario vs. Donkey Kong’s host was arguably progression of some sort, progression that probably would have taken decades to get anywhere significant.
However, Pauline has made a surprising comeback in Super Mario Odyssey as the mayor of New Donk City, she’s upgraded her wardrobe and appears to be more preoccupied with aiding her flourishing city on top a city than being used as bait for Mario and his enemies.
Does this mean that Pauline will finally be given the opportunity to appear in Mario's spin-offs as a playable character in Mario Kart or Mario Party? Who knows beside Nintendo, but one thing we do know is that the future is certainly looking bright for Mario's former love interest and once neglected Nintendo character.