Bit characters. You see them once, poof! They’re gone! Off they go, into the depths of cyberspace, or, for me, somewhere in the back of my memory card. Cartridge, sorry. Even cartridge gamers learn the benefits of memory cards after awhile.

Moving on…

The Mario series has more than its fair share of bit characters. They are, by-the-by, games for children—the more characters there are, the more people you can talk to. Enemies become bit characters. Bit characters reappear from old games. Boos, Koopas, Toads, even frogs (quite an animalistic game, isn’t it?) get their chance to talk to the strangely silent hero. And carry on his side of the conversation, if need be.

Please tell me I’m not the only person who goes through and talks to everybody, then goes back later and talks to everyone again after plot progression?

They even send you on mini-quests. Take, for example, Koopa Koot, of Paper Mario and Koopa Village fame. Or perhaps I should say infamy. Content to keep the name of his species rather than creating original last names, he spends his time thinking up devious and underhanded ways to convince others to do his bidding. And he’s old. You can’t say no to old people—that’s worse than kicking kittens. He sends you out to the middle of a haunted forest for a hallucinogenic fungus, the scorching desert to fetch an urn that he surely could have obtained by t-mail (Troopa mail), and for all your work you rarely obtain anything more valuable than a coin. It’s like buying Grandad a rug from Istanbul, which you had to walk to or occasionally take a bus, and receiving for your efforts a crisp dollar bill and a pat on the back. Grendel’s mommy he isn’t, but as far as hoarding stuff goes, you can’t quite beat the rush of having someone else do it for you.

The sheer undeniable addiction that results in and spawns this crap would make anyone a little nutty. Somewhere between the twelfth errand and the last, the gamer begins to have quite alluring thoughts of turtle soup or turtle steak. I myself am quite prone to bouts of impotent rage at the travesty set up before me, the constant reminder that not only am I codependent in real life, but I’m trapped in that mindset in my games as well. Hello, games are supposed to get me away from all this crap, right? ….Right?

We all hold fond thoughts of skinning a bit character and making origami out of their epidermis. For the less dexterous, impulses may run a bit more hack-and-slash, with miscellaneous organs and the occasional kidney splattering a previously gore-free screen. Of course, what with said bit characters generally not being too hefty in the flesh department, we end up having to vacuum up tiny bits of paper ripped liberally out of the player’s guide.

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