Once upon a time, SquareSoft (now known as Square-Enix) had a rock-solid relationship with Nintendo. A lot of people think their relationship was damaged when SquEnix had partnered with Sony to enter the world of CD gaming, while Nintendo was slated to launch yet another console (the N64) with cartidges.
Sometime before the tragic breakup, yet just before the N64 and its generation of consoles were released, Nintendo and SquareSoft came together to create an absolute masterpiece of a video game called Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Y’know how people say Adele’s album “21” (y’know, the one that won every award ever and grossed ten metric shitloads of dollars) was inspired by some catastrophic breakup with her boyfriend? That’s exactly the way I imagine Mario RPG came to be. SquareSoft and Nintendo met up one last time before breaking up, turned the lights down low, slowly poured a few glasses of red wine, and had the most outrageous breakup sex imaginable – and the lovechild that was left in the dust was a turn-based RPG set in the Mushroom Kingdom with some of the most vibrant characters, memorable worlds, and epic boss fights the Mario franchise has ever seen.
For once, Mario wasn’t just fighting to save the princess, and for once – he wasn’t fighting alone. Mario would first team up with two completely new characters, Mallow and Geno, before enlisting the support of Princess Peach herself, and eventually – Bowser. Yes, that’s right, the evil plaguing the Mushroom Kingdom was so great that the King of Koopas himself decided that there could only be one evil genius in the world – and if he couldn’t have his castle, no one could. Imagine that shit for a second. Mario and Bowser, putting foot-to-ass for the Mushroom Kingdom, burying their hatchet (if only for a time) because some catastrophically powerful and overwhelmingly evil force threatened to destroy their home. Since when has any Mario game (or even a Nintendo game) ever come close to as epic of a team up as that? I’ll tell you when – never.
Back to Mallow and Geno – these two were the two brand-new protagonists that would fight alongside Mario in SMRPG. Mallow is a decidedly un-frog-like creature, but believed himself to be the son of a great Martial Arts-practicing frog, until his entire world came crashing down with the revelation that he’s actually the son of a royal family of cloud people (yes, the clouds with eyes in the Mario universe are sentient, and are ruled by a monarchy, apparently). And then there was Geno. Man. Geno was the coolest to me when I was a kid, and he still is. Geno is actually a guardian spirit from Star Road, who was sent down by whoever the “Higher Power” is to stop the game’s main villain from destroying Star Road forever.
Geno’s spirit is sent to inhabit a child’s action figure, whose small built-in projectile launcher turns into a giant hand cannon when he gains consciousness. Geno could later be equipped with bigger, badder weaponry – including a cannonball that shot from his elbow, rapid-fire bullets that shot from his fingertips, and he could even transform his entire body into a giant cannon, launching huge projectiles at his enemies. Geno could also call upon the powers of Star Road to shoot discs and beams of destructive radiant light, which would obliterate enemies. There was truly nothing else like it. Geno originally intends to work alone, but learns a lot from the party in the game, and demonstrates true heroics and fearlessness in the face of insurmountable odds. Geno’s sense of duty and responsibility to protect the Star Road illustrates him as somewhat of a counterpart to Mario, as they are both the sworn protectors of their own homes, and both of them would travel to the ends of the world (which is literally put to the test in the game) to save them.
This brings us to today, where tragically, Mallow and Geno have yet to be seen again. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars’ release, and Nintendo has still merely given us teases and tastes of the thought of Geno ever returning to their consoles or handhelds again. Geno’s likeness was seen during a mini-game in a Mario & Luigi title, and his outfit recently became available for Mii Fighters to wear in Super Smash Bros… But other than that, nothing. These little gestures feel more like slaps to the faces than anything else, and I personally find it difficult to believe that SquareEnix won’t allow Nintendo the rights to Geno (who is technically their IP), when they’ve already featured Cloud in Smash Bros., as well as licensed over 90 of their games to Nintendo consoles and handhelds over the last 15 years.
So what’s the deal, Nintendo? What’s up, SquareEnix? Where is Geno? I for one refuse to rest until this incredible hero makes his triumphant return, and I urge all of you to flood Nintendo and SquareEnix’s mentions/DMs with #WheresGeno until he’s given his due.
So let’s do this. Go hashtag #WheresGeno, put up “Have You Seen Me” posters, do whatever you gotta do, and follow us on Twitter at @WickedGoodGames while you’re at it. Let’s work together to bring one of Mario’s coolest allies back into the fold.