Last week’s release of Super Mario Bros. 2 on Virtual Console — the real Mario 2, not that crummy fake Japanese one, as discussed at length on the new Retronauts — sparked a small flurry of postings at various gaming blogs about how Birdo is the medium’s first true transgendered character and a hero to GLBT gamers everywhere. She was described in the Japanese manual as a rather confused male, but recent game literature pegs her as, well, her.
They all seemed so earnest I didn’t have the heart to tell them that Birdo’s always been a female named Catherine in Japan. The cross-dressing thing (and the name Birdo) is a bizarre concoction of Nintendo’s U.S. division. Bizarre in the sense that NES-era Nintendo was terrified of allowing anything remotely questionable in its games, and it’s hard to imagine who might have decided that gender-bending would play in Peoria while crosses on gravestones wouldn’t.
Sorry, guys, or girls, or some combination thereof! Will you settle for Flea instead?