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ShadokatRegn avatar 5:22 PM on 04.20.2009  (server time)
Those About To Die: The Princess

One of the most ongoing epidemics in video games for generations has been the Missing Princess Syndrome. Your princess has been abducted by a rather unsavory character, and you're on a mission to rescue her from an uncertain fate, thus proving your chivalrous adventuring attitude. Only, your princess doesn't stay saved. She's always in another castle, kidnapped by the evil sorcerer, or simply eluding your manly touch.

Let us now find the long lost princess, or condemn her to a fate with a giant snapping turtle. To those Princesses about to die...

She's in another castle...

Abducted by monkeys, and giant snapping turtles is the very royal Damsel in Distress, Princess Peach. She has been destined to be rescued by our favorite plumber on repeat for over two decades. She even gets two different abductors, to add a bit of variety to the rescue missions.

Before he became a good croc-stomping-monkey guy, Donkey Kong had "King Kong" syndrome, instilling a strange desire to steal a girl, and throw barrels at her plumbing rescuer. Once Mario reaches the top of a vertical maze, his generic princess (currently "Pauline") will be rescued, then stolen many times in a single sitting. Thus, making me wish the monkey would just get it over with already!

In Mario specific titles, the Princess now dubbed "Peach" lives in a far away castle, guarded by a single toadstool henchman - which makes her constant abduction by mutant snapping turtle Bowser, and his army of Koopa turtles, a certainty. Bowser's goal is the same as any other mutant snapping turtle, except maybe Tokka, he aims to kidnap the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom to steal her throne.

It's never completely clear what Bowsers intentions post-kidnapping are, presumably marriage since that's how that whole Monarchy thing works. I'd almost call Princess Peaches story one of vanity, where the big ugly turtle gets denied because of his looks. But, the hero is Mario, so that theory doesn't really hold water.

Thus is born the Princess in Peril stereotype.

She's not that interested...

Of course, as games began to demand variety and political correctness, the focus went from "Save the Princess" to "Save the Kingdom, there may be a Princess in it for you."

She can use telepathy, yet is still completely helpless.

Which brings us to the most notorious princess, holding the game franchise name, rather than her pretty-boy knight in not-so-shining armor, Princess Zelda. The palaces Royal Sorcerer, Gannon/Gannondorf/Agahnim will stop at nothing to steal the throne, either using a powerful spell that requires Princess Zelda to be sacrificed, or by kidnapping a usually-under-aged girl as a bride. Princess Zelda will always play a part in Gannons plot, and somehow the commoner boy in green, Link, is always roped into rescuing her.

By the end of each game, after rescuing said princess, she gives you her thanks and maybe a piece of the mythical Tri-Force - yet somehow, Link has yet to officially be made a prince. Simply restoring a Monarchy that frowns on the poor fairy-folk seems like such a gyp. Once again, wishing ill on the princess that won't properly reward her rescuer, or at least stay out of danger!

She wore her hair down to there...

Now let us fast forward in time to the present, with arcade games taking center stage in the gaming market. The cryptically named arcade game Braid has an elusive princess for the main character, dubbed Tom to alter time to find. Unwinding the story of how his princess with braided hair, left him, and he has to quest to find her again.

Where have we heard this before. Oh, right.

I think this brings us full circle with time travel and Princesses. Now, wake me up when my knight in shining overalls shows up just in the nick of time.

How many princesses have to almost-die before we give this tradition a rest?

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