To say Mario is no stranger to spinoffs is like saying there’s something a little off about Luigi – it’s not only obvious but also incredibly understated. From teaching typing to playing doctor, kart racing, and even beating up his friends and family in Smash, the little plumber’s reach knows few bounds.

Given just how far and wide the Mario games have spread, we have to wonder: what would a Grand Theft Mario look like? Sure, Super Mario Odyssey is already fairly open world, but it hardly operates under the same scheme as Rockstar’s flagship series.

We spent an afternoon thinking about this idea, and this is what we came up with.

Story

This might sound crazy but bear with us. What if, and this is just hypothetical mind you, what if Bowser kidnapped Princess Peach? As ridiculous as this sounds, it could easily work as a basis for getting Mario out of the house, and into the world of Mushroom Kingdom and beyond.

Along the way Mario would meet a whole host of friends and rivals, gaining their trust, and experiencing the betrayals of the likely suspects.

You know the pattern by now, and as in every modern Mario game, the strength would have to lie in how the classic tale is told, not in the most basic overall structure.

Gameplay

The gameplay is the real strength of Mario, and this is where the real opportunities lie.

At the least, the player would need access to Mario’s full repertoire of moves, including long jumps, high jumps, wall jumps, and butt stomps.

In terms of weapons, all the usual suspects could make appearances, from the classic fireball up to Cappy and his infinite bizarre forms. This could also allow us to bring back some of the underrated and forgotten about power-ups from yesteryear. 

Bring back the SMB3 Tanooki suit so we can practice our Dodo like flying again, or bring in Wario’s Cap that we might be disgusted at how badly Mario let himself go.

Of course, no GTA game would be complete without grand thefting autos, and this is another area where Mario could shine. With decades of kart games to choose from, getting around in a Grand Theft Mario game could be amazing, with all the shortcuts and boosts which make these games special. Include all of the kart power-ups, and maybe even translate more traditional power-ups into the karting mode, and we’d have even more to play with.

We could also enter open casinos like recently introduced in GTA Online. This is hardly without precedent in Mario, as the likes of NSMB for DS and many others have had gambling mini games for years. They might not be able to measure up to real casino online games in terms of slot variety and actual money, but at very least they’d be able to match the different games of roulette, poker, and other jackpot games.

Speaking of online, given the success of GTA Online, it seems that this is an area far too promising to miss. Allow us to create our own original characters (do not steal) from Mario archetypes, from mushroom dudes to Yoshis, to whatever Waluigi is supposed to be.

Buy properties around the Mushroom Kingdom and its connected worlds, go cruising with your friends and get hunted down by a team of angry fire-throwing suns. There’s a lot of potential for mass-player carnage here, as recent massively multiplayer fan-games have illustrated.

As much as we love the idea of Grand Theft Mario, we can’t imagine the game realistically finding its way to our shelves anytime soon. Nintendo is a developer which focussed on very contained and deliberate experiences with their main entries, after all, and GTA is a series which thrives on carnage.

Also, the name of Grand Theft Mario probably wouldn’t work, as stealing and driving Mario’s doesn’t make sense. But then, that’s what we said about a plumber with a medical degree racing a hedgehog at the Olympics.

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