In Nintendo’s world of Mario, many characters have been created. These characters have ranged from extremely popular (such as Yoshi) and those who have amassed a cult following (such as Waluigi). The princesses of Mushroom Kingdom, Peach and Daisy, have appeared to hover around the middle of the popularity spectrum so to speak. One princess introduced to Mario fans in 2007 has taken the hearts of fans. This princess is Rosalina. The Internet is littered with fan art, discussion forums, and positive critical reception for her. Nintendo has responded by inserting Rosalina in many of the games after the release of Super Mario Galaxy, including the sequel, Mario Karts for the Wii, 3DS, and Wii U, Mario Golf: World Tour, Super Mario 3D World, and soon the be Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS/Wii U. Though the adoration by Nintendo fans is apparent, what makes this cosmic character so appealing?
The inspiration for Rosalina came from Nintendo mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto stated in an interview that he had planned the kidnapping of Princess Peach in Super Mario Galaxy, but also, “had another cast of characters… who had a deeper, sadder story.” Her creation arose from video game designer’s Yoshiaki Koizumi’s desire to tell a story in a Mario Game along with Miyamoto wanting to introduce new characters to the Mario series.
Rosalina’s popularity can be attributed in part to the fact of the lack of new characters in Mario since the beginning of the new millennium. Apart from Waluigi introduced in Mario Tennis and Bowser Jr. gaining more traction in Mario games with his introduction as a main villain in Super Mario Sunshine, no prominent figure has been introduced to the franchise. Additionally, the creation of a female character who is more than a damsel in distress or athlete in the Mario sports spin-offs gave a character female Nintendo fans could be drawn to.
Another one of the (probably not so great) reasons for her infatuation with fans is her physical appearance. Rosalina has won many awards from gaming critics that might seem… odd to say the least. These include “celestial hottie” and being ranked in the 40 hot but forgotten female characters in video games. These of course might be better than comments and joke made about the other two princesses. For example, a common joke for Peach questions her relationship to Bowser due to the frequency of her abductions and the amount of Bowser’s children (8 if you include Bowser Jr.). All those kids have a mother, right? Or is Bowser some incredible, mutant koopa who can divide by mitosis?
Probably of the elements that attract players to Rosalina, the most significant is her story book in Super Mario Galaxy. Throughout the game, new chapters of Rosalina’s Storybook are unlocked as the player accumulates power stars with the last two chapters unlocked upon defeating Bowser in the center of the universe. These chapters can be read by visiting the library in the Comet Observatory. The story gives the background of Rosalina and how she became guardian of the Lumas and constructed the observatory. This story is crafted and illustrated by Koizumi drawing comparisons to novels such as The Little Prince and My Neighbor Totoro. Koizumi was happy to craft this story, stating in an interview “for a long time, it really felt like telling a story in a Mario game wasn’t allowed.” For those who have played this Mario title, it is both a somber and heartwarming tale about the origin of Rosalina. It is a good example of how Koizumi has crafted intricate stories throughout his game design career in a simplistic manner.
Likely a combination of the reasons stated, Rosalina has been a smashing hit with Nintendo fans. She offers more than Peach has in past titles (though Peach is transitioning into a role of a playable character more often now). Additionally, her origin story creates a character audiences can sympathize with and adds more to the experience in Super Mario Galaxy. Rosalina’s abilities have also struck a chord with female players by giving them a powerful and playable female character. Nintendo has done right by crafting a new princess and should continue to insert her in titles due to the response fans have had to Rosalina.