The Mushroom-Koopa Conflict (1985-Present)
It is difficult for historians to pinpoint the exact moment the Mushroom-Koopa Conflict began. Some say that it began with the first kidnapping of Princess Peach Toadstool, monarch of the Mushroom Kingdom. Some state that the intervention of the Mario Brothers was the beginning of the conflict. Some even argue that the mysterious death of King Toadstool I was where it began, accusing King “Bowser” Koopa of assassinating the late ruler.
Whatever the official beginning of the conflict was, there is no doubt that tensions between the Mushroom Kingdom and the Koopa dynasty were high in September 1985. The young Princess Toadstool was only a few months into her reign when reports came in of citizens being transformed into bricks and Goombas, with vast swaths of territory falling to the Koopa armies. By the time she received this information, however, it was too late, and she was surrounded and captured. King Koopa installed himself as ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom, fortifying his defenses across the land. By the end of the week, the Flag of Bowser was flying in front of every castle.
In the early morning hours of September 13th, however, a freak dimensional portal opened up in the sewers of New York City, worlds away from the conflict, transporting brothers Mario & Luigi into the outskirts of the Mushroom Kingdom. Plumbers by trade but accustomed to fighting Koopas (it is believed that in 1983, another dimensional portal opened up in the New York sewers, transporting several Koopa Troopas into the city while the Mario Bros. were on a routine plumbing job), the two single-handedly launched a campaign against King Koopa, overthrowing the would-be ruler in only a few short days. Following the reconstruction of the Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Toadstool thanked the Mario Brothers for rescuing her by making them her most trusted advisors and the Kingdom’s first line of defense.
Presumed dead, King Koopa went underground for about a year, until he resurfaced with a larger army in June 1986, studying the Mario Brothers’ skills and attacking accordingly. King Koopa was able to strengthen his offense and secure the Kingdom yet again, prepared for the Mario Brothers’ assault. While the battle was longer and more difficult this time around, Princess Toadstool was rescued once more and King Koopa was thwarted, disappearing for nearly two years.
After the Subcon Incursion of 1988, ambassadors from the surrounding kingdoms requested the Mario Brothers’ assistance, reporting mysterious ships spotted flying in the air. These would turn out to be the infamous Koopa Airships, flown not by Bowser but by a group known as “The Koopalings,” initially describing themselves as “the children of Bowser,” although King Koopa would later deny their relation. Nevertheless, acting under King Koopa’s orders, the Koopalings quickly captured seven kingdoms, deploying troops to various locations and transforming the monarchs into animals, via the theft of their coveted magic wands.
The Mario Brothers would heed the call and defeat the Koopalings, but this was merely a distraction for King Koopa’s primary goal: The Kidnapping of Princess Toadstool. With the Mario Brothers occupied by the Koopalings, Koopa Troopas were able to infiltrate Toadstool Castle and capture the Princess, a ransom letter sent to the Mario Brothers challenging them to find her.
Following the trail, the Mario Brothers discovered the long-searched-for lair of King Koopa, Bowser Castle. The pair fought off wave after wave of troops and artillery, reaching the castle and battling their way to King Koopa’s private chambers. Using his own strength against him, King Koopa fell several stories into the castle basement, surviving heavy injuries as Princess Toadstool was rescued for the third time in the conflict. Before he could be captured, however, King Koopa, along with the Koopalings, escaped in a recaptured airship, flying off to lands unknown.
After fighting in the 1989 Invasion of Sarasaland, Mario, Luigi and Princess Toadstool embarked on a vacation to Dinosaur Land, an archipelago previously undiscovered. Princess Toadstool went missing shortly after the trio landed, and it was soon realized that King Koopa and his troops had landed in Dinosaur Land following their escape from Bowser Castle. In the past two years, King Koopa conquered the land, capturing several inhabitants and building castles of his own design for the Koopalings to oversee. With his new territory secure, the newly-minted monarch thought that he was unbeatable this time. He was proven wrong, however, and his armies suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of the Mario Brothers, with the assistance of dinosaur T. Yoshisaur “Yoshi” Munchakoopas. After the rescue of Princess Toadstool deep within the Valley of Bowser, King Koopa escaped yet again, although for many in the Mushroom Kingdom, he was as good as dead.
The Koopas went quiet for many years after that. During that stretch of peace, the Mario Brothers and Princess Toadstool enjoyed some much needed leisure time. In 1990, shortly after his excursion to Dinosaur Land, Mario was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Mushroom University for his valiance (his brother Luigi received no such degree, sparking outrage from supporters). Mario took on several educational pursuits after that, such as teaching children to type, how to paint, historical events, go-karting and so on throughout the decade.
In 1992, just as Mario was recapturing his private island from political rival Wario, it is believed that Bowser Jr. was conceived and born, although his mother remains a mystery (a small faction of historians have argued that Princess Toadstool is the boy’s mother, believing her to be involved in an affair with King Koopa, but these claims have never been proven). After the birth of his son, despite being declared an enemy of the state, King Koopa slowly made his way back into the limelight, unsuccessfully capturing Mario himself in 1993 and opening a failed hotel chain in 1994.
In 1996, King Koopa infiltrated Toadstool Castle itself, utilizing the Princess’ magic to trap her within, challenging Mario to navigate the castle and rescue her. Fighting the occupying forces, Mario was able to successfully remove King Koopa from the castle grounds and free Princess Toadstool, causing him to retreat for several years.
In 2001, Mario was captured by King Boo, ally of King Koopa, although officially the two Kingdoms denied that there was collusion between the two rulers. Regardless, Luigi was able to save his brother from King Boo, and the two wouldn’t see further conflict until 2002, when the Defacing of Isle Delfino occured. Bowser Junior, disguised as “Shadow Mario,” heavily graffitied the island nation of Delfino, framing Mario by implication. Mario was sentenced to community service, but was able to exonerate himself and expose the Koopa Family’s plan. King Koopa would admit defeat (while vowing to fight Mario again) and allow Mario and the Princess to continue their vacation unabated.
After his defeat at Isle Delfino, King Koopa went quiet, until 2004, when he captured Mario and Luigi, with assistance from Amy, a member of the Hammer Brothers faction. Princess Toadstool took an active role for the first time since the Subcon Incursion, and single-handedly rescued the plumbers from Vibe Island, location of King Koopa’s summer home.
Mario would face King Koopa many more times in coming decade, some showing a severe deterioration of strategic skills, repeating the same tactics over and over, others showing almost genius levels of tactical knowledge. In 2007, an example of the latter occurred when King Koopa launched a surprise attack on the centennial Star Festival celebrations at Toadstool Castle, lifting the castle itself up from its foundations and into space. Kamek, an ally of King Koopa specializing in magic, launched Mario into space as well, confident that he would never be heard from again.
It was then that Mario encountered Rosalina, watcher of the stars, following a Koopa attack on her own Comet Observatory, located in a distant galaxy. Mario journeyed throughout the stars, eventually discovering the Center of the Universe, where King Koopa had fortified himself and the Princess. Nevertheless, the Princess was rescued, and King Koopa found himself defeated yet again. In 2010, King Koopa would attempt to conquer the Universe for a second time, but failed when Mario received the Starship Mario, allowing him to storm King Koopa’s fortress and restore peace to the galaxy.
In 2013, King Koopa instead kidnapped the Sprixie Princesses, a small race of fairies, in an attempt to capture their power. Fighting together for the first time since the Subcon Incursion, Mario, Luigi, the Princess and her trusted advisor Toad embarked on a mission to save the Sprixies, journeying deep into Koopa-occupied territory and declaring victory upon King Koopa’s inevitable defeat.
A few skirmishes would occur in the next few years, but largely King Koopa would remain dormant, preparing for his next, arguably greatest assault. In 2017, Princess Toadstool would be captured once more, not for ransom, but for marriage. In a stunning bid for the Mushroom throne, King Koopa intended to force the Princess into marrying him, thereby making him a legitimate ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom. Furthering his goals were Koopa agents across the globe, secretly installed in several major cities for the sole purpose of securing King Koopa’s place on the throne. This proved to be Mario’s toughest challenge yet, as King Koopa had taken Princess Toadstool to the Moon for their wedding, but the plumber prevailed, stopping the wedding and leaving the deposed monarch on the lunar surface.
The Koopa Kingdom has since declared King Koopa to be unfit to rule, on account of being stranded on the Moon, leaving the throne to its sole heir, Bowser Jr. The Koopaling Council has also released its claims on much of their territory, beginning peace negotiations with the Mushroom Kingdom in King Koopa’s stead. There were even plans to hold the 2020 Olympics in the Mushroom Kingdom, as tensions died down, but this fell through when Tokyo, Japan put in the higher bid. Unsurprisingly, Mario still stated a desire to perform in the 2020 Olympics, having done so from 2008 to 2016.
Most analysts favor Sonic, though.