Super Mario Bros. 2: Pity Poor Pidgit

There’s a lot to enjoy in Super Mario Bros. 2. It took all things Mario from a revolutionary but straightforward action game to an endearing cartoon adventure, imbuing the simple characters with the seeds of personality that turn a mere video game into a pop-culture smash. To this day, even the best Mario creations feel a touch lacking if they don’t let you control Luigi, Princess Peach, and some version of Toad alongside Mario himself. 

One thing I always enjoyed about Super Mario Bros. 2 was its comparatively pacifist approach to enemies. You can jump atop them and harmlessly ride them, and if you pick them up and toss them, they’ll suffer damage only when they collide with each other or some hazard. Throw them on the ground, and most of the Super Mario Bros. 2 foes will just trudge off, sent thoughtfully on their way with perhaps just a little more wariness about meddling with plumbers and royalty.  

Not every enemy is so lucky. Consider Pidgit, a crow-like creature that appears riding a magic carpet. I describe him only as crow-like because unlike real-world corvids, he cannot fly. The game’s manual explains that chief evildoer Wart gave Pidgit these carpets to compensate for their stubby wings and so that they may fly around bringing bad dreams to all.  

First appearing in the second stage, the common Pidgit floats above the players and darts down. The idea is to leap upon him, pick him up, and steal his carpet to cross a large chasm. You can chuck Pidgit at enemies or just throw him into space, but what if you want to spare him and set him down unhurt upon solid ground?  

Well, you can’t. If you lob Pidgit at any surface, he’ll pass right through and presumably fall into oblivion. The designers of Super Mario Bros. 2 either neglected to code any environmental collision detection into Pidgit or just deemed him unfit for the player’s clemency.  

That’s enough to make me feel a little sorry for Pidgit. I’m sure that, like Opus in Bloom Country, Pidgit long envied birds capable of flight and was overjoyed at getting his own flying carpet. Just look at how happy he looks atop his little aerial conveyance.  

And you, the player, took that from him. Perhaps he plummets through the ground of his own accord, choosing a quick demise over life without flying.

So what if he’s there to deliver bad dreams? Even nightmares have their purposes, and I’m sure there’s some quote from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to illustrate that only through bad dreams can we appreciate good ones.  

At least Pidgit was not left behind among Mario enemies. Unlike Ostro, Flurry, or the vastly underappreciated Porcupo, Pidgit followed up his Super Mario Bros. 2 appearance with spots in Super Mario World’s secret mode, Wario’s Woods, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, and other game. Even if he can’t survive the game without that flying carpet, the unfortunate Pidgit bounced back in other ways.  

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