Controversial animal-rights activist group PETA is slamming video game giant Nintendo and their popular plumber Mario.
In “Super Mario 3D Land,” released this weekend, one of Mario's power-ups is a Tanooki suit giving the ability to jump and glide across the screen.
Tanookis are Japanese raccoon dogs. They are featured heavily in ancient Japanese folklore as mischievous masters of disguise and shape shifters.
Although the suit more closely resembles a baby’s jumper than a fur, PETA said Mario is sending the wrong message to gamers.
"Tanookis are real-life raccoon dogs who are beaten and, as PETA's undercover exposés show, often skinned alive for their fur," said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "This winter, everyone can give raccoon dogs and other fabulous animals a [one-up] by keeping our wardrobes fur-free."
"By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur,” said PETA’s website.
The consensus on the Internet: PETA is overreacting.
“To be honest, I get the feeling that it's just a couple of idiots up at the top that keeps doing this sort of thing. The rest of them are probably more than fine people that work to take care of animals,” said one user on an anime forum. “It's unfortunate that there are people more interested in publicity, rather than their actual cause.”
Some gaming professionals felt the PETA protest might backfire and go in Nintendo’s favor, an unintended marketing tactic.
“PETA is a well-known foundation setup to protect the rights of all animals,” said gaming blogger Matthew Humphries on Geek.com. “However, some of their tactics for doing so are questionable (which other animal rights organization is launching its own porn site?), even if they do end up getting the group a lot of coverage in the press.”
“While this is sure to get PETA some healthy coverage,” Humphries added. “I think their efforts would do more good targeting those who actually purchase the raccoon fur in the first place and then the stores that stock it.”
“Super Mario 3D Land” was released in Japan Nov. 3, and in North America Nov. 13, and will hit Europe and Australia later this month.