Tanooki Mario (Nintendo)The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals might be barking up the wrong mushroom.
On Monday, the controversial organization issued a press release attacking iconic Nintendo mascot Mario for wearing a 'Tanooki' suit in his latest adventure, the Nintendo 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land, which hit shelves on Sunday.
"Tanooki may be just a "suit" in Mario games, but by wearing the skin of an animal, Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur," PETA says.
The raccoon-like suit, which grants Mario the ability to glide across the screen, has been a part of the franchise since first appearing as a power-up in 1988's Super Mario Bros. 3. In the new game, Mario acquires the suit not by doing something lousy to a Tanooki, but by snagging a Super Leaf.
Still, PETA insists this encourages animal abuse.
"Tanukis are real-life raccoon dogs who are beaten and, as PETA's undercover exposés show, often skinned alive for their fur," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "This winter, everyone can give raccoon dogs and other fabulous animals a 1-UP by keeping our wardrobes fur-free."
To help prove their point, PETA has even commissioned a crude parody video game called "Super Tanooki Skin 2D" in which players try to re-capture their skin from a flying Mario (Warning: Kind of disturbing, and totally not fun.)
It's just the latest in a long line of PETA game complaints. In 2008 they went after Cooking Mama for not being a vegetarian, while just last year they parodied challenging downloadable platform hit Super Meat Boy for starring a piece of raw meat.
Nintendo has yet to comment, though we're pretty sure it will sound like a hand slapping a forehead.
UPDATE: Nintendo has now responded, via Eurogamer:
"Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games. These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself. These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play. The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves."