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Thoughts on Charli XCX's Super Nintendo World collaboration

In the acid trip of a music video, Nintendo portrays a more jarring vision of its new theme park than it perhaps hoped to.

by Jenna Mahale
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14 January 2020, 6:26pm

Image via Nintendo

Charli XCX has been pushing the frontiers of pop for a while now, collaborating with some of the most inventive up-and-comers on the scene to produce music that’s emotional, unforgettable, and absolutely drenched in synth. Her PC Music-produced 2019 album ‘Charli’ was her most transgressive effort to date -- that is, until now.

Together with the Swedish house duo Galantis, Charli presents “We Are Born To Play”, a buoyant electro track produced for Super Nintendo World, a new theme park set to open as a part of Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The song was previewed today as a music video, seemingly to give fans their first taste of the park, but in reality in order to delight and confuse them enough to post their functionally unusable “#WE ARE MARIO!!” hashtag.

The fever dream begins in -- where else -- outer space, as we watch a ruggedly handsome astronaut tap away at his Nintendo Switch. We then pivot to a family of six, a woman killing time in some sort of office, and a young couple on a bus. Chaos reigns.

Consider: the destruction to public property
When a deafening rumble sounds and giant green pipes begin rising randomly from the ground, the couple are the only people in this situation who react appropriately -- with sheer terror across their faces, though this moment of sanity is short-lived, as it quickly dissolves into inexplicable joy.

“I wanna burn like fire tonight,” sings Charli, and the self-destructive sentiment proves infectious as every player makes their way into the enormous tubes, one of which has forced a car to tightly manoeuvre around it. It’s a miracle no one was killed (as far as we know).

It’s-a him!
We are transported to, ostensibly, Super Nintendo World. Koopas and Goombas abound, no matter that they are the villains of this world, and everyone is thrilled. And then -- the man of the hour, the vigilante plumber himself makes an appearance.

Mario zooms across several rows of levitating bricks, looking back and flashing a cheeky smile to his fans (and the camera, but let’s be real, does the fourth wall even exist at this point??) before speeding onwards. “Mamma mia!” the glance appears to say, “I didn’t see you there!’, his inherent cocksuredness is made tangible.

The music takes a turn for the nostalgic here, interweaving the classic, bopping Super Mario theme into the break down. The crowd of players begin to run as red Mario hats begin to materialise onto their heads. From what? To what? No one knows.

It’s Charli, baby
The game has begun when Charli herself appears, a veritable vision in a high ponytail and a hot pink tulle get-up. Clutching a turret atop Princess Peach’s castle, she surveys the Nintendo empire, smiling next to Toad. I mean, can you name a more iconic duo?

However, the implication that Charli XCX now exists as part of the Nintendo canon is a heavy blow to our collective perception of reality. How long has she been friends with Toad? Will she appear as a playable character on Smash Bros? What will this mean for her upcoming tour?

Let’s talk about that drop
“Here we go!” caws Mario, as the beat drops and the music dissolves into thrumming synth rhythms. It’s the sound you hear right before you embark on your Super Mario journey -- it’s the voice that’s echoed through a million childhoods. And now it’s immortalised in a certified banger co-signed by Charli and produced by Galantis. Has there ever been a more jarring yet bizarrely satisfying sound-bite in the history of man? Almost certainly not.

The… danger?
There is a degree of secondhand anxiety you feel for the players if you repeat-view this video too many times, which I quite clearly have done. You just don’t think about the fact that Mario and his friends are constantly coming up against near-death experiences until someone puts real human bodies in their place.

The players, running together in a herd, speed towards the star-shaped power-ups ahead of them, narrowly escaping being crushed by Thwomps, which are colossal anthropomorphic stone cubes edged with spikes. On Super Mario Wiki, one such Thwomp is quoted as saying, “Rats, I missed! Oh, I hate it when I miss!” which tells you everything you need to know about the psychopathy of this frighteningly evil rock.

What follows after -- Bowser’s kids riding in on hang-glider-go-kart hybrids, the dance routine culminating in a synchronised dab -- is honestly too much to cover in its entirety. One fact emerges clearly from the madness: Charli is absolutely securing that gamer bag, and we couldn’t be happier for her. “The way Charli XCX is making me want to get a switch,” tweeted one user. “Capitalism won this time.”

“I’m literally in tears,” wrote another. It’s undeniable that you emerge from the audiovisual experience of “We Are Born To Play” a fundamentally changed person. You may not have learned much about Super Nintendo World, in fact you now may understand even less about the project, but this is immaterial. All you know is that you’re more excited about it than ever before. You’ve opened Skyscanner and typed “nintendo japan” into the destination bar in a daze. You’re ready to risk it all for one hardy man in overalls.

Or, wait, is that just me?

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