This July 4, we reflect with pride on the United States, its personal triumphs, and the value it has provided to the world. (Yes, we’ve also done a ton of things wrong, but we have the other 364 days of the year to reflect on that.) And when I think of American patriotism, I of course think of Nintendo. Nintendo is the most patriotic of video game manufacturers by far. [Citation Needed] So today, I want to count down the definite, undisputed four biggest American patriots to ever grace a Nintendo console. Make sure to wave the flag the entire time you’re reading this article.
American patriot #4: Hulk Hogan
If you’re thinking, “Wait, what? That old guy who had the bad reality show and got taped having–” let me stop you right there. I’m talking strictly about the in-ring persona. And the immortal Hulk Hogan has graced Nintendo platforms on multiple occasions, such as in WWF Super WrestleMania for Super Nintendo and WCW/nWo Revenge on Nintendo 64.
Hulk Hogan is the fundamental “Real American.” He fights for the rights of every man. If you hurt his friends, you hurt his pride. That’s as American as it gets. And his patriotism reached a fever pitch in 1991, when he confronted Sgt. Slaughter at WrestleMania VII for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. In a shocking twist, Sgt. Slaughter had defected to then-dictatorship Iraq and befriended tyrant Saddam Hussein. So basically, the entire world order hung in the balance of who won the belt.
Fortunately, after a brutal and bloody bout, Hulk Hogan vanquished Sgt. Slaughter with a well-placed Camel Clutch. In the process, he saved the free world. Hogan truly earned his spot on Nintendo platforms.
Plus, I mean, how many guys can just rip their own shirt off?
American patriot #3: The Boss (Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D)
Before Big Boss, there was simply the Boss. The Boss was a legendary soldier of the greatest magnitude. She was so patriotic that she — and this is canon — took a brief timeout from fighting in D-Day to give birth to her child. The Boss is the kind of lady who would ask to be given jury duty. And she’s a very realistic soldier too, especially because she fights alongside ghosts, frail old men in wheelchairs, and that one guy whose strategy is to literally cover himself in bees.
Over the course of Metal Gear Solid 3, the Boss ostensibly defects to the USSR (some of whom fear Metal Gear to this day), which should make her a traitor. But in fact, she continues to work for America the whole time, sacrificing all of her personal values for the sake of honoring the country that she loves. And in the end, the Boss makes the ultimate sacrifice when she orchestrates her own demise at the hands of her disciple, Naked Snake. She does everything that her country asks of her to the very end.
The details of the event aren’t so clear-cut and set a lot of complicated things in motion, but we’re not talking about that. Let’s just appreciate the Boss as a woman of eternal conviction, and as a great American patriot on a Nintendo platform.
American patriot #2: Nathan “Rad” Spencer (Bionic Commando)
Rad Spencer isn’t just a commando. He’s a bionic commando. He has a special arm that, like, stretches really far and stuff. Showing off with an especially long appendage is a very American trait in itself.
However, what makes Rad Spencer a true American patriot is that he fights bona fide militarized Neo Nazis in Bionic Commando for the NES. Language pertaining to Nazis had to be scrubbed out of the American localization for censorship reasons, but people could read between the lines. Rad dispenses justice one non-linear locale at a time, wiping out enemy bunkers and foiling evil plans.
But there is one specific moment that really earns Rad his spot on this list: It’s when he blows up actually-not-dead Hitler’s escape chopper. And Hitler’s head explodes. It is the single greatest achievement ever captured in pixel form, right there on Nintendo’s first console.
American patriot #1: Mario
This is obvious. Mario encapsulates everything that is truly great about America. He is an Italian immigrant who achieves the American dream in seemingly every way possible. Mario is a plumber, an Olympian, an ace golfer, a tennis pro, a basketball great, a soccer star, a baseball slugger, a racing champion, a doctor, a cartoon character, a typing instructor, a construction worker, and a devoted brother, among other things. And he has achieved all of this while saving whole kingdoms time and again.
Mario embodies persistence and self-sacrifice of the highest order. He’s so extremely thoughtful of others that he insists on wearing a hat with his initial on it, so that friends and acquaintances don’t feel the embarrassment of forgetting his name. The only way to make him more American is to slap a pair of Jordans on him, but Mario wouldn’t do that either because he wouldn’t want to embarrass Michael Jordan with his superior air game.
As both an American patriot and the face of Nintendo, Mario shows us that ambition and hard work make the impossible possible. He is the everyman who becomes the superman. This July 4, and every day of the year, let’s try to be more like Mario.