Koopa Troopa: Why They're Awesome Mario Enemies

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by: Hairball

The Koopa Troopa is one of the most commonly encountered enemies in the Super Mario universe. Koopas, Goombas, Piranha Plants, Bullet Bills are among the low level foot soldiers that Mario will have to regularly defeat to get to Bowser.

Compared to typical Mario enemies, Koopas are incredibly interesting creatures with an immense versatility derived from their Koopa shells. In many games, the NPC (non-playable character) Koopas also have a bit of a "cool" personality by speaking in the vernacular with present-day slang. They're not the elites, that's for sure.

Here are some of the many great reasons why Koopa Troopas are among the most beloved characters from Mario games.

Koopa shells make excellent projectiles. In most Mario games, after you stomp on a Koopa, you can kick their shells and they kill off almost everything along the way... it feels so satisfying to hear those 1-Ups roll in! But remember to be careful as Koopa shells can be scary and bounce back and hurt Mario!

Kicking a Koopa shell in Super Mario Bros. (All-Stars version)

Since Super Mario World, Koopas are walking on two legs and wearing shoes - poking fun at a traditionally slow turtle-like creature that is usually anything but athletic. In addition, Koopas also appear far more "happy" than they did in Super Mario Bros. They seem to be going about their business, being happy-go-lucky without a care in the world.

Koopa Troopa

The only exception seems to be in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 where Koopas are back on all fours, without shoes and look quite mean looking. Maybe they're angry about being thrown into outer space by Bowser?

Angry Koopas Super Mario Galaxy 2

Not all Koopas are bad guys and work for Bowser - In Super Mario 64, Mario is introduced to Koopa the Quick, a giant friendly Koopa Troopa that likes to take shortcuts that you're not allowed to take - what a hypocrite! Racing mini-games have become a staple in subsequent Mario games, but the next time we race Koopas is with the "Roving Racers" in Super Mario Odyssey, this time instead of racing one Koopa, you have to race four of them!

Koopa Freerunning in Super Mario Odyssey

Since then we have started to see other friendly Koopas more often, most notably in the Paper Mario series.

When you stomp on a Koopa Troopa one of two things happen. Either the Koopa hides in its shell, and after some amount of time the Koopa will "right" itself and attack Mario, or in some games, a Beach Koopa pops out with an empty shell, it does feel kind of mean if you steal their shell because it's like you stole their clothes (or their home)! In Super Mario 3D World, Beach Koopas will chase after you for being a jerk!

Mario stealing Koopa shell from Beach Koopa

Famously in Super Mario World, Koopa shells have magical abilities when eaten by Yoshi. Spitting out a red shell will yield three large fireballs. Eating a yellow shell will allow Yoshi to create deadly sand clouds, and eating a blue shell has the most powerful ability, giving Yoshi the capability to fly. If you have a certain colour of Yoshi, eating a different colour shell will combine both abilities!

Yoshi shooting fireballs after consuming red Koopa shellYoshi storm clouds after consuming yellow Koopa shell Yoshi flying with blue Koopa shell

It's unfortunate that in Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Maker 2, the Koopa shells no longer have these special abilities, which is a pity! The coloured Koopas and Yoshis were the best feature in Super Mario World, and if Nintendo had included this for the SMW style it can allow for even more advanced and dynamic levels to be made by creators.

In New Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. U, Koopas that are walking around will stop and dance to the beat of the music breaking the third wall, which can totally mess up your timing. Koopas aren't so dumb after all, they know they're in a game. How can you not love these guys?

Koopas dancing in NSMBU

Swimming fast with a shell - Koopa shells add buoyancy, when Mario is holding a Koopa shell, he can swim much faster than he normally does treading in water. In Super Mario Galaxy, the shell will even include a headlight and brake lights for you - a nice touch! The amount of detail that Nintendo routinely includes with their games is very impressive.

Mario swimming with Koopa shell in Super Mario Galaxy

In Super Mario 64, although quite rare, the Koopa shell can be rode on like a skateboard to take out enemies, go up steep paths, and travel across dangerous terrain like lava and quicksand. Wahoo!

Super Mario 64 Koopa Shell Ride

In spin off games such as Mario Kart and Mario Tennis, Koopa Troopa is typically a very balanced character, super fitting because he's the everyman of Mario characters, therefore he's great for novices to play with, there are no surprises here.

Koopa Troopas are such fascinating characters that we've seen by Nintendo in so many unique ways. They're not only fun, but they contribute a lot to the mechanics of Super Mario games.

After reading this, if you aren't convinced that Koopa Troopas are awesome, well then maybe you just aren't a Mario fan!

What do you like about Koopas? Or are they one of your dreaded Mario enemies? Share your thoughts with us!

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