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The History of Mario's Spooky Foe: Boo
Friend Or Foe
The most timid of the Super Mario Bros universe, the shy little ghosts that appear in games from the main series to spin-off series like Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Yoshi's Island, the Boo has undergone some cosmetic changes as well as few names.
Is it friend or foe? Male or female? Is there more than one real Boo? Or would that be Boo's?
Called Boo Diddley's back in their first appearance in Super Mario Bros 3, but Teresa in Japanese versions of the Mario games due to their name being close to the word "tereu" meaning to be shy.
Mario's crazed fan base has many theories about the Boos, first stemming from there are many of them as we learn finding clusters of Boo Buddies in mostly the Scary Mansion levels of Mario's game which is some even refer to it as Boos House.
Assuming from the Japanese name, the Boos might be female, or assumed to be at least of both sexes.
While some Nintendo fans theorize that Boos might stem from being the ghosts of killed enemies in other areas of the games, be former Shy Guys- which would explain in why they insist on hiding their faces if Mario gets too close.
Boo is never an enemy that Mario ever has to fight, unless you count combat in a spin-off title like Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, or Mario Party that include Boo as a playable character.
Usually guarding a doorway, item, or a pathway, the Boos or Theresa'a if you will, will hide their face once Mario has gotten too close but will start to give chase as soon as his back is to them. By making quick turns and periodically looking back a the Boo's trailing Mario will stop them in their tracks.
As games progressed, levels became more vertical, and in the case of Super Mario Bros 3D World, Super Mario Galaxy, and the New Super Mario Bros series, sometimes the player is angled to have to walk straight towards the camera on a beam or rope which wont allow for Mario to keep looking over his shoulder as the Boos creep in, so being quick on your feet is the best ally.
No items work to kill Boos in the main game, all though there are other specialized levels in various games that sometimes do something to interact and items like a Star will allow for Mario to run through a line of Boos but even if they are temporarily dispatched of, they will re-spawn in moments.
Is Boo really out to get Mario or is he or she just guarding an area? No one really knows from the games that Boos appear in.
In Japanese versions of the game Boo is named Theresa for the closeness to the word "tereru" meaning "to be shy"
Super Mario Bros 3
Appearing first in the dungeons of Super Mario Bros 3 levels, the Boos were smaller than the average Mario enemy and seemed to have arms and fangs. Their tiny bodies were about the size of regular sized Mario and only using a Star would get you to be able to contact them but even if a Boo disappears it suddenly reappears and continues to follow Mario as he passes.
While Boos were no real threat to the player, as they turn their back and blush as Mario grew close, they will reappear behind Mario as he starts to move beyond them so any contact could either bring Mario down a power-up or kill him if already at regular size.
Boos are generally attached to one particular area or item like a platform or doorway and don't move much beyond that space even when pursuing Mario unlike later games that gave the enemy a little more range and changed him or her into several types and sizes.
Where Super Mario 3 allowed for several types of items that gifted Mario with flight like the Tanooki Suit, the P Wing, and the leaf varieties to "just grow a tail", Mario can only cruise uninterrupted from the Boos with the use of a P Wing only being that in this game the Boos are dungeon dwellers, there usually isn't much ceiling to get a enough space around them as some will patrol in a more circular pattern. Some dungeons given the flight elements to Super Mario Bros 3 also had spiked or movable ceilings that often came down on Mario preventing his high flying adventures and keeping him closer to the ground.
The only other version of Boos to show up in their debut in Super Mario Bros 3 was the Stretch, which would guard a particular platform and spread out slowly on the top of bottom as Mario was standing upon it trying to block his escape routed.
No other enemies except the stray Dry Bones are usually in the same area of the Boos in most games so it is unknown if they are any aid to other more dominant enemies.
If Dry Bones are clearly the remains of the shelled enemies that Mario has ground pounded and Fire Flowered his way through in the events of the game, does this make Boo a ghost of another type of enemy?
The shy little ghostlings made for a memorable character enough to be included in every Mario game since.
If Dry Bones are the remains of shelled enemies, then what does that make Boos the ghost of? Some Nintendo fans theorize that they might be former Shy Guys and Sniffits as they hide their faces, though those enemies were mainly seen in just Super Mario Bros 2 and a few spin-off titles, mainly in the Yoshi franchise and Super Mario Bros 3 hosts the first appearance of the Boos in the dungeon areas.
Varieties Of Boo Buddies
With humble beginnings as Boo Diddley's in Super Mario Bros 3, these tiny ghosts appeared to only be body and appendages that were not so much arms as maybe floppy also wings.
Overtime as the game consoles grew to have better graphics, the appearance and types of Boos that appeared in games were a little more varied. Boos began to change in sizes like King Boo and colors in the case of the Dark Boo. Some Boos had a little more than just arms and fangs. The Super Mario World game also changed the behavior of Boos as they began to make faces when Mario turned his back almost mocking him.
Block Boos, Snake Boos, Circling Boos, Eerie, Disappearing Boos, Big Boos, and the Boo Swarms began to change the way Mario approached the once bashful little ghosts that became braver when they had the numbers and often objects like red coins to protect.
Boo Houses became a constant part of Mario's travels through the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond.
Where as Mario did not have to fight the early Boos, these later deviant little creatures were still nothing to be too concerned about, even with Big Boo as the occasional boss, as where they may have lost a little of their shyness and were more engaged in keeping Mario out of an area or unable to complete a path, they still gave up pursuit rather easily, even in a Boo Swarm.
By Super Mario Sunshine Boos had changed color again and even had a pink type that was effected by the main weapon of the game the F.L.U.D.D., a water powered backpack of sorts similar to the gadget that Luigi gains in his spin-off series Luigi's Mansion, which even has the occasional Boo- although a cousin-type ghost model is more prevalent in the game to differentiate between the Mario franchise, I suppose. The ghosts seen in the cursed home of Luigi can be green, or red and have more visible arms and defined bodies.
By the New Super Mario Bros game, Boos remained a part of the game and the Boo Houses were in almost every level. There were a few ways to take out a Boo now, including the blue shell and still using a Star, but they will always come back if you wait around long enough. A new type of Boo that steadily grows larger was a big part of this series and though he or she would pursue Mario just the same, the larger Boo would still shyly look away but could charge down on Mario much faster than any variety. This Boo was often used to chase Mario off screen in the ending of a level.
Super Mario 3D Land ushered in a pesky spirit that began to mock Mario's power-up including Boos with a Tanooki tail that would swish as they tried to knock Mario off platforms.
Strangely, Super Mario Odyssey does not contain any Boos, odd as the character has been in virtually every game since the 90's. Peach does make a reference to the ghostly buddy though.
Boos have had exposure in the spin-offs of the Mario franchise making one wonder how bad could the little guys be if they are willing to put in some friendly competition in Kart racing?
Appearing in Mario Party, Super Smash Bros, and Mario Kart, the Boos are one of the gang when it comes to Mario enemies taking on some friendly competition, making one wonder since they never really try to harm Mario in the main game, just scare him- are the Boos enemies at all?
Spin-off Series And Boo
In certain parts of the Yoshi series, Boo makes an appearance when he or she isn't Kart racing, and playing party games with the rest of the Mario crew.
The behavior of Boo is similar in Yoshi's Safari, and Yoshi's Island, where Boo hides their face and remains bashful as ever to a Yoshi looking upon them before moving as the back of the protagonist is turned.
Yoshi however has the power of throwing eggs and can stun a Boo unlike his friends in the Mushroom Kingdom. The use of this projectile can take out most enemies in the Yoshi games, and in the case of Boo can actually defeat them.
Yoshi's world is host of Jelly Boos, Blindfolded Boos, Big Boos, and Baby Boos.
In Mario Kart Boo is both a playable character or can be used as a weaponized spectral being to steal coins from other players.
Mario Party and its many games finally gave Boo a speaking role although they can't be understood. They are again a playable character or host to some of the games along the board.
With appearances in almost every spin-off title, expect to see a Boo or two. A full listing of games Boo appears in can be found here on the Wiki.
By the later games, Boo is less bashful to his competition like he is in true form in Mario games. While he or she has gained a voice them mostly give a little giggle type noise.
Why the inclusion of the Boo didn't make Super Mario Odyssey when other dungeon crawlers like Dry Bones and flying Dry Bones got their screen time,we may never know. Maybe there is some area of the game yet to be unlocked that will contain a Boo House or a haunted DLC yet to come!