The Mario franchise has a tendency to regulate some of its more interesting characters to spin-off and sports titles. Recently we looked into Waluigi, the sometimes-partner and maybe-brother of bombastic Mario rival Wario. Waluigi, despite the undeniable magnetism of his gangly limbs and the siren song of his “Wah,” has never appeared in a mainline Mario title. Instead, he has been doomed to race karts and play tennis for the entirety of his existence. But there is another, more easy-on-the-eyes character that seems to have been pushed into the background: Princess Daisy.
Daisy appears to be a sweet, fun-loving gal, and hails from the sandy kingdom of Sarasaland — an area only explored in 1989’s Super Mario Land. Like Waluigi, she is only found swinging tennis rackets or racing along Rainbow Road these days. Now, nearly 30 years after her introduction, Daisy — and players — have yet to return to her kingdom, and we still know precious little about her. However, if several hints in Super Mario Odyssey are any indication, we may be seeing her again soon.
Ruler of a Forgotten Kingdom
When Daisy first appeared in Super Mario Land, she was the ruler of Sarasaland, a neighboring land to that of Princess Peach’s Mushroom Kingdom. Sarasaland is not one kingdom but a collection of kingdoms and is mostly remembered for its wide desert, the kingdom of Birabuto. Sarasaland is comprised of four separate kingdoms: Birabuto, with its ancient Egyptian-like setup; the watery Muda; Easton, which looks like the real-life Easter Island; and Chai, a kingdom seemingly based on China.
So Daisy is, technically, more powerful a ruler than Peach, with more land and subjects to preside over. Interesting.
The first (and only) time we get to play in Sarasaland in a mainline Mario game is in Super Mario Land. Wario has taken over the country, brainwashed its inhabitants, and allowed the evil alien Tatanga to kidnap its ruler, Princess Daisy. Mario defeats the invaders and rescues Daisy, and — that’s it. We never see or hear from her or Sarasaland again.
That is, until Mario Kart Wii. The course Daisy Circuit is in the Birabuto section of Sarasaland, and features a giant sand statue of Daisy dancing with Mario’s brother, Luigi — confirming the pair’s involvement. The Daisy Hills track in Mario Kart 7 is supposedly part of Sarasaland, but the more Austrian-looking architecture seems incongruous from what we know of Daisy’s home.
What, then, has been going on with Sarasaland for the past 28 years?
If you took time to read the official booklet for Super Mario Land way back then, you would have learned something pretty important about Sarasaland. The booklet states:
“Once upon a time, there was a peaceful world called Sarasaland.”
Sarasaland is called an entire “world.” And while some may think this is just semantics, Mario fans know that the placement and use of proper nouns like “land” and “world” really mean something. In Super Mario Galaxy, you visit different “Galaxies” in the same universe. In the original Super Mario Bros, you could hop breezily between “Worlds” with entirely different setups. In Super Mario Sunshine, Isle Delfino is an island existing on the same planet, in the same world as the Mushroom Kingdom — it’s not a separate world and is never called one. What spaces and places are called is always a deliberate choice.
So this collection of kingdoms that Daisy rules is, in fact, its own world, and in Mario terms, that means an entirely different plane of existence, far away from the Mushroom Kingdom and perhaps in another part of the space-time continuum entirely. And given that Super Mario Odyssey consists of Mario hopping between Kingdoms, it’s not entirely off base to think that Sarasaland’s territories may be among them. Particularly when you look at what kingdoms we know about so far.
A Familiar Desert?
Super Mario Odyssey fans have already seen footage of the Sand Kingdom, a desert of endless red sand and some cute, seemingly Mexican-inspired inhabitants and architecture. And players have also been quick to points out that some of the beings in the Sand Kingdom look an awful lot like ones you encountered in Sarasaland.
For example, the weird Easter Island head statues that we see Mario possess look like the same structures from Sarasaland’s kingdom of Easton. These statues also look like the Tokotoko enemy in Super Mario Land that throws rocks. Similarly, Mario can attempt to ride a golden sphinx-like creature called a Jaxi that looks like the Gao of Sarasaland’s Birabuto kingdom.
You could even take this a step further and say that Super Mario Odyssey takes place in all of Sarasaland, and that the cities and kingdoms we encounter in Odyssey are all bits and pieces under Daisy’s rule.
Perhaps even the Mushroom Kingdom falls under this collection of kingdoms, which would make Peach something more like Daisy’s archduke and less a princess. Come to think of it, this would explain why Peach, a supposed ruler of a kingdom, has so much time to run around with Mario and why the Mushroom Kingdom doesn’t fall into ruin while she’s kidnapped — because someone else is looking out for it.
So Will We See Daisy in Super Mario Odyssey?
The Sand Kingdom does have both Mexican and Egyptian influences to its design and does carry many elements reminiscent of Sarasaland. And if the game is going to include this long-lost world, then it makes sense that we would also encounter its ruler.
But so far, we’ve seen no proof — not a smidge or a word — that Daisy might appear somewhere in the game. However, Nintendo has gotten into the habit of listening closely to its fans and delivering products with styles that its fans want. Just look at what the company is doing with fanservice and metagames in Fire Emblem Heroes, or elements in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that cheekily pay tribute to fan wants, like Link in belly-dancer garb or the Prince Sidon.
One can hope. Maybe Nintendo will surprise us, and we’ll find out that the Sand Kingdom is a part of Sarasaland, and we’ll get to complete a mission or two with our too-often-neglected Daisy. We’ll find out later this month when we finally get our hands on the finished version of Super Mario Odyssey.