Use it wisely, sentry. Remember, we rise or fall together."
While sneaking through a laboratory full of Metroids, Samus Aran is ambushed by a Magikoopa, and her suit is turned into a blue princess dress. The ambush also transports her to a castle, where a horde of Koopas bind and gag her, and she is locked in a cage dangling over a pool of lava. The ruler of this castle, Lord Bowzer, assigns a single sentry Koopa to keep her company, but being the character that she is she escapes with ease... only to accidentally fall into the lava and go right back where she started from.
When Bowzer disappears, and enemies in the castle stop talking, the sentry Koopa decides circumstances have gotten too strange and takes Samus somewhere else. All the while, questions begin to rise: where did Bowzer go? Where is Princess Peach during all of this? What would happen if Samus were to successfully escape?...
The comic began in a traditional art style, and moved to sprite-based flash animation in the middle of the first chapter. While the comic officially started in April 2012, a November 2010 comic called Mushroom Kingdom Bounty - Princess Aran (first designed as a commission for a deactivated user) was retroactively made the first installment. It is currently on hiatus with no ETA on its return yet. In the meantime, the creator has also made pieces of concept art (all of which may hint at a video game adaptation). You can start reading it here.
Systems of Entertainment features:
- Action Girl: Samus Aran, of course, beats up a bunch of koopas before she is overwhelmed the first time. She also wastes little time escaping, but she's still susceptible to her new outfit.
- Affably Evil: The Sentry Koopa is disdainful of Samus and works for Bowzer, but he secretly enjoys seeing her escape.
- Art Shift: Went from traditional art to flash animation with the 15th comic. The drawn pages would also occasionally switch from pencil drawn to digitally. When the hiatus is finished, the comic will shift back to traditional art.
- Author Appeal:
- Heartgear lists the SNES as her favorite gaming platform on her profile, and it shows here. Sprites are taken from Super Mario World and Super Mario RPG note , and the design of Bowzer's castle is taken from Super Mario All-Stars, right down to the green grass on the floor of Samus' cage. The lab Samus is exploring in the first comic looks like the Ceres Space Colony from Super Metroid. One comic features a piece of background music from Final Fantasy VI.
- Samus is also tied up for most of the comic. The author is a BDSM practitioner.
- Bash Brothers: Mario and Luigi, it would appear.
- Bond One-Liner: After Samus dies a second time. "See you soon."
- Bound and Gagged: Samus from the start is tied up and OTM gagged. Dying and coming back increases the level of her binding, to the point where the cage is omitted and she is dangled over the lava on a chain and harness.
- Broken Heel: Samus trips over one of her new shoes, which is how she falls in the lava the first time.
- Clingy Costume: Meta-Enforced. Samus tries to take off her new high-heeled shoes, but the rules of the game causes them to be unable to come off.
- Combat Stilettos: Deconstructed - it's hard to fight in mini-stilts, as Samus discovers.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The Sentry Koopa has been given permission to override the "the Third Law", letting him respawn Samus in a worse situation than she was before and taunt her by generating the key to her restraints for his own amusement.
- Convection Schmonvection : Samus is perfectly fine being only a few feet above the stuff, and falling in it creates a big wave accompanied by a "sploosh" sound.
- Deadpan Snarker: The Sentry Koopa. It would seem his job bores him to the point where he develops a sense of humor to occupy himself.(after Samus comes back the first time) Welcome back.(while watching Samus struggle to free herself) So how's that improvising working out?(after pushing Samus with the blunt end of his spear so that she falls into the lava) See you soon.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Discussed, after the first time Samus dies and come back. It is explained to be an element of video games called the "Third Law".Sentry Koopa: Under normal circumstances, you would respawn to the most recent check point - to the exact condition you were in. This is the system's way of encouraging player progression, and is known as the third law.
- Darker and Edgier:
- "Bowzer" is a lot scarier and designed to look more threatening and intelligent, in contrast to his somewhat bumbling and hammy depiction in the Mario games.
- The Mario Bros too appear much tougher, according to concept art.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Without one, it seems, the natural order would fall apart somehow...So Samus has to fill in.
- Ironic Echo:
- The Sentry Koopa mocks Samus' "Improvising" line after her first failure to escape.
- Also, when looking for Bowzer, a Goomba gives a special one to the Sentry Koopa: "I'm sorry, but our tyrant is in another castle."
- Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: It's zigzagged. Samus beats up a lot of koopas despite the limitations of her new princess dress. Then she trips in the high heels. She also notes that the evening gloves limit he dexterity. She tries removing them, is foiled by the "Third Law" and interprets that she has no choice.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Sentry Koopa can't remember anything from before the princess assignment.
- MacGyvering: Samus uses a stray screw to unlock her cage and calls it "improvising".
- Master of Unlocking: Samus is able to pick the lock to her cage with a stray screw. After dying the first time, she undoes the rope knot around her arms, with another screw.Sentry Koopa: Where do you keep finding those?!
- No Name Given: The characters in this comic may all be the same ones from their original games, but except with "Bowzer" no one uses a proper name. See Writing Around Trademarks below.
- Oh, Crap!: See page image. The Sentry Koopa has another one when he gets impatient while waiting for Samus' next escape attempt.
- The Sentry Koopa completely loses it when NO-ONE comes to either rescue Samus or relieve him of his duties, and there's signs that the normal pattern of his life has fallen to pieces.
- Palette Swap:
- Samus' new princess outfit strongly resembles a blue version of Princess Peach's, with a pink chest jewel and matching earrings.
- A piece of concept art shows Peach in what resembles a pink version of Samus' Zero Suit.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Samus's suit is turned into a pretty princess-style dress.
- Pink Means Feminine: Peach's Zero Suit because she will still be her usual feminine self when in the role of a bounty hunter.
- Red Herring: When being dangled over the lava, the Sentry Koopa hangs the key right in front of her face. It could be expected that Samus manages to grab the key and free herself once more. Instead, what happens is that the Sentry Koopa takes the key, hangs the still tied-up Samus on the end of a Lakitu Rod, and they leave the castle together.
- Screwed by the Lawyers: Heartgear abruptly stopped drawing the comic, shortly after asking about ways to avoid legal issues going forward. With Nintendo's then-recent habit of shutting down slavishly done and faithful renditions of their work due to how close they were to Nintendo's own work... Systems Of Entertainment never got past the first arc, and was lucky to not be taken down.
- Serial Escalation: The level of Samus' bondage increases after each death, resulting in her being dangled over the lava with a single chain and locked in large shackles instead of layers of rope.
- The Speechless: A fellow Koopa, a Thwomp, a Hothead, and a Dry Bones become this; when the Sentry Koopa finds them, he gathers that something is wrong.
- True Blue Femininity: Samus' dress because she now has the role of a princess (although her zero suit, seen in the beginning, is also blue but not this trope).
- Welcome to Corneria: The Goomba that the Sentry Koopa meets can say nothing but "I'm sorry, but our tyrant is in another castle."
- Writing Around Trademarks:
- Supposedly the reason no one except Lord "Bowzer" is addressed by a proper name. This deviation of Heartgear's discusses these artistic decisions, and how she means to avoid infringing on Nintendo's while still creating a personalized original work.
- The working subtitle, "A Nintentdo Doujinshi", might be an example if it isn't a typo.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: The third time Samus respawns, not only is she chained from the ceiling, but the key is also dangled in front of her."I'll admit, the key placement is more for my amusement than yours."