What is an ally?

Time Turner

You are filled with determination. (R/GD/TT)
(alternative title: our use of the term "ally" suuuuuucks)

What is an ally? No, I'm seriously asking, because I have no idea and the wiki certainly seems like it has no idea. Setting aside the complete overlap the ally categories have with the character categories (if an entire species is an ally, then it overlaps with the species categories instead; either way, not good), let's look at the explanation given on Category:Allies: "A list of heroes and their allies who fight their enemies in the Mario franchise." Well, already it's set itself up as a duplicate of Category:Heroes, and I'm aware that the Heroes category says that it's to be used for protagonists, but frankly, nobody uses it for that. Still, let me give it the benefit for the doubt and let's instead look at the List of allies. It even says that it contains all of the people who "have at one point or another stood against the various enemies of the Mario franchise". That's rather vague, but it's workable. Let's look at some of the entries of the list so that we have a more concrete idea of what an ally is.

  • Baron von Zeppelin - Already, we have a subject that's explicitly stated to be an enemy and often brings harmful items and objects.
  • Belltop - He's the host of some gameboards and an arbiter for duel minigames, equally pitting all characters against each other.
  • Bubble Plant - Mario gives it a thing, and it does a thing in return. This is quid pro quo.
  • Fire Mini Mario - Literally a form gained by Mini Mario after using a power-up.
  • Baby Bowser - Is this because of Yoshi's Island DS? Even then, he's hardly helping the good guys.
  • Bandy Andy - He talks to Mario once before getting kidnapped.
  • Baby Mario - He's the main character! Is he supposed to be allied to himself?
  • Blue Toad (character) - In all of his appearances, he's either one of the main playable characters or a host who treats everyone equally.
  • Blappy - He happens to sell something that helps Mario, after trying to sell it for more coins than Mario can even hold.
  • Boards (Super Mario Galaxy) - This isn't relevant, just wanted to point out that we're calling these wooden signs sentient objects.

I'm not cherrypicking here, I'm spoiled for choice with this list. With all of these entries and many more, I find myself constantly asking who are they allied towards, who are they supposed to be allied against, and what have they literally done to deserve being called allies. It's a confusing and shoddy mess, plain and simple, but I have no idea where to even begin cleaning it up. How helpful does a character even have to be before they're promoted from being a standard character to an "ally"? Can someone be an ally by pure coincidence, for example by being a merchant who sells things to the main characters without thinking about allying themselves to them? Inversely, is there a point at which someone can no longer be considered an ally? If a villain acts like a villain for most of the game but cheers on the hero during the finale, would they be considered an ally?

Beyond all of this, perhaps I can ask a follow-up question: do we really need the ally categories? Is it really that necessary to list all of the helpful people within a single game or even a franchise? If a character's helpfulness or heroic deeds are so intrinsic to them that it should be noted, then we already have the Heroes category. It's not like any of these articles would be orphaned: as I said in the beginning, whether they are characters or species, we already have categories for them. It's better than tagging every character who happened to lend Mario a dime at one point.
 
I know you already mention this, but the term "ally" is something already really foggy to begin with, when it runs contrary to how we apply categories to characters around here, which should be as black and white as possible, not muddled or have their character change role depending on the situation. In this situation, "Ally" can refer to Bowser in one part of the game helping another guy out, but only for selfish motivations and turns out to backstab the heroes later on. "Ally" can also refer to in-fighting within the villains, like Bowser against Antasma in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team: under this category's definition, he could be considered an ally just for getting rid of a central threat.

I think a better application for this category is to first, rename "ally": I think the term itself is a bit too flowery, and when people describe these types characters, they call them "Friendly NPCs" instead, which I think is a lot less loaded word and a better description for this category. Furthermore, it should apply only to NPCs that are generally considered that in most of their appearances. No listing Baby Bowser or Bowser doing it only for selfish reasons and to backstab you later on. It also shouldn't apply to characters who are only temporarily NPCs, like in Mario Golf: World Tour where you see the playable characters hanging out in a lounge and you can talk to them and stuff.

Category:Heroes can be renamed to Category:protagonists as well, because I think that's also a hugely loaded term like "Allies", and some characters there can be moved to Friendly NPCs.
 

Glowsquid

Shine Sprite
Forum Moderator
Wiki Bureaucrat
Core 'Shroom Staff
https://www.marioboards.com/index.php?topic=32955.0

cringe-writing aside, what I wrote atop page 2 of that thread is still the way to go, I think.
 

Alex95

NIWA Nut
Wiki Administrator
I considered allies to be characters that assist Mario in his adventure throughout, like the Paper Mario partners. Little one-offs that don't do much like the Board in Super Mario Galaxy shouldn't count.

We could classify this as "Good Guys" and likely still run into the same issue. What's the split here?
 

Time Turner

You are filled with determination. (R/GD/TT)
Actually, this might be a good way of drawing a line in the sand. Take any standard shopkeeper who sells helpful items to the player, like Boodin, who never goes out of their way or otherwise does anything to help the player: are these kinds of shopkeepers considered allies (or friendly NPCs or good guys or whichever name you like)? Yes, they're helping you, but it's completely incidental. If you didn't have money, they wouldn't care about you.
 

Time Turner

You are filled with determination. (R/GD/TT)
Baby Luigi said:
When we say the term "friendly NPC", it usually refers to NPCs who aren't hostile to the player, not because of their positive relationship.
How many NPCs are hostile to the player?
 

Time Turner

You are filled with determination. (R/GD/TT)
Baby Luigi said:
The enemies are..... for starters? The term "NPC" just means "nonplayable character".
At that point, you're being too broad, and there's a pointless amount of overlap with the other categories. Non-playable character already has the connotation that it's not an enemy. Bosses are NPCs, the species are NPCs, and at that point, what's the point of it?
 
I don't advocate the term "NPC" to be used as a category, that's why we don't have a category of that in the first place. What I think is a better idea is "Friendly NPC", which, when you see used in video games, means "people that don't out of their way to kill you", pretty much.

I think you're overthinking some parts of this: with your example using shopkeepers being in there only for the money, they are always there to assist you if you can exchange your wares for their services. That's pretty much it. Maybe they could rip you off, sure, but in the end, they also provide beneficial items, and they're not directly hostile to you in the same way the enemies you regularly fight are. They aren't meant to "care" about you, they're there to provide you with some gameplay advantage, and that's all that really matters when creating a category for friendly NPCs.
 

Time Turner

You are filled with determination. (R/GD/TT)
It's at times like these, when I have a bunch of ideas on how to take care of something but no clear consensus as to what would be best, that I like to make a proposal and throw it to the wolves. I'm tempted now to take everyone's suggestions and lump them into one proposal... though to be completely honest, I'm not entirely on board with any single idea yet.
 

Alex95

NIWA Nut
Wiki Administrator
I think it might be best to limit it to playable allies that actually do something to support Mario, like the Paper Mario partners (that's just the best example I can give). I think Peach, Bowser, and Luigi would qualify as well, due to Super Paper Mario. Bob-Omb Buddies and Jibberjays, etc. would qualify, but if we classified every instance of non-playable characters, we'd likely end up back where this started.
 

Time Turner

You are filled with determination. (R/GD/TT)
So it's entirely Mario centric? Especially for the Paper Mario partners, they're just as much on the journey to Bowser as Mario, so it seems weird to give them lesser prominence.
 

Alex95

NIWA Nut
Wiki Administrator
I meant the major character in the game. E. Gadd would be an ally of Luigi, Mario & Luigi are each other's allies in the Mario & Luigi games, Perry is an ally of Peach's, etc. Just someone that actually has a significant impact on the major character's progression and remains "partnered" with said major character for at least a majority of the game (meaning characters like Prince Peasley or Mona likely wouldn't count).

The kicker here is would every character in Brawl count due to the Subspace Emissary?
 

Time Turner

You are filled with determination. (R/GD/TT)
Subspace Emissary doesn't have a protagonist or a major character - Mario, Kirby, Peach, and Zelda share the spotlight at first, but everything diverges so much that it would be really hard to even pinpoint a principal group.
 

Binarystep

East of Dry Dry Desert
I was just about to make a proposal about this. Honestly, I think the category should just be deleted at this point. It's vague as hell, and all the best possible definitions I've seen match existing categories.
 

Time Turner

You are filled with determination. (R/GD/TT)
Maybe it would be worth making a preliminary proposal that calls for either the removal of allies or the retooling of allies, and, if that passes in favor of retooling it, a second proposal would then follow covering the suggestions here.
 

Binarystep

East of Dry Dry Desert
Time Turner said:
Maybe it would be worth making a preliminary proposal that calls for either the removal of allies or the retooling of allies, and, if that passes in favor of retooling it, a second proposal would then follow covering the suggestions here.
I'd support that idea.
 

Time Turner

You are filled with determination. (R/GD/TT)
I want the first proposal to be about whether the community even wants the allies in the first place, and if they do, I want the second proposal to be about what exactly they want the allies to be. If all goes to plan, the process will take no more than two weeks, one for each proposal - no more than a talk page proposal.
 
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