Why Charles Martinet Is the Best Shakespeare in Video Games

The voice of Mario was once The Bard as well

Why Charles Martinet Is the Best Shakespeare in Video Games
Source: Wikimedia Commons (Gage Skidmore).

Nintendo has decided to retire veteran voice actor Charles Martinet from his role as the English voice of Super Mario. He is now going to become the Mario Ambassador for Nintendo. Fans questioned what this meant, and who would replace Martinet. The 2023 film casting had already sparked controversy, though Martinet cameos as Mario and Luigi's father. Some of my friends have applauded him for getting a touching last line, and how proud he is of his sons.

In a September 2023 video, Martinet explains that he will travel around the world, meeting Mario fans in different countries. Shigeru Miyamoto thanks Martinet for all the joy he provided by playing Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Wailuigi. Martinet is preparing for his travels and to bring more joy to those who have helped the plumber brothers leap to different heights, and sometimes fall from them.

Many fans have expressed mixed feelings about the news. When I think of Charles Martinet, however, I don't think of him as Mario. Instead, I think of him monologuing in another game. Instead of a plumber's hat, he had a bald head and a strong British accent. Charles played William Shakespeare in an early video game, knowing how to steal the show.

"If We Shadows Have Offended, Think but This and All Is Mended..."

Source: YouTube.

Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego was one of my favorite games as a kid, and I wish it were available on Steam. Notorious thief Carmen Sandiego uses a chronoskimmer, a tablet-sized time travel device, to send her cronies through time to steal historical relics. The player also travels through time to catch the crooks, restore the relics, and fix every bit of history. You have to solve puzzles involving Roman plumbing, Atlantic Ocean seafaring, space launch simulations, and more. As a result, the game has great replay value, and you can learn historical facts at your own discretion, with no time pressure or limitations.

Charles Martinet plays William Shakespeare on the Queen Elizabeth level, where she awaits his latest performances in the Globe Theater. Carmen's VILE crony Medeva has stolen Shakespeare's scripts, and the actors have to rehearse the plays while rebuilding the wall from scratch. To help reset history, you need to rebuild the Globe.

While Shakespeare is stressed balancing duties as stage manager, construction foreman, script man, and director, he politely greets the player and encourages them to choose a play from different posters. Charles Martinet brings a professional warmth and genuine passion to this historical character.

Charles also gets to flex some stage-acting chops depending on the play you select. If you choose Macbeth, he starts the "Double, double, toil and trouble" monologue before his best actor Richard Burbage finishes it. His intonation is unforgettable, and you can believe that Charles Shakespeare toiled over that monologue centuries before writers had computer backups and typewriters.

"And One Man in His Life May Play Many Parts"

Source: Internet Archive.

I admit I didn't study Shakespeare properly until high school and college, but the monologues as an adult remind me why his work has persisted for centuries. He could do eight-act plays with characters that either hesitate too long or apply a love potion to the wrong human beings. The language may have become archaic, but unwrapping the meaning becomes joyful about the human condition. We sometimes wait to enact justice or believe our way of the world is right. The only way to avoid tragedy is to act and to keep our minds open.

While I am sad that Charles is retiring from a role that defined his career, I am also grateful he gave us numerous roles where we could dive into history and other worlds. Some people need a bard onstage, ready to delegate theater duties at a moment's notice and shoo out stray dogs, which Shakespeare attempts in an optional dialogue. Others need a plumber ready to rescue a princess.

Charles will always be Mario to many people, and he will remain Shakespeare to me. He closed the curtains with grace, never expecting applause but always appreciating it.


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