Paper Mario: Color Splash Parodies Five Guys And #GamerGate Scandal
Paper Mario Color Splash
(Last Updated On: June 23, 2016)

[Update 6/23/2016: Nintendo released a statement, denying that the Color Splash skit references #GamerGate in any way.]

[Original article:] It looks like #GamerGate has had enough of an impact on the industry to receive parodies in the world of AAA video games. A reference to the 2014 scandal surfaced in the most unlikely of places: a Nintendo game for the Wii U, specifically Paper Mario: Color Splash.

A loyal reader tipped us off to a live-stream that was taking place during E3 featuring Nintendo’s newest game Paper Mario: Color Splash. Nintendo Everything captured the 40 stream, but the most significant segment starts at the 20 minute mark when Mario gets wrapped up in a scandal involving a shuffle contest that involves some quintuplet Toads.

Things start with a “Toad and Go Seek” event where Mario must find five Toads as part of a special event. The “five fun guys” go hide and Mario ends up finding them all by smashing the ground and other items scattered around the immediate area.

After finding all five guys Mario returns to the Toad in yellow, the Toad asks if Mario wants to be part of the main event. If Mario agrees to participate it involves a “Toad Shuffle” guessing game in order to win a key to the Blissful Beach.

Paper Mario Shufflegate

Mario partakes in the event and guesses the right Toad in the “Five Fun Guys” shuffle game, but the Toad in yellow says that it’s wrong. This causes Huey the paint can to come out and say that the event was rigged because he was following along with the Toad who had been given the key in the shuffle game. However, the Toad in Yellow brushes it off because he says they have no evidence.

Paper Mario: Color Splash GamerGate

The Toad in yellow further states that all the Toads in the shuffle game are the same and that Mario just lost the game fair and square. However, Mario decides to play the game again but this time, with the help of Huey, he marks the Toad who the key was given to before they begin to shuffle. Mario loses the game again, but since they marked the Toad who the key was given to they have evidence to call out the competition as being rigged.

When the Toad in Yellow gets called out for being a fraud he responds saying…

“Man, is this gonna ruin my career?! I can see the headline now: “Shufflegate: Exposed!”

Paper Mario: Color Splash GamerGate

After bribing Mario and Huey to stay silent by giving them the Blissful Beach key, the player is awarded the mission and no one is the wiser about “Shufflegate”. In a private Facebook conversation between the two people involved in #GamerGate, it was also mentioned that the information shouldn’t be brought to light or else careers would be over with, and that it would “hurt a lot of people”, as pointed out in a tweet by Mug33k.

In the end, it was about ethics in shuffling.

Paper Mario Shufflegate

In real life things didn’t quite go like that.

Kotaku (amongst others) were called out for unethical infractions involving journalists and developers. They opted to cover it up and use the Game Journo Pros secret e-mail list to keep the narrative going in the enthusiast and mainstream media that it was just gamers being “toxic” and “misogynistic” against female game developers. However, it was later detailed how one of Kotaku’s writers was in the credits of a game, slept with the developer, and exchanged funds upward of $800 with the developer, all while writing about this developer across several websites without disclosure.

Several other websites were also called out for Federal Trade Commission breaches, and the Game Journo Pros were exposed for attempting to monopolize the industry with blacklists, along with allegations of impropriety from the former IGF chairman Brandon Boyer, as outlined in a video series by ShortFatOtaku.

Some sites like PC Gamer apologized for their unethical behavior, while others like and VG 24/7 eventually had ethics policies implemented along with affiliate link disclosures.

Unlike Paper Mario, the gaming media did not walk down the road of ethics silently or willingly, creating massive headlines across the entirety of both the gaming and tech industry at large by attempting to drag the community through the mud all while blaming #GamerGate for any and everything under the sun.

It’s obvious Nintendo took jabs at the “Five Guys” connection that was outlined in a blog post by Eron Gjoni, which eventually led to Kotaku being outed for unethical behavior, and Nintendo seemed cheeky enough to include the “Shufflegate” phrase as an obvious nod to #GamerGate. The bonus on top was when the Toad in yellow called for “evidence” and Mario and Huey had to level up and get smart about exposing the fraudsters, which is exactly what happened in #GamerGate when the journalists said the claims of corruption were all conspiracy theories until Breitbart broke the story about the Game Journo Pros with the headline “Exposed! The Secret Mailing List Of The Gaming Journalism Elite”.

Twitter user Dark_Intelligence also pointed out that the original Watergate scandal also had five guys being convicted of burglary, which was outlined in the book “Watergate Exposed”.

Well played, Nintendo.

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • Brat Sampson

    Last I checked Gamergate didn’t own or invent the -gate suffix for scandals… This is a non-story.

  • Adam Spohn

    Political humor has been in lots of games in the past including nintendo games. Im sorry you stepped out on this ledge but you are just wrong here entirely. Its very clearly a a well known reference and not something about a gaming scandal that 99% of the paper mario consumers have never heard of. Any “gate” scandal has ruined careers and has been attempted to be covered up.

  • Kevin Cardinale

    The author has no knowledge of watergate. It’s blatantly obvious it’s a watergate reference.

  • JohnFlynt

    Are you fucking high?

    • As high an African’s erection at a Swedish bridesmaid slumber party.

  • Mr.Towel

    Either way is a political subject… Nintendo is changing…

  • MusouTensei

    Anyone know what is says in the original japanese version?
    Also wondering how they will translate that into EU languages, I don’t think such a reference would make much sense here, even for UK, like they did with Triforce Heroes by removing the memes.
    Well I’m not buying the game regardless, it looks just as disappointing as Sticker Star, gonna watch a german LP once available to see how they changed it.

  • Cheshire

    Interesting turn of events. Rigged contests and 5 Guys could be clear references, but this might very well be in reference to Watergate. At any rate, I’m just here to say that references like this need to be kept out of games. IMO, at least. References are fine, but this is going way overboard. Whichever -Gate it’s referencing, it’s clearly political…

  • Morbid Complex

    I honestly dont think this is about GG. I think its more about the Watergate scandal. It also had 5 people of importance. I dunno. Its just so vague.

    • Sergio Nacher Fernández

      Well, it being vague means it has applicability. It could be about Gamergate, it could be about Watergate, it could be about any future controversy involving five guys and using the ‘gate’ monicker.

  • giygas

    A curious change from their usual SJW sympathizing.

    • I have no idea how this particular meme managed to slip through, but heads might roll if it goes viral.

      • Nanya

        I think Nintendo might be done pandering to SJWs, after what’s happened in the localizations of their games (Fates, Xenoblade Chronicles X) and the backlash that got, plus the whole “Alison Rapp” thing…

        Yeah, I wouldn’t put up with it either.

        • Cole Pram

          This would have been in the works long before any of that happened. It takes years to put a game together, but I do likely think this is a reference to five guys, which would have been going on when this was in the planning phase.

          It’s smart though IMHO because they aren’t saying they’re picking either side, they’re just acknowledging someone got caught in a scandal.

          I do think you’re right that Nintendo is sick of all the backlash, their damned if they do damned if they don’t, but on one hand they’re alienating their actual customers, on the other their alienating people who complain about everything anyway, and don’t even play a lot of the stuff they complain about.

          • Nanya

            I don’t doubt it, but the fact that Nintendo was ballsy enough to put this up at E3 is telling me that they’re sick of it.

        • Then all they need to do is to drop the ‘kiddie’ image and they’ll be good.

          • Nanya

            One step at a time. You walk before you run after all.

        • TT

          but they are still messing up TMS though. Honestly, I don’t know how to take this, with the five fun guys and shufflegate, I’m inclined to believe it’s a reference to GG, but even if it is, what is one supposed to make of it?

          • what is one supposed to make of it?

            Nothing much. It’s an obvious jab at the gates, but in the end Mario managed to scrounge up some evidence with the help of Huey and expose the fraudster.

            In the end, Nintendo valued exposing corruption as opposed to supporting it.

          • TT

            you do make a good point there, I’m just a little paranoid in regards to these kinds of things lately

          • It’s understandable because it feels like media and some game companies have been on a rampage with attacking gamers nonstop.

  • Laytonaster

    Honestly, it’s so obscure that I’m not even sure what to think.