Fact: The characters in Mario Strikers: Battle League are enormous babies. Score a goal on Wario and he’ll turn bright red, steam pouring out of his ears. Yoshi will drop to the ground and wail. Don’t even get me started on Peach’s behavior. Honestly, the only roster member with a lick of sportsmanship is the newcomer: Shy Guy.
Released last month for the Nintendo Switch, Mario Strikers: Battle League is the latest entry in Nintendo’s long-running—and long-dormant—series of soccer games. Reviewers praised the fundamental gameplay, but slammed it for launching with an anemic roster of characters, particularly compared to the robust lineups of its predecessors: just 10 to start, all mainstays from Mario canon.
Last week, Nintendo released a free update for Battle League, adding two new characters to the game. The headliner was Daisy, which fans have been clamoring for since before the game came out. In the dust of her well-heeled heels was Shy Guy. As with every other roster member, both characters have distinct animations that trigger when they either score a goal, or end up letting the enemy team score. Shy Guy’s animation for the latter is…well, reference the video above.
Sure, maybe a momentary existential crisis isn’t exactly a paragon of good sportsmanship, per se, but it’s notably different from the extreme flouting of social contract exhibited by the rest of Battle League’s roster.
Fans have taken note, and while Shy Guy’s reaction hasn’t quite attained the level of Waluigi’s infamous “crotch chop” animation, it has the hallmarks of budding incandescent popularity. One player clipped Shy Guy pondering the soul-crushing nature of existence in a brief video snippet that went semi-viral on Twitter (940,000 views and counting). Another turned a still frame of the scene into a reaction image, or a reusable photo you can use to convey your feelings about something without having to use your words.
There’s an interesting wrinkle to Shy Guy’s victory animation, too. When Shy Guy scores a goal, he floats toward the sky with the aid of colorful balloons. As some fans have pointed out, this appears to be a quiet reference to the Sky Guy enemies from the original Paper Mario. But that particular fact hasn’t seen the same virality as Shy Guy staring into the maw of failure. To lift the personal catchphrase I live by every time I play Battle League: Losers, it seems, are the real winners.