Image: Nintendo

Nintendo dropped a bombshell during its Direct yesterday that has added a fascinating and perplexing new layer to our collective understanding of the expanded Mario universe: By placing a gold crown on her head, Toadette can become Peach. Or, more specifically, Peachette. Does this mean Peach has really been a Toad all this time? And what’s up with all these hats fucking people up in Mario games lately?

The groundbreaking debut of Peachette came early on in the presentation when Nintendo announced that New Super Mario Bros. U will get ported to the Switch as New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, which would include New Super Luigi U as well. The company then explained that the port will have a few new playable characters, including Nabbit and Toadette. But then, Nintendo revealed, when Toadette gets a gold crown, she transforms into someone (or something?) called Peachette, a human-looking form endowed with the ability to both float like her namesake and perform a double jump. She also gets boosted back up if she falls into a pit. Strange sorcery indeed.

GIF: Kotaku (New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe)

This casts further light on what little we know about the Mushroom Kingdom. Of course, the kingdom was already a confusing place. Peach is human, yet her surname is Toadstool. She is the land’s princess, but all of her subjects are Toads, i.e. small, anthropomorphic mushrooms with a strong commitment to going sleeveless. Many have wondered, since the inception of the Mario series, why these creatures would choose a human to be their monarch. The introduction of Peachette invites new theories, chief among them that Peach used to be a Toad herself but has since evolved thanks to her own gold crown.

From that small deductive seed, however, springs a further cornucopia of bizarre fan conspiracies. A thread on ResetEra began with one poster proposing that this latest development is related to Cappy-induced transformations from last year’s Super Mario Odyssey. “So can Toads evolve into humans if they have the appropriate headgear?” they speculated. “Is that why it’s not until Odyssey that they know about hats [and] Peach is keeping it from them to prevent a rival to challenge her?”

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Other fans wonder if this means that Toadette has actually been Peach this whole time since the two almost never appear together (unless you count stuff like one of the optional endings in Super Mario Run as canon). Is Rosalina also secretly a Toad? Is everybody? Or was this just Nintendo’s way of making Peach playable since in it she technically spends yet another whole game kidnapped by Bowser? If she’s really Toadette, by the way, then she hasn’t been kidnapped at all. Is Bowser just giving her an alibi?

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None of these theories have firm evidence, so they’re easy to brush aside, right? But consider the art in the strategy guide for the original Super Mario Bros. on NES. It includes an illustration of “Princess Toadstool” who has both a mushroom AND A CROWN on her head. Maybe the artist commissioned to do the work just took the description literally, or maybe Toadette and Peach are actually related in some way. As one fan theorist suggested, maybe Toadette is only born every century or so, and destined to eventually replace the existing Peach and become the Mushroom Kingdom’s new head of state. Nintendo never has been very clear on how much time passes between each game.

When asked by Kotaku about this possibility and others, Nintendo did not immediately respond for comment. Either way, the truth is out there, and a discombobulated but determined fanbase is currently searching for it.