Activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has called out Nintendo for apparently promoting animal cruelty with the recent release of Super Mario 3D Land, which sees the return of Mario's Tanooki Suit.
Mario has been wearing the Tanooki suit since Super Mario Bros. 3, released in 1988, where upon finding the magical costume Mario gains the ability to turn himself into a statue for a short amount of time, making him invincible to enemies. PETA have come out against this suit now as they feel "[Tanooki] Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur." Along with this message, PETA have created a flash game depicting a skinned tanuki (which is a raccoon-like animal from Japan) chasing after a bloodied up Mario, trying to get its skin back.
Controversy in the world of gaming is nothing new. Aside from recurrent attacks over whether the violent content of some games has a negative effect on young impressionable minds, recent targets for media uproar have been games such as Modern Warfare for its depiction of "terrorists" or Arkham City's apparently derogatory language towards Catwoman.
From any gamers' perspective, it's clear to see that PETA have missed their mark on this one; Mario squishes hundreds of goombas in each of his games, but is never seen harming a tanuki. The main reaction from gaming journalists has been that this is a rather absurd and unresearched move by PETA, and to some extent will further alienate themselves from the gamer niche.
Super Mario 3D Land launched this past Sunday to much fanfare and is now available for the Nintendo 3DS.