Russian creative lab Shpatel has created a video merging classic video game Super Mario with digital projections of the Russian president’s alleged palace on the Black Sea coast.
Super Tsario takes the character across different rooms of the property, which first appeared in the public spotlight following an online investigation by opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
After wiggling through a warp pipe through the sewers and the toilets — where money is used instead of loo roll — the intrepid Mario bursts through a wardrobe full of outfits for historical rulers. He later visits a purple neon-lit strip club (based on a CGI rendering created for Navalny’s video) and the pool party spot known as the aqua-disco, a room which has already launched its own viral anti-corruption music video.
On his way through the palace, Super Mario also meets Russian political figures such as former President Dmitry Medvedev, cosmonaut-turned-politician Valentina Tereshkova, and a token intelligence officer handwashing a pair of blue underpants — a reference to another Navalny investigation, which revealed that the opposition leader had been targeted by a nerve agent placed in his underwear.
“I lost all fear and did a mash-up with Super Mario and the Putin Palace investigation,” Shpatel said. “This time, a simple mustachioed plumber will enter the largest castle in the history of 8-bit gaming to find out where almost all of the coins from our large country have disappeared.”
Navalny’s video was released on 19 January, two days after the politician’s arrest in a Moscow airport. The former presidential candidate was returning to Russia from Berlin, where he had been hospitalised after being poisoned with a nerve agent — an attack he has blamed on the Kremlin. Seen by more than 113 million viewers so far, the corruption claims in the video sparked some of Russia’s largest protests in recent years, many of which were met with unprecedented levels of police brutality. The Kremlin meanwhile denies that the property is linked to the Russian president.