Valentine's Day has become as much a time to reflect on abject loneliness as it is to celebrate love, so here's the story of a video game character left to wander a universe of pixels unwanted and alone.
In the days before mushroom fetishist and general liability Princess Peach arrived on the scene, Mario enjoyed a brief but eventful relationship with a girl called Pauline.
Unlike most of Mario's damsels in distress, Pauline was not a princess but just a regular gal trying to get through the day without being kidnapped by a belligerent barrel-throwing ape (the irrepressible Donkey Kong).
Wearing a sultry red dress and earrings, Pauline looked as though she would be more at home draped on a grand piano in a hotel bar than wandering the halls of a gilded castle, and her skills in a go kart were seemingly non-existent.
This didn't stop romance blossoming every time Mario went to great lengths to rescue her from Donkey Kong's arcade prison, but the relationship wasn't to last.
Perhaps it was the pair's need to go through the cycle of becoming entangled in danger and then making up that drove a wedge between them, or maybe Mario was just a pink kind of guy.
Either way, the moustachioed lothario stopped calling Pauline and swiftly began seeing Peach, a relationship which, while based around low contact hours and mostly the delivery of 1up mushrooms, has flourished for more than 25 years.
It might have been fair to leave Pauline in the Mushroom Kingdom history books at this point, but instead she was brought back in the Mario vs Donkey Kong series on Nintendo DS, now merely 'good friends' with Mario, where she was invited to his business and theme park events as a VIP in a fairly see-through attempt from the Italian plumber to rub his new found love in her face.
Name changes and appearances in cartoons have come and gone, but Pauline has remained drifting on the fringes of Mario titles, her story only being advanced by the unrequited libidinous advances of Donkey Kong.
All this to say, however far away from you Cupid's arrow may have struck this Valentine's Day, at least you're not stuck in a hot air balloon with a slingshot-wielding ape wearing only a tie.