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the Worn teats of Mario [ext.]

December 9, 2006
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This comes from a week-old post on Inf, but it screams Intendo.

The original article is from Nintendo Players, who question Nintendo intentions in plastering Mario in non-Mario games. I’ll post some cut-outs below, so you get the gist of their analysis.

Over the past few years, we have been seeing more and more games featuring Mario. By the end of 2006, Mario will have appeared in 143 different video games, with at least 5 more on the way in 2007…

Let’s break it down a little further. While Mario used to spend most of his time rescuing the Mushroom Kingdom, he has been spending far more time playing sports over the past few years, appearing as a playable character in golf, baseball, basketball, tennis, racing, snowboarding, and soccer games…

Releasing a new Mario tennis or baseball game really wouldn’t make any sense in 2007 because the simplified game play might not be much different from the Wii Sports package packed-in with every Wii console. Although they will still need to be differentiated from Wii Sports, don’t be surprised to see such titles (baseball and/or tennis) in 2008.

Mario’s appearance in EA’s SSX 3 snowboarding title for the GameCube was…really crossing the line in terms of character abuse. Nintendo’s characters really didn’t belong in the game, which provides a very clear example of Nintendo throwing their characters into the game to make a quick buck.

…while Super Mario Strikers started a successful new spin-off, the ancient Mario Party franchise has been getting stale. It’s actually been a whole year since Mario Party 7 — an eternity by series standards — and that’s still not long enough.

I don’t know what’s more pathetic: that i’ve been saying this for years (waste of time), or that i’ve had to say it period. Nintendo knows quite well what they’re up to, and what they have been up to; they don’t need me to tell them. They gouge their fans with product. Year after year, countless Mario paraphernalia — be they videogames, beanies, or other marketing trash — is recklessly thrown upon life-long Nintendo nerds because Mario is a clutch player.

No matter what’s going on in the market, what flopped or what underperformed, Mario sells. He comes through for them at all times. Nostalgia substitutes blood in the Nintendo fan’s arteries, they live on this stuff. This is where Nintendo’s biggest crime to the consumer lies — cashing in on nostalgia.

Oftentimes in Nintendo-based editorials from Nintendo websites or blogs, you’ll come across a piece that drones on about the “golden age” of Nintendo, when the company’s name was a synonym for any videogame or game system. This was a time when Nintendo was very stout, staunch, and Japanesey, being very protective of their properties and what the public gets from them. It was the period that made them famous, and i don’t think i have to tell you that.

This time period has been Nintendo’s crutch for almost a decade now, and Mario is the veteran prostitute of the industry. I don’t agree with how they’ve handled their fan service. He used to be their entire image, their face, their mantra and representation of philosophy. Mind you, i’m not beckoning a return to prior form, but illustrating the kind of prestige this character once used to have. The same prestige and reknown that made him an international phenomenon and equal to Disney’s Mickey. He’s worldwide, this guy.

So worldwide, in fact, that i found him on a signpost for a loan/rent place this past summer in South America to prove it.

mario sudamericana

Maybe that was his problem. He got so famous that Nintendo couldn’t afford not to milk him. For whatever reason they had to do so, it tainted his name and image in the eyes of those who appreciate Mario for his adventures. He’s a casualty of his own appeal. Now he’s a slave to royalty checks. Just look at anything non-game related, then look at all the non-Nintendo Mario games, then look at the non-Mario Marios Nintendo’s put out. Their main concern is Zelda, with Metroid being second banana and Mario left to turn tricks all around the neighborhood, getting enough scratch to feed the daily coke habit that keeps him from slitting his throat; the only escape he knows.

[ext.]The problem with this is that it’s affected the core series, if you can still call it that. You no longer anticipate a Mario game like you used to, because his face is everywhere and on anything always. There isn’t the same level of excitement when a new Mario is announced. Most of the time you think it’s a sports game first before you think platformer. Some of the “core” Marios have suffered due to being over-saturations existing inbetween main console Mario releases. Suffered so much that the RPG Mario games have become the main Mario series, just for having a story and staying somewhat true to where he started and where he’s going and maintaining some coherency.

New Super Mario Bros was tragic. This DS game proved every ill thought i had about the money-making machine behind Mario that used to be a developer. It was a remake, but wasn’t called a remake. Carefully worded press releases claimed it was “a return to Mario’s roots”, and completely new. Yea well folks, that’s kinda contradictory seeing as the only thing completely new about the game was the release year. This was 1985 all over again. A lot of levels almost verbatim’d Super Mario Bros, a pathetic, blatant shot at cashing in on nostalgia again. (Nostalg-again. That should be their new name. Or ours.) A remake with added levels.

And not only that, but it was released as a DS game, which it didn’t need to be. The thing used one screen and 2 buttons at all times. It didn’t make a substantial use of 3D, the touch screen, large DS memory capacity, or wifi to warrant its existence on DS. A 2D version could’ve gotten the job done and then some, replacing wireless LAN with a link cable or wifi adaptor, for the same price on a cheaper and more prominent handheld (GBA), and even marketed for DS & GBA owners to get the highest possible attach rate. This way, they could’ve made more money, theoretically, but they were so focused on the DS and its hype — too much to look at any other avenue. In the process, damaging the integrity of the games themselves with a thinly-veiled NES do-over that was billed as a new, core Mario game for the core gamer. Other guilty subjects to scrutinize are Super Princess Peach, Yoshi’s Island DS, and Yoshi Touch & Go.

I’ve stated my piece on the issue, but what about you: do you think the Mario cow is grazing on righteous meadows, or are the udders a little saggy? Is the Virtual Console your dream come true or Nintendo’s?

As an aside, here’s a petition that will make no difference to anybody even if the signatures multiplied by a million — left by a commenter who said alot of the right things in the Infendo thread.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Guy permalink
    December 9, 2006 2:31 am

    Personally, I don’t mind the once a generation Kart, Golf, Tennis, Soccer, Baseball, etc… games. I would prefer if Nintendo tried to reclaim the fun of Ice Hockey or other older sports games where one composed a team of new or more generic small, medium big guy characters.

    More specifically, I dislike the insertion of Mario into games where he doesn’t belong. i.e. SSX, NBA Street, or DDR Mario Mix. I think it’s sad that developers think that in order to sell an otherwise good game on a Nintendo platform, they need to insert Mario. Additionally, the rate at which Nintendo seems keen to churn out Mario Parties is disturbing.

    Overall, I am kind of disappointed in the whole Mario universe. I mean, when was the last time characters like Wario or Daisy were even used for something other than one of these sports or party games? Additionally, what is the deal with Waluigi? Do people accept him? I’ve always disliked that Nintendo felt the need to create a new character who only seems to participate in sports and parties.

  2. December 9, 2006 1:32 pm

    Aw, c’mon guys… Super Mario Strikers kicks ass, literally!

    Anyway, I think saying that you are disappointed in the whole Mario universe is taking it a little too far… the core games (with Super Mario Sunshine being the last one) are still superb, the best Nintendo has done together with Metroid, Zelda, and Pikmin. And since the guy is a fictional character, why does it matter that he gets used all over the place? Frankly, you could do a lot worse: just look at what Mickey Mouse had to endure until Disney figured out there was no one alive who remember any of his shorts or movies!

    As long as Nintendo keeps releasing top-notch Super Mario core games, I will look the other way when they release their monthly Super Mario DDR…

    Oh, and as beanies are concerned, Yoshi makes for a much better plush toy!

  3. December 9, 2006 2:28 pm

    Another hole-filled article on my part, but i forgot to insert how this affected the core franchise.

    Update complete. Follow the [ext]ension.

  4. December 11, 2006 5:24 pm

    Oooohh… Rollin, you are going to love this:

    http://ds.ign.com/articles/749/749074p5.html

  5. December 11, 2006 9:10 pm

    Nice. But one thing i don’t like is top whatever nostalgia lists.

    Hey, read your mail I-man.

  6. December 12, 2006 3:04 pm

    Thanks for the heads-up on the e-mail… I hate spam SO MUCH!! The important stuff always gets buried in there!

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