You know Mario, right? Fat italian guy who wears a lot of red? Has a perfectly moulded moustache? Loves jumping on turtles? Saves the same girl over and over and over again?
Seriously, if you don't know what I'm talking about by now, there's something desperately wrong with you.
I've been playing Mario games for a long time now, and every time I think I've had enough of the plucky plumber and his Bowser killing antics, there's just something about him that drags me right back into that world, jumping and fireballing my way through level after level of the same old classic thing.
And that's part of the problem I know I'm going to have with New Super Mario Bros.
Maybe I've just been spoiled by the indie scene, or by Ubisoft's revitalisation of Rayman, but I'm a little concerned about Mario's future. Loveable guy he may be, but the New Super franchise doesn't seem to have the same level of creativity and enjoyment as some of the other titles in the long standing series, especially having played the first two on DS and Wii.
Yes, no doubt I'll still buy the 3DS New Super Mario 2 that's due out Saturday locally, and more than likely the Wii U launch edition will be on my shopping list. I'll probably even enjoy them, to a point. But I've noticed a rather disturbing trend, an almost 'cash in on the name' kind of trend that's become a constant thorn in every gamers side within this console generation. I'm not the only one who's noticed this, of course, but considering how important Nintendo considers its Mario franchise, it's a little sad to think the plumber is just going by the book now instead of pushing the boundaries that so often infused every iteration of his adventures.
Cast your mind back a few months ago, and everyone was going on about how enjoyable Super Mario 3D Land was, a perfect example of 3D design combined with classic Mario platforming of both the 2D era and the 3D, Mario Galaxy era. As great as that was, however, it's hard to overlook that despite the addition of true 3D without glasses, the title itself was mishmash of old ideas. Ye old racoon tail, flag poles, even the Bowser kid boss battles. Sure, all Mario titles have done the same in the past, but since Mario Galaxy, it's almost as if Nintendo has truly run out of ideas.
And that's a big shame if it's true.
There's a silver lining, though. The Wii U has plenty of potential, and knowing Nintendo they'll find a way to profit from it. But maybe, just maybe, the console could also provide an outlet for a true next gen Mario experience, and I'm not just talking visually. Mario Galaxy got it right, balancing the old with the really brand spanking new (hehe, spanking) thanks to the use of gravity and planets that defined each unique level. Nintendo would have to introduce a mechanic as unique as that to bring in the masses if the series, let alone the console, is going to reach the lofty heights Galaxy set.
And that's not going to happen with New Super. Nostalgia is one thing, but Nintendo aren't the only ones pulling the 8bit heartstrings anymore, especially when you've got the now exclusive Rayman Legends by Team Awesome French Dudes *ahem* Ubisoft leading the Wii U launch lineup, and a host of indie and IOS platform titles at near free prices stealing the limelight.
I'll always buy Mario games. It's just one of those franchises I could never say no to. Just count me down as one of the worried few who are holding out for the next big Mario adventure that really mixes things up. Besides, there's only so many times I can rescue the Princess before I say 'screw it, keep her Bowser. I'll go find cake with my Portal gun instead.'