Awwww yeah, that’s the stuff. That’s my Mario. I definitely prefer the 2D games, but I absolutely love the more structured Mario well… world as it was. This is when it all changed. This was the step from Mickey Mouse to Spongebob Squarepants. Now he was still free to be or do anything the devs wanted sure. Just now it had to be in the Mushroom Kingdom, or atleast have a Mushroom Kingdom vibe to it. This is when his world was made. Just like SpongeBob can be a caveman or superhero or whatever the plot calls for as long as it’s in that odd underwater but no one can swim world they made. So to can Mario be or go anywhere. The rules are a bit more loose as there is everything from New Donk City with it’s Sonic ’06 ass looking people.
To the Mushroom Kingdom, Donkey Kong Island, Yoshi Island, the BeanBean Kingdom, Layer cake Desert, Soda Pop Swamp, and so on and so on. Which is a double edged sword because some stuff doesn’t feel right.
That’s a real boss in the (at the time of writing) newest mainline Mario series. So yeah it’s kinda tricky to handle an established aesthetic perfectly. I’m sure they had their reasons and all, but dragons already existed in Mario canon and fit way better.
So world building aside the main thing is the games. I’m not just talking 3D Mario here. Just every game after Mario 64. They are a blast, a bit easier than I’d like but not everything has to be brutal. This is when that cohesive Mario feel really shines. The newer games can even dramatically depart from a “Mario” game and still feel very much inline with the rest. Couple that with his parties, sport matches, and everything other genre and thing they can shove him into.
Even those new horrid looking Lego monstrosities even capture that Mario aesthetic. Mario is now less a blank slate for ideas and more an idea delivery vehicle. Which when you look at Sunshine, Galaxy, and Mario and Sonic at the Olympics Games seem just as viable as Mario and Rabbids in an Xcom style game.
Which is a good thing as Nintendo is finally learning to trust again. Aside from letting other devs use the mustached money machine in their own games and ideas I heard the Despicable Me guys got the rights to a new Mario movie. So why worry about Sunshine being gimicky or Galaxy being dark? Who cares if Mario is a body snatcher with his new ghost friend? None of that matters. The old games had to reinvent the wheel each time with their left to right athletic platforming titles. Now they get to play with the concept of a Mario title from the ground up. So if you catch one or two you happen to not be a fan of, well it’s likely one and done. Nintendo flipped the script here with being experimental now with the game while keeping a tight lock on the world. Pretty much the exact opposite of how they started.
Like Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker for one. A slow paced star searching platformer that also makes you unable to jump. Literally my only real requirement for a Mario game. Yet it was so good, so perfectly crafted, I didn’t notice. They made me play a Mario game with no jumps, and I never questioned it. Mind you Toad also fought a dragon and his looked like a part of the world he was set in. So maybe just treat the next game as the first one you ever tried. Instead of prejudging something and missing out on years of joy because there was a water pack in it. Sure Mario is way more kid friendly in tone and challenge, but sometimes that’s what I want. I think of them like the Adam Sandler movies of video games. Something I can just turn my brain off and enjoy. It’s mindless fun, but it’s Mario. Who doesn’t love Mario?
He’s so beloved you would even buy a fidget spinner again. Like I know I’d been basically saying the same thing in different ways but that’s because typically I’d be talking about the direction they are going or atleast where they went in these types of articles. Just here I have no clue. I don’t have any grasp on where they might even be taking it because well, they know I’ll buy whatever they shove on the shelves. Mario has had so many great games, and more than a few flops, that Nintendo knows it’s zero risk. It would be practically impossible to ruin the goodwill he has with gamers.
See Mario Sunshine was not really a game I liked back then, and I still don’t like it very much. I was not a fan of the limited water tank playing into so soooooo much of the platforming. Not a bad mechanic overall, but with Mario titles you know that you only get one every few years. So it was all I was gonna get. Then Galaxy came out. It went back to the more time based power up gimick like the caps in 64. Just by then the damage was done. I was stuck on how much has changed since Mario 64. I stupid idea seeing as Mario 1 to Mario 2 (USA) is a massive departure as well and that never bothered me much. I should have just taken Sunshine at it’s surface level and left it there. I mean did I like Odyssey? It was all right. I just didn’t find it gave me that rush that the 2D games did. I feel it lacked the charm Mario 64 did. If it was the game we got instead of Sunshine, well back then I probably would have disliked it for how drastically different it was. Opinions on Mario games are always going to be subjective to what you have come to expect from them. Each game shifts what is acceptable and in doing so might breath fresh life into an old title or bring to focus flaws we overlooked. So go back and give those old ones a second shot, it’s a long time since 2007 ya know.