Video games have come a long way since Ralph Baer first created Pong. The industry has given us as gamers beautiful, graphical, artistic games that have taken our breath away. They have woven incredible stories and powerful emotions into a game. They have also taken games that started as simplistic 8-bit arcade games and re-invented them in new innovative ways.
One of the greatest examples of this is Mario. He stole our hearts and thumbs back in 1981 when he first appeared as “Jumpman” in the original Donkey Kong. His popularity grew, warranting his own title in Super Mario Bros. This game set the standard for platformer titles. Then in 1992 after a series of other Mario platformers, Nintendo released Super Mario Kart, and yet again Mario redefined a genre, leaving his mustached mark on racing games. You would think that’s all Mario would need to brag about, but not four years later, Super Mario 64 was released, and another barrier was broken, setting a bar for 3-D platformer games. This spawned even more Mario games like Super Mario Sunshine. (my personal favorite of the Mario games)
Mario certainly made a name for himself, but that’s not even all of it. With Mario Party, Super Smash Bros, and even a Mario typing game, Mario has been in plenty of games. In fact Mario has made appearances in more than two hundred games! In 2006 Mario starred in New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS, and soon after its success, New Super Mario Bros Wii came out. Both of these games were very fun, albeit the same basic game, and resorted the original Super Mario Bros. style of play with modern graphics. Soon after, Mario showed he can still have creative, innovative games with Mario Galaxy 1&2. Finally, just last year the Wii U made its debut and opened up with New Super Mario Bros U. This game was met with some frustration (myself included) because of its similarities to the previous New Super Mario Bros games. In fact the game was basically a carbon copy with a few added tweaks, like the “squirrel suit.” This is a bad trend to start.
Should Mario games, like Call of Duty, start making sequels with a “if it ‘aint broke don’t fix it” mentality? I certainly hope not! In my honest opinion, if Nintendo wants to keep Mario’s legacy intact they will have to start taking risks again. Sure, a game like Super Mario Bros Wii was just asking to be made, and a new Super Smash Bros would be great, but Nintendo has to draw the line somewhere. Making carbon copies of games to make sales or sell a system isn’t what Nintendo is or ever was about. Games like Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros, and Mario Kart all came about by creativity and innovation. I hope that Nintendo can take a turn soon that will lead them toward their weird, creative, and insanely fun games; a revival of the Super Mario World series, or maybe Super Mario Sunshine 2! Sure we will always keep buying Mario games, and that’s because he made a great name for himself. We can only hope that name stays intact with the addition of new Mario games to the franchise.