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Who said Italian plumbers can't (still) jump?

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Early this morning I was compelled to write something about the Super Mario franchise. This article is for the most part, an opinion piece with facts in between, and a divisive counter-argument to gamers everywhere who reject Nintendo as a serious industry.

The Nintendo brand and its affiliated IPs (Intellectual Properties), home consoles and portable consoles keep getting bashed by reviews and commenters alike on the web. I lurk gaming websites of all kinds daily, and these common ignorances appear almost every single time. The following will be my answer to these three commonplace statements.

‘No one buys Mario games anymore.’

‘Nintendo are flogging a dead horse with the Mario franchise.’

‘I played Super Mario 3 back when I was a kid, so I’ve pretty much played them all.’

The Super Mario franchise has sold (on average) 12 million copies of every main entry in the series since the first 3 years of its inception in 1985. Of course there are various dips and surges in particular titles and the most noticeable is Super Mario 3D Land for the Wii U which so far, has accrued 2.17 million sales. This is a figure indeed dented by the Wii U’s sales performance which has absolutely been lower than expected. I expect that after Mario Kart 8‘s left to circulate for another few months, Super Mario 3D Land‘s figures will be a different story – especially seeing as currently, one out of three Wii U owners have Mario Kart 8!
Flamers in popular and unpopular forums around the web alike seem to believe Mario Kart 8 won’t save the Wii U. Well, OK. I’m sure the first HD installment of one of Nintendo’s biggest and longest running IP’s won’t move consoles. Actually, yes it will. Obviously no figures yet, but I expect a huge surge following a steady incline in Wii U sales for a good year after its release on 31st May (AEST time). I’m not entirely certain about what Smash Bros. 4 will do for the console though, only because I believe releasing the game on the 3DS months before it’s big-brother home console might have a negative impact on the latter’s sales. Only time will tell how that plan will unfold.

Super Mario 3D Land’s sales do not mean it is a terrible game, nor does it mean it is the same game as ‘any other Mario title’. To put a friendly juxtaposition in effect, Activition’s Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 sold 24 million copies. This also does not mean it is a good game. It is not an incredible source to cite, but for a quick comparison, Super Mario 3D Land scored 8.3/10 by users on metacritic.com. Call of Duty Black Ops 2 scored 4.5/10 on the same site. Now tell me which company’s IP is being overused and spat out. Call of Duty may have been big once, but it’s as bland as ever in recent years and from personal perspective, the series is slipping away from the wide audience it once captivated.

Nintendo over-doing Mario? Maybe take a look back at the six Assassin’s Creed games that were released in the last two years. Nintendo fine tune each Mario game to be a different experience. They are absolutely not ‘all the same game’. If you played Super Mario 3 on the SNES, you have not played New Super Mario Bros 2 for 3DS. No, you haven’t. It’s a different game, with absolutely new level design, new enemies, bosses, power-ups and in most cases, new graphics engine. I mean, I’m aware that all FPS games aren’t the same. That doesn’t mean FPS franchises don’t get boring as hell to me. But if you like that style of videogame, play it!

In the end, the main argument that I’m sorely failing to deliver is, if you like platformers, keep playing them, and keep enjoying them. The same goes if you can play those six Assassin’s Creed games I was talking about earlier, or the entire Call of Duty franchise. Puzzle, action, JRPG, rhythm-based, dance, racing, even arcade style games are all great in their own way.

Video games are a place to escape to, they’re each a unique experience. The interactivity of a videogame whether on your TV or portable console simply separates the medium from film and written material. I’m going to keep playing Mario, Zelda and Pokémon titles as long as I keep enjoying them. I’m not going to condescend to anyone if they enjoy Dead Island but also Animal Crossing New Leaf. There’s really no point in bothering someone for it. We’re being socially driven by a consumerism-based market that tells us what we should enjoy and what we shouldn’t and the big publishers are clearly profiting from it.

Play the games you love, and don’t hate other people for playing the games you don’t. Share the games you do enjoy, and if someone isn’t interested in borrowing your copy of the 2013 release Tomb Raider, then whatever, no one says they have to show any interest at all. Wake up and keep loving the games that you really do love.