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Round Table: Mario's Past and Future

Posted by James Newton

Can we foresee the plumber hanging up his overalls?

As we leave March 2010, it's with deep sadness we also have to kiss goodbye to MAR10 Month. We've had podcasts, reviews of classic outings, high scores and plenty of discussion over the plumber's titles. What is it about Mario that draws such passion from Nintendo fans? We sat down to chew the fat and ask – and hopefully answer – the burning Mario-related questions.

James Newton: Let's get right to the nub of the matter: do Mario games deserve all the praise heaped upon them as a series?

Trevor Chan: I think so, for sure. The Mario series has produced such a range of genres, most of which seem to be highly regarded. He's made a name in platform, racing, RPG, fighting, and party games on many generations of consoles/handhelds. Their approachable nature yet ability to offer long-term entertainment seems to be the backbone of their success.

Luke Westaway: Yeah definitely: from 2D to 3D, there's a consistency of quality that few franchises can match. The controls are always flawless...

James: Err, not always flawless – let's not forget the Super Mario 64 DS debacle!

Luke: As I was saying, the 2D games in particular were amazing pieces of innovative platforming, without any gimmicks. Moving to 3D, Mario 64 gave us one of the best control schemes ever, and playing the 3D Mario titles I'm still amazed at how simple it is to perform those crazy gymnastics. Mario games have always been perfectly pitched difficulty-wise, and more importantly: the music. Oh my God, the music!

Sean Aaron: For the most part Mario is wasted on me, but Nintendo clearly hit on a winning formula in the 80s and Super Mario Bros. defined the platforming genre. I can recall the fact that the NES port was arcade perfect; making it the system pack-in cart was a big selling point when it launched in the States.

In recent years Mario has been the place where Nintendo seems keen to show off their skills as game creators, introducing new technology and showcasing the capabilities of their current platforms. Whilst old-school fans may prefer the older NES and SNES Mario games, I like what they did when he moved to 3D. Giving Mario a voice in Mario 64 really helped make him fresh again: Charles Martinet does a great job of imbuing the character with the right level of enthusiasm, making Mario games today more fun than the older "jump of doom"-fests for people with low frustration points like me (though Mario 64 did that too). Super Mario Galaxy is still one of the best-looking games on the Wii and introduced a surprising story component which was nice to see develop as the game progressed.

Given the strong sales of games featuring the character on the current generation of Nintendo consoles, it's pretty clear that long-time fans of Nintendo consoles are also fans of Mario. Nintendo are wise to keep him going and giving him the attention he deserves.

Brad Long: As a series there's none been consistently as popular and mainstream as the Mario series. Not even Sonic the Hedgehog managed to produce the goods as much as Mario has.

James: Ooh, not sure I agree there Brad, but go on!

Brad: Nintendo has done a fantastic job of fleshing out completely new worlds in each game they bring out, giving us a constant breath of fresh air every time we delve into a new title. Out of all of the 2D platforms of the SNES/Genesis/TG-16 era, only the Mario series have really made the transition into the 3D generation. Many have tried to be innovative, but in the end most games can lend their roots to what's already been done in a Mario game.

Mario has also been a part of almost every genre imaginable (save for a RTS or FPS), and has never felt out of place no matter where he goes, though I think a Mario RTS involving sending hordes of Toads up against hordes of Goombas and Koopa Troopas would make a fantastic game in itself!

In essence, Mario IS the embodiment of gaming: anything with his name plastered on the front is a game worth playing.

James: Like you say Brad, Mario's done pretty much everything possible in gaming and, let's face it, he's knocking on a bit now. Can any of you see an end to Mario? When Nintendo might say, "that's enough"?

Sean: You may as well ask if we'll see an end to Nintendo! Clearly Nintendo treats Mario as one of the crown jewels. There have been duds in the past featuring the character (Mario is Missing, anyone?), but it's pretty clear this is the corporate mascot and therefore they're going to make sure he's treated well.

However nothing is forever and if there came a time when Mario was associated with a negative impression of the company, "uncool" or "dated" in some way, then I expect some kind of corporate rebranding exercise could take place. For now though Nintendo appears to have done an excellent job of doing a Mickey Mouse-style incremental character alteration that may well mean Mario is a timeless icon and we'll continue to see him in some form for as long as video games exist.

Brad: I can only ever see that the demise of Mario would mean something seriously went wrong with Nintendo and they went bankrupt. Of all the Nintendo franchises, when it comes to creating new games, Mario tends to get a the most attention. I believe Miyamoto has said on a number of occasions that he'll try most of his ideas in a Mario title, and anything that just doesn't work tends to get sent to the Zelda team to work with as the basis for that franchise.

Though I can't see Mario going anywhere anytime soon, like Sean said, nothing lasts forever! Though when Mario is constantly evolving the way he is, he's going to be very hard to kill! Even when Pokémon sells more games than Mario, Mario is still going to get the star treatment, and star treatment is what this plumber deserves! So to answer the question, I really can't see an end.

James: We're running out of space so gentlemen, closing thoughts on Mario please in no more than ten words. Go!

Sean: Mario is Nintendo, plain and simple. One wonders that they don't change the name of the company to Mintendo, just so the M on his hat will be the company initials! He's a colourful, heroic adventurer and, being a working class dude, a humble one at that. It's easy to see why Nintendo decided upon Mario to represent the company and I'm sure he'll continue to have noteworthy adventures for years to come!

Luke: He's not scared of dinosaurs, something we're all jealous of.

Brad: Mario is the God of gaming, and Sean can't count!

Sean: Oh yeah, I missed that didn't I? Um, Mario is really cool, he makes all the pretty girls drool?

James: I could be controversial and say something like "Mario isn't as good as Sonic and everyone knows it", but I'll go with "fat plumber plus loads of talented creators equals amazing productions."

Thanks as always to Nintendo Life staff for taking the time to have a good old chat, and of course hats off to Mario himself!

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User Comments (47)



theblackdragon said:

Some people say this isn't the best Mario game ever. They're wrong.
i love whoever wrote that caption. SMB3 is indeed the best~



suburban_sensei said:

I agree. Super Mario World will always be just a notch higher in my book, but SMB3 is a close second.



Maxsh said:

I also agree with pikmaniac, but then again, I'm still a rabid Sonic fanboy after all these years so what do I know. :]



theblackdragon said:

no way, guys, SMB3 was the best, if only by a slim margin. it's honestly the more challenging game of the two, though i go back and play both regularly. :3



pixelman said:

You guys are all wrong. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is the best Mario game of all time.

Where's teh Superstar Saga love?! >:[



Linkuini said:

For me, SMB3 just barely edges out SMW thanks to its tighter focus on nail-biting action (still the most fun a gamer can have on an airship), but there's plenty to be said for the intricacy and scope of SMW: the incentive to poke around each level is unparalleled to this day.

The fact that so many of us consider Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario 64 DS to be low points just speaks for how great this series is. Actually, Sonic's kinda similar now that I think about it. Except he gets torn up by his "fans" if Sega even hints that they're trying something new with him. (No offense, James, I'm just talking about the ones that kept panning Sonic 4 before we had any more than a 12-second teaser for it) No wonder he keeps trying to get into games with Mario.



mnementh said:

SMG was perhaps the best game ever created... it's much better than the scrolling platformers and I like them too. The one I played the most though was Super Mario Land on the Gameboy.



V8_Ninja said:

V8 Ninja sides on the Super Mario World side to the ongoing SMW vs. SMB3 argument.



aaronsullivan said:

We are Mario crazy in our household. My little 4.5 year-old daughter is getting very good. NSMBW helped train her up good.

At first she was crazy over just watching us play Mario Galaxy. She tried it from time to time, but it was a little much to figure out the analog stick for her (she was 3 and 4). Still, we played it through 3 times over at least.

Well, then came NSMBW. We all played together through the whole game mastering the most amazing Mario move: The Bubble. In the meantime, she learned SO much and just floors me with the precision she gets and what she can pull off. (We are still getting all the star coins together)

Now she goes back and forth between that and SMB, SMB 2, and SMB 3, by herself, trying those. Much harder, of course, so she "makes" me go through them once she gets stuck or she's down to one guy. I love that she's 4.5 and is all old school. Thank you, Wii.

It really is amazing how enduring the basic gameplay is for the Mario games. Even though I get tired of playing one of the games over and over. Switching between them keeps it fresh.

(In case anyone is worried about my daughter's childhood being consumed by videogames, she also loves running and the outdoors and fishing and playgrounds and sword fighting and dressing up and digging up worms and drawing and painting, etc.)



ToneDeath said:

I can't believe I used to be embarrassed that my middle name is Luigi.

Oh, Mario? Yeah, cool guy.



aaronsullivan said:

As for the SMB3 vs SMW debate. I see it like this: SMB3 had the biggest burst of new ideas inside of the formula started by SMB, so you have this big expansion on what the game could be and it was solid proof that pretty graphics alone didn't make the game. (Just go back and forth between Genesis launch titles and SMB3. wow.)

SMW elevated the game into a longer term fascination. You could go back and pick up where you left off, return to stages to dig a little deeper, take different paths just for the sake of finding new tricks. It added adventure to the series.



Corbs said:

I think it's safe to say that SMB3 and SMW are both top shelf. That being said, if I had to only choose one, I'd still go with SMW.



ToneDeath said:

Okay, here's my (current) favourites of the different 'types' of Mario game.

2D: Super Mario World (SNES)
3D: Super Mario 64 (N64)
RPG: Paper Mario (N64)
Kart: Mario Kart DS (DS)
Sports: Mario Tennis (N64, GBC version was great too!)
Puzzle: Mario's Super Picross (SNES, VC)
Party: (None, I can't stand Mario Party games, so I'll pick WarioWare: Twisted instead! WA-HA-HAAA!)



Sean_Aaron said:

They all pale compared to Mario Bros., but then I also eat my toast buttered-side down...



SuperMarioFan96 said:

Super Mario World is my favorite game ever. Although I love almost all Mario games. I wasn't around in the NES, SNES, or N64 days, but I've bought all his platformers on virtual console (and I have the GBA version of SMW).



FonistofCruxis said:

I doubt mario will ever stop staring in games and I think the best is definetley SMG and I think it's the best game ever along with SSBB.



Kid_A said:

I think in 10 years when we look back at all the 2D platforming Mario games, we'll be able to say pretty confidently that NSMBW takes the cake...but until then, I guess I'll have to go with Super Mario World.



DarkLloyd said:

i dont want mario to stop i mean where would i get my mario fix if i ended up rebeating the other ones 100's of time



astarisborn94 said:

It's nice to see the return of the Round Table series. I've requested this a few times and it's nice to have an 2nd installment done.

BTW, that was a great and intereseting article there. Mario is an awesome franchise and will continue to be awesome.



cheetahman91 said:

I'm going with Super Mario World as my favorite also. Super Mario Galaxy is my favorite 3D one.

BTW, great article.



TKOWL said:

Nintendo Power has made a whole Magazine devoted completely to Mario! It's pretty awesome and has 29 stickers and fun facts about the Man himself. Great read.

Kudos to Nintendo for keeping Mario as fun as ever.



Rhansley64 said:

I don't get why some of you thinks that Super Mario World is better then Super Mario Bros 3 which in reality Super Mario Bros 3 has always been the greatest achievement in Video Game History heck let's see agrees, The Game Overthinker, heck even Gamespot, IGN and GT just to name a few can tell you that. Anyway my point is i understand why Super Mario World is loved i mean i never said Super Mario World is a bad is the opposite it was the second best Mario game on the SNES yes not counting Allstars Super Mario RPG is the best Mario SNES game, before i continue did anyone played the GBA version or the Allstarts version? cause if you don't your comparing a 16-bit game to a 8-bit game however the GBA and AllStars version is also 16-bit so compared it to 8-bit version doesn't do it justice. Also off all the Mario games Super Mario Bros 3 has been the most influence platform ever i mean heck even 3D mario games along with the New Super Mario Bros game on the DS and it's sequel on the Wii is mostly influence by Super Mario Bros 3. That's not all even do Super Mario World introduce Yoshi to us and new gameplay features that doesn't make it a superior game for one thing they downgrade the number of different power ups to the basic Fire Flower, Star and Cape i know there 4 different Yoshi but counting there abilities as power ups doesn't make sence. Super Mario Bros 3 has all the best idea's for one thing you where never limited to items heck Super Mario Bros 3 had Tanooki Mario, Hammer Mario (My all-time favorite Power up), Frog Suit Mario, Kuribo's Shoe has new Power ups compared to just standard Raccoon and Fire Flower and Star. Also the Level design in Super Mario World some of the Levels aren't that creative i'll admit do the Bonus Worlds where a hard argument over why Super Mario World is better but that isn't saying much since in Super Mario Bros 3 World 6 and 7 in particular had so many levels it was like they match up 4 worlds into 2. Also the level design where more creatieve like the memorable World 4 Giant Land, also those who had the GBA version had exclusive World called World-e i believe which was used for sort of DLC or in this case exclusive Card Content to input New Levels and Power Up Card (which is just getting unlimited suply of them i never used it since it's downgrade the challenge) i had only two e-cards do to a late purchased of Super Mario Advance 4 kinda regret (buying it late i never regret getting it i just wish i had it sooner) it but worth it to play Super Mario Bros 3 on the go. Anyway my point is Super Mario World is a amazing game but Super Mario Bros 3 is the Greatest Mario Game ever! (as of March 31 2010 since i post it on this date in time.)



Bakajin said:

For my part, I'll admit I'm biased. My parent's wouldn't let me have a console growing up, so I had to save up, buy an SNES behind their backs, and sneak it downstairs to play when they weren't around. SMW was the only game I had to play for a long time. I can intellectually understand that SMB3 might be the better game on some hypothetical objective scale, but I doubt it. Super Mario World rocks my world.

And as for 3D it's so hard to choose, but Sunshine might be my favorite. Never understood why it got so much hate.



motang said:

After all these years, Mario games still are one of the most game(s) to play, and looks like I ain't alone as those games sell!

Looking forward to Galaxy 2.



MakeMyBiscuit said:

That picture just makes me want Super Mario All Stars for the VC that much more.

Come on Nintendo, end my agony and release Super Mario All Stars on the VC!



JimLad said:

Why do so many insist Mario Bros 3 > Super Mario World?
SMB3 is a great game, but SMW is just epic. One word: Yoshi

As for the series as a whole, there have been several times when I think i'm getting sick of Mario but am proven wrong by another great game.
NSMBW I instantly groaned at upon seeing it at E3, now it is the most played game when friends come round. I would love to see a second, and probably a third. Galaxy is the same, so long as they keep coming up with great levels and power ups it will never get tiresome.



Chunky_Droid said:

I love how great Mario World is considering Miyamoto wanted more time with the game

Achievement-wise, SMB3 was one of the biggest games seen on the NES, whereas I believe if Mario World got a proper sequel (not the prequel) then it could've outdone SMB3

SMW has a bigger place in my heart though as I never owned a NES until a few years back



TKOWL said:

You're all wrong. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is better than all of those combined
And no, I'm not April-Fooling when I say that.



Kevin said:

I've NEVER considered SMB3 the best. I think World the original SMB and New Super Mario Bros. Wii are far better games than SMB3. And yes, I'm serious about the original SMB. An awesome game in the series that needs to be higher ranked than it is by the majority of Mario fans..



TheBeyond said:

I like NSMBW alot. It's like a combination of SMB3 and SMW. But, the best game is the All-Stars version of SMB3!




Mario is the best gaming character of all time. End of.

Super Mario Galaxy for me represents the very pinnacle of the Mario series and Nintendo console gaming in general.



Starkiller said:

Mario Sunshine may not be everyone's favourite,
You take that back! What's with the negative reception anyway?



Slapshot said:

1. Super Mario Bros Deluxe
2. Super Mario 64
3. Super Mario World
4. New Super Mario Wii
5. Super Mario 3

Yes, yes, yes.... bring on the Hate.... Slapshot can take a hit I promise



super-nintendo said:

Super Mario Bros. 3 all the way....those who prefer World probably couldn't/didn't beat Mario 3. It's true. Even Miyamoto himself expressed that he didn't think World turned out as well as he hoped. It's still a classic, but it doesn't have the soul Super Mario Bros. 3 has in spades.

And Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is much better than the first Super Mario World. My personal order (please note that all Mario games are classic to me, no hate here):

1.) Super Mario Bros. 3 (10/10)
2.) Super Mario Bros. (10/10)
3.) Super Mario Galaxy (10/10)
4.) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (10/10)
5.) Super Mario Sunshine (9.9/10)
6.) Super Mario 64 (9.8/10)
7.) New Super Mario Bros. Wii : I consider this a classic already. (9.6/10)
8.) Super Mario World (9.5/10)
9.) Super Mario Bros. 2 (9/10)
10.) NSMB DS (8.9/10)

Galaxy 2 is on the way, can't wait!!

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