Talking Point: How 3DS Can Thrive at E3
Posted by Zach Kaplan
Nintendo should create a new Super Mario 64.
Wait, it is, with Super Mario 3DS right? Well, sure – but that's not what we mean, exactly. Take a look at the timeline – Super Mario Galaxy was a big step forward, as was Super Mario Sunshine before it, even if both made tweaks that some found disagreeable. But compared to the leap from Super Mario World to Super Mario 64, these are baby steps. Mario 64 did something new and incredible with an established and well-loved IP, evolving the franchise in ways that would change the face of gaming forever.
To take a series and place it in a 3D world seems like a pretty straightforward idea, but Nintendo did it practically perfectly with Super Mario 64. It was far from the bare minimum – in many ways, it was something altogether new. There was nothing in the formula before that could have predicted ideas like jumping into pictures to access levels, endless staircases, swinging Bowser by his tail, chasing a white rabbit around a watery cellar, collecting stars, revisiting altered levels with new goals, or luge-like racing against a penguin. These aspects and more make 64 a bigger step in the Mario series than has happened before or since.
Nintendo needs to re-capture that magic. When it rolled that retro-soaked 3DS footage, this is the sense memory it channelled. For all those watching who look back fondly on Nintendo's 64-bit dynamo, this magic is what "Nintendo 64" means.
And those same gamers remember the simple thought that followed – "Gee, that was cool, I wonder what X franchise would look like in a 3D world?" – and its aftermath when realised by plenty of studios that tried to slap a 64 or its equivalent onto a concept and call it a day. Paperboy 64. Earthworm Jim 3-D. Robotron 64. Asteroids Hyper 64. Blues Brothers 2000. Clayfighter 63 1/3. Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness. Superman. The list goes on. Not all of these games are inherently bad, they simply didn't explore the concept or flesh out the universe of the game as well as Super Mario 64.
Nintendo should show us new worlds not possible until the 3DS, not just familiar worlds in 3D.
As in the case of some games listed above, more and more 3DS owners are wondering if they're seeing the same thing – if, instead of seeing all of which the 3DS is capable, we're simply seeing developers answer the question, "What if this were in 3D?" We hunger for an evolution the type of which we associate with the Nintendo 64, the type of fully fleshed out sea changes that phrases like "Ocarina of Time" bring to mind, instead of what we're getting: "What if Ocarina of Time were in 3D?"
Of course, we will buy it, we will play it, and we will love it. We will be dazzled by it. But not in the same way that the original dazzled us, which took the universe of Zelda to places we had never imagined. Not in the same way that Super Mario 64 dazzled us and blew our minds. Nintendo needs to dazzle us like this once more.