How Nintendo can do it.
Kid Icarus: Uprising bears almost no resemblance to its original formula, a fact that few take fault with as few hold onto it with such fondness as Super Mario or Legend of Zelda. Because of this, it cannot be the next Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time – but it can be something altogether different. Because, more or less, Kid Icarus is a new IP. All we've seen of it since the original NES release and its Game Boy sequel so long ago are Pit's reappearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. If Uprising fleshes out his world in the same way that 64 did for Mario, it could be a flagship title for the 3DS, and Pit could become the console's mascot. We've already seen that he'll be welcomed back fondly, and without a major title on another current console, not to mention the inherent connotations of a small thing soaring to great heights, the 3DS could become the Pit system, giving the 3DS a new feel and appeal for gamers new to the table who have yet to draw a dramatic distinction between the platform and its 2D predecessor.
Nintendo should make Kid Icarus: Uprising into the title it deserves to be, and it needs to show this off at E3 to get gamers to associate 3DS with a distinct personality, one that Pit could easily encompass.
Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart, Paper Mario and even Super Mario won't be the next Mario 64 either; we saw in Super Mario Sunshine what messing around with an established good thing can do to a game's reception, and, to varying degrees, these series depend on minor evolutions from game to game. If they follow this formula here, it will be, in some cases more than others, to their detriment. Nintendo has already said that it's planning new elements for Mario Kart 3DS, and hopefully will do the same for the rest. They can't be the next Super Mario 64 because, in gameplay terms, 64 was not the successor to Super Mario World – New Super Mario Bros. was. Instead of adding a water pack or a second driver, these games need to change the formula at its core, but subtly so, enough to keep long-time fans on board and maintain their interest, the way that Mario Kart 64 evolved from Super Mario Kart. Nintendo should make these titles improve upon its franchises in elemental ways that make them feel fresh and inventive. No gimmicks, but instead, something truly special.
There are some franchises for which Nintendo would risk alienating its core audiences by making the drastic and revolutionary changes that a new Super Mario 64 would. For these, Nintendo needs to remember what made them fun and appealing to begin with and build upon it in ways that only the 3DS can.
But Nintendo still needs a Super Mario 64, even if none of the above titles could fit the part. However, there is something that might fit perfectly. It's not unthinkable; it might even be likely, because so few would see it coming.