Soapbox features enable our individual writers to voice their own opinions on hot topics, opinions that may not necessarily be the voice of the site. In this piece, Kate argues that Mario's Doomsday might not be as bad an event as you think...
Let's begin with a tally of everything that's going down after the 31st March, 2021:
- Super Mario 3D All-Stars will no longer be available for sale, digitally or physically
- Super Mario Bros. 35 will no longer be on the Nintendo eShop
- The Super Mario Bros. Game and Watch will no longer be available
- Super Mario Maker's online services will be terminated
- Netflix is taking down the Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoon
It is, in short, not going to be a fantastic day for Mario fans, despite coming at the end of a year's worth of 35th-anniversary celebrations for the moustachioed plumber. But instead of seeing it as an end, I'm choosing to see it as a beginning: a chance for someone else to take the limelight.
Being a Mario fan is pretty easy, especially compared to being, say, a Metroid fan, an F-Zero fan, or a Zelda fan who doesn't like ports. Mario has long been Nintendo's golden child, the one who gets lavish birthday parties, a theme park, and pretty much all the glory, and while that rank is deserved – he is, after all, the oldest, and the official mascot of Nintendo – it can be a little tiring for people who don't love him the best.
And anyone who's read the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, or Joseph and his technicolour dreamcoat (or just watched the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical) knows what happens when one child is given all the attention at the expense of others: he gets murdered and/or sold to strangers.
Now, that's not going to happen to Mario – mostly because that's a bit harsh for a family-friendly company – but, honestly, the March 31st shutdowns might allow other games to get a little bit of the attention, too. I won't argue that it isn't a little anti-consumer to almost literally snatch games out of our hands, but there's a difference between "limited time only!" and "we decided to delete this because screw you, that's why." Nintendo failed in its messaging, more than anything, making "limited time only" seem like it was a forever sort of thing. That's on Nintendo, really – and it's backfired pretty badly, but it can't take it back now.
The main issue with a year-long anniversary is that it's only a year long. It has to have an end, and that end is going to disappoint people. The servers for Super Mario Bros. 35 were presumably set up only for the year – those things are costly and time-consuming to run, after all. But those servers might be freed up for something else as a result – maybe something for Zelda's 35th, which starts in July (but let's not get our hopes up).
People expect a lot from Nintendo, and although I don't feel sorry for the multi-billion-dollar company – it'll be fine, I'm sure – I do feel a pang of sympathy for Nintendo trying to meet expectations, sometimes. It gave people a "free" game (you still need a Nintendo Switch Online account, of course) as a celebration, and people complained that it wasn't free forever. They re-released three classic Mario games for a fraction of the original price of each (a very un-Nintendo thing to do) and people were unhappy that it was only on sale for a year. Super Mario Maker's online services being terminated makes sense for a game that's almost six years old on a console that didn't sell well. The mistake here is making all of these happen on the same day. That's just not a great look.
I know it's silly to have hopes, but I do like to think that Nintendo has a plan. I don't think it is quite as evil as this whole March 31st thing has been made to seem, though I do think it comes across as a little unfriendly. I can imagine that it seemed like a fitting end to a year that was all about Mario, and it got plenty of attention and press for the games, too. But isn't it about time that Mario
died gave someone else the microphone, anyway? I hope that Nintendo's "plan" from the 1st of April onwards involves showing at least a fraction of that same love to its neglected games.
It's okay to be disappointed about the 31st of March. It's even okay to be a bit annoyed about it. But everything dies eventually, and when one thing dies, it leaves room for something else to take its place – and doesn't that sound exciting?