Friday, January 29, 2010

Too old for Mario or too bored of Mario?

Stephen Totilo wrote a sort of introspective look at why adults play Mario games and it got me thinking about the plumber and why I think I've sort of burned out on the Nintendo mascot over the past few years.

Of course, it seems like a Mario game is released every other month these days, whether it be a Mario sports game, a new platformer in 3D, a new platformer in 2D, a remake of an older Mario game, or even a Mario RPG. All those different ways of playing the venerable platforming hero is enough to give any seasoned gamer a sense of fatigue. Hasn't Nintendo realized they're saturating the market?

The accessibility of Mario to gamers both young and old is certainly a selling point for the Nintendo business, as noted by Totilo and company, but it all comes out to being a little much for me. Having a character that can be exploited so readily and regularly makes that character a bit like white noise. If there's always a Mario game coming out, why should I care about any one specific title?

It doesn't help that the basic formula hasn't varied very drastically over the years. Don't get me wrong, I applaud Mario for leading the way in 3D platforming (and, consequentially, open world gaming), but now what does he do?

Long has the Mario name been slapped on games that might not sell so well under normal circumstances. Think back to Super Mario Bros. 2 and the vast changes in gameplay. Anyone in the know will tell you that the original title of that NES cart was Doki Doki Panic in Japan. Big N knows when to put an original title out and when to spray a fine coat of unoriginality over games (Spoiler Alert: Never!). (Consequentially, they also know not to sully the Mario name with terrible games all the time either).

That's what really brought me to this point in my gaming life. Long have I been a single console gamer, sticking with the Nintendo platform of the time. I opened a Nintendo 64 on Christmas years ago and never owned a Playstation. The Dreamcast, Xbox, and Playstation 2 all enticed me, but I relied on friend for time on those other consoles. I bought my Gamecube in a bundle from Costco. In my first year of college I lined up for what I thought ws going to be the biggest "Revolution" gaming was going to see, and picked up the Wii on day 1. I was happy and entertained by my purchase, but frustrated with the immature online structure. I wanted to play with friends while we were off at college. I decided to become a dual console owner and purchased an Xbox 360.

Little time passed before I realized I wasn't playing the Wii and that it's quality title all consisted of a similar theme: Nintendo's first-party mascot line up.

I guess as I've grown, I still appreciate what Mario has done for me and for gaming, but my senses have been lightly dulled from the constant shaking of the Mario money tree.

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