The Death of Mario

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Nintendo needs a new take on the whole Mario mythos.

Perhaps make the next game a dark introspective re-examination of the Mario archetype that peels away the outer layers of his identity and lays bare the warped and disturbed human being at it's core.
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It begins with Princess Peach being kidnapped. However, instead of setting out to rescue her Mario becomes plagued with doubts about his life and the endlessly repeating cycle it has become. He starts to wonder if his mission means anything or if he's simply playing a role in an ultimately absurd game that will keep repeating until the end of time. He questions whether he even has free will, or if his actions are guided by outside forces beyond his comprehension, a puppet dancing to the tides of a random, uncaring universe.
He abandons his mission to rescue Peach and goes on a journey of self discovery that ends with him leaving the boundary of the game's map and forming a new life for himself in a world completely his own where he can be free.

It'll just be called "Mario".

medv4380:
It's not that Mario BECAME ip from being a Character. He was never a character to begin with. He was never anything more than an IP sprite borrowed from Donkey Kong.

TheomanZero:
I'm not sure Mario ever was a "character" rather than intellectual property. Mario's sort of a proto-character, which probably comes from being in the game that began modern video games as we know them. He's essentially the least evolved video game character, coming from a time before "characters" really existed. If you try to impose a personality or character arc on him, it just makes him less like himself because he is a non-entity by nature. The benefit of this is that you can put him in a doctor's coat or go-kart or space and no one bats an eyebrow. Nothing is out of character for him because he has no character to be out of.

Nail, meet head. If the Mario franchise, if you can even call it that, is stagnating, it means one of two things: (1) Nintendo have suddenly gotten scared to use him as freely as they used to; or (2) Nintendo has completely run out of ideas for games altogether and can't even come up with something original to shoehorn him into.

Actually, scratch both those. They have been coming up with original games; they just haven't been putting Mario in them anymore, and not out of fear or anything. It's because they came up with the Miis. Wii Sports was originally going to be a Mario game in the vein of Mario Kart and Mario Party, but during development they built a generic stick-figure model as a placeholder, and something clicked in the designers' heads. NintendoLand is the worst offender: they literally dress the Miis in costumes of other Nintendo characters.

We live in a post-mascot world, all right, but it's not the mascots' fault; it's because Nintendo realized they don't need mascots when their games can just star the player themselves.

I gotta say man, Paper Mario Sticker Star is perhaps the worst Mario game I played since Mario Kart Wii...it just doesn't have any redeeming qualities. It is bland, lacks interesting characters for Mario to play off of, the plot is nonexistent, and for an RPG that's pretty unforgivable. I always try to be optimistic and look to the best in things...but for once I'm agreeing with every single point you made, especially what you said about the Playstation smash bros knock off.

Mario and Mickey as cultural zombies? That actually make a whole lot of sense. I agree.

Nope, they just need to give him to the same studio that made that excellent wii Donkey Kong game and metroid Prime. They basically take Nintendo franchises and give them back the life that Nintendo no longer had within themselves to give. I think it's Nintendo themselves that's stagnant, not their franchises.

But I do agree that Nintendo themselves aren't doing that great with Mario. As much as I love me some 2D Mario, lets face it. The new super Mario games are miles and miles behind Mario 3 and Mario world; some of the most amazing games of their times. As decent as New Super Mario-U is, it certainly isn't one of the more amazing games of this time, that's for sure... Hell I think the new Rayman games are the best platformers by far. They also show just how much better sprites look then that 2.5D crap.

Come on Nintendo, look and learn.

I don't know if Mario if is "dead" per se, but I do know one thing: he will always be used to make games. He is the most iconic character in all of video games. He is responsible in part for the popularity of video games today and is instantly recognizable to even those who have never played a game. Slapping his face on anything and it is guaranteed to make money. Nintendo could release Mario brand condoms and they would sell.

scorptatious:

SkarKrow:

Moth_Monk:
I don't understand why people think that Sonic is in a worse situation than Mario. At least Sonic still is a character...

I keep telling people on this site that Colours and Generations are fantastic games but they just don't listen.

Generations was pretty much the first Sonic games I've played since 06, and it was fantastic. Glad to see the blue blur is back on his feet for now.

OT: Meh, I don't really care that much about Mario anymore. I still look back at games like 64 and Paper Mario with fond memories, but I've kinda moved on from him now.

My only gripes were a lack of variety in the levels and shit bosses. Hopefully the next Sonic game will be of the same extremely high standard.

But unlike generations I hope it doesn't melt my CPU.

The point about corporations basically neutering their icons has bothered me for years. "The character will remain preserved forever in the state they are currently in, the prized possession of a corporate hive mind no longer concerned about emotion or growth but about ensuring that nothing associated with them is portrayed in anything that could be interpreted as a negative light"

Which is why I've never been interested in Mickey Mouse since Phantasia (the last time he actually did somehthing 'naughty' as far as I'm aware).

Conflict and character flaws are not the only source of energy in fiction but they're pretty bloody important. This is why I've always preferred Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Admittedly Donald Duck is flawed but frankly he's just not that funny. As Chuck Jones once put it "Bugs Bunny is what we'd like to be, clever, an answer for everything and always wins. What we actually are is Daffy Duck". So nowadays we have heros that are flawless, and it's the context of a situation that brings the conflict and therefore the drama.

It's hard to put my finger on but I've never been interested in Mickey Mouse, Superman, or Mario (admittedly as I don't have an interest in them I'm completely unaware if anyone ever HAS given them flaws and made them more interesting. I think Superman got some personality injected in the comics at times but what I'm referring to is the broader, public persona we get. I'm sure if you're a fan you've found very interesting personalities in these characters but I put it to you, you're probably projecting you're own interesting self on to them, I've never seen the do anything remotely interesting except when Superman loses it in the first film to save Margot Kidder - who went completely mental in later years, not surprising if you go back and watch her act).

They're all born heroes with no flaws and therefore to me, the most boring fuckers in the entire world. Give me Daffy Duck's and Wiley Coyotes sisyphean role of always being the loser. Give me Batman's fucked up agenda with his threadbare moral line. Give me Guybrush Threpwood's incompetence, or GlaDos' megalomania. Characters like Mario, Link, Master Chief, and even Gordon Freeman (even though HL2 is my favourite game) are dull automaton's. The only reason people like them is because they like the world those characters inhabit, it's got nothing to do with their personality, because they don't have one.

I never viewed Mario as a character, he was just an avatar who wore red overalls, had a silly moustache and couldn't even speak Italian.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
But when was the last time Mickey Mouse actually did anything?

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He has been quite the badass in the kingdom hearts games for one... >_>

Where he was a character that did stuff, don't lump him in with mario. :O

Happiness Assassin:
Nintendo could release Mario brand condoms and they would sell.

I'll be as oblique about this as I can but if I was a betting man I'd put my money on condoms with the red mushroom on them as a stronger seller. 'Cos you know. *ahem* Mushroom. Growth.

I havent really stopped enjoying any mario game. Sorry guys :(. I guess im a sucker for platforming titles.

SkarKrow:
snip

Really? I loved the bosses in Generations. Well, except the final one anyway.

SiskoBlue:
The point about corporations basically neutering their icons has bothered me for years. "The character will remain preserved forever in the state they are currently in, the prized possession of a corporate hive mind no longer concerned about emotion or growth but about ensuring that nothing associated with them is portrayed in anything that could be interpreted as a negative light"

Which is why I've never been interested in Mickey Mouse since Phantasia (the last time he actually did somehthing 'naughty' as far as I'm aware).

Conflict and character flaws are not the only source of energy in fiction but they're pretty bloody important. This is why I've always preferred Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Admittedly Donald Duck is flawed but frankly he's just not that funny. As Chuck Jones once put it "Bugs Bunny is what we'd like to be, clever, an answer for everything and always wins. What we actually are is Daffy Duck". So nowadays we have heros that are flawless, and it's the context of a situation that brings the conflict and therefore the drama.

It's hard to put my finger on but I've never been interested in Mickey Mouse, Superman, or Mario (admittedly as I don't have an interest in them I'm completely unaware if anyone ever HAS given them flaws and made them more interesting. I think Superman got some personality injected in the comics at times but what I'm referring to is the broader, public persona we get. I'm sure if you're a fan you've found very interesting personalities in these characters but I put it to you, you're probably projecting you're own interesting self on to them, I've never seen the do anything remotely interesting except when Superman loses it in the first film to save Margot Kidder - who went completely mental in later years, not surprising if you go back and watch her act).

They're all born heroes with no flaws and therefore to me, the most boring fuckers in the entire world. Give me Daffy Duck's and Wiley Coyotes sisyphean role of always being the loser. Give me Batman's fucked up agenda with his threadbare moral line. Give me Guybrush Threpwood's incompetence, or GlaDos' megalomania. Characters like Mario, Link, Master Chief, and even Gordon Freeman (even though HL2 is my favourite game) are dull automaton's. The only reason people like them is because they like the world those characters inhabit, it's got nothing to do with their personality, because they don't have one.

Give me bland characters over bad characters any day. I actually prefer Link and Mario to any Mass Effect character. Either they do it well like Portal, or keep it bland because the main reason I play games is for the gameplay and challenge.

A new Mario Sunshine would fix everything!
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So why exactly does Mario NEED to innovate? How exactly do you improve upon perfection?

I do like it when something fresh comes along, but I won't like Mario any less for being more or less the same.

Hell, the Mario series' "stagnation" is actually part of the reason why I like it so much. Other games experiment with new ideas, sometimes to the point where they bear little resemblance to what they once were.

But while other series need to change to improve their overall quality, Mario games are pretty much perfect as-is, so they don't need to delve into dangerous unexplored territory. Whereas with other games I might not anticipate how much fun or lack thereof I might have, with Mario I know that I'm going to like the game no matter what.

Yahtzee Croshaw:

Is it time to retire Nintendo's favored mascot?

Maybe just relegate him to mascot-only status? Isn't that the analogy you went for in the first place? He's still laying bricks, albeit shoddily.

He probably should have been retired years ago, but he still sells things.

There's no such thing as dignity for a fictitious character anyway.

Clearly Mario is in need of a re-contextualization. Some poignant and clever take on the illusory and superficially saccharine state of his world. Something like "Duke Nukem Forever." Not the shitty one that got released here. The fucking stellar genre-bending game that was released in the strange mirror universe where Yahtzee is a good guy who doesn't have a goatee...

Ugh... not sure. I do agree that Mario Galaxy 2 was one of the biggest mistakes Nintendo has ever made. All of the 3D Mario Games were fundamentally different. Mario Sunshine was not like Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy was unlike Mario Sunshine. Following up with Mario Galaxy 2 was a terrible idea. But i'm still not gonna lose hope until it turns out that the first 3D Mario game for the Wii U is gonna be called "Super Mario Galaxy 3"

PsychedelicDiamond:
Ugh... not sure. I do agree that Mario Galaxy 2 was one of the biggest mistakes Nintendo has ever made. All of the 3D Mario Games were fundamentally different. Mario Sunshine was not like Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy was unlike Mario Sunshine. Following up with Mario Galaxy 2 was a terrible idea. But i'm still not gonna lose hope until it turns out that the first 3D Mario game for the Wii U is gonna be called "Super Mario Galaxy 3"

Mario Galaxy was awesome, and therefore Mario Galaxy 2 was awesome. Your argument is invalid.

itsmeyouidiot:

PsychedelicDiamond:
Ugh... not sure. I do agree that Mario Galaxy 2 was one of the biggest mistakes Nintendo has ever made. All of the 3D Mario Games were fundamentally different. Mario Sunshine was not like Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy was unlike Mario Sunshine. Following up with Mario Galaxy 2 was a terrible idea. But i'm still not gonna lose hope until it turns out that the first 3D Mario game for the Wii U is gonna be called "Super Mario Galaxy 3"

Mario Galaxy was awesome, and therefore Mario Galaxy 2 was awesome. Your argument is invalid.

Blame it on nostalgia but i kinda prefer Sunshine. I liked the leveldesign more.

I have to agree with Yahtzee here. The Mario franchise is spluttering to a complete halt and Nintendo are too scared shitless about screwing the pooch to do anything about it.

scorptatious:

SkarKrow:
snip

Really? I loved the bosses in Generations. Well, except the final one anyway.

They're not great, not awful, but not great. I hate the last boss, I hate the giant faceless monster approach and I'd much rather have had a giant robot fight against both Robotniks. Otherwise I just didn't really enjoy them, I prefer the original fights in almost every instance but for Metal Sonic, Shadow and Egg Dragoon. Though I did quite like Silvers fight even though it pissed me off.

I found the Death Egg robot to be annoying and kind of dull, and Perfect Chaos is kinda boring, but at least it was different I guess. They were better than the ferris wheel bosses in Colours, but otherwise they're not the best the series has had.

Still enjoyable though, except on the 3DS version where every boss I've faced thus far apart from Big Arm has been kind of boring or tedious or outright cheap.

Mario either needs to take a break for at least a decade or at least get some other different story.

Have it start off where Mario, Luigi, Peach and Bowser are going through the ropes, throw in some huge problem that they need to overcome together that will destroy them all if they don't, and add character arcs.

In my opinion, things are just starting to stagnate.

TheProfessor234:
Have it start off where Mario, Luigi, Peach and Bowser are going through the ropes, throw in some huge problem that they need to overcome together that will destroy them all if they don't, and add character arcs.

Isn't that roughly the summary of the Mario RPG for the SNES, minus Luigi? Or a similar one with Bowsers Inside Story?

I think the problem is that Nintendo really screwed up this last year/2 years by really giving us way too many Mario games (around 5), which I still like, mind you, but it's annoying.

They made 3 platforming games (3D Land, NSMB2, and NSMBU) which are basically the same game, which are the same game that was Super Mario Bros 3.
They made Mario Kart 7 and Paper Mario: SS.

The problems is that all these games really stayed on the comfort zone, especially Paper Mario, what with the Forest, Desert, Ice, Fire world, which rarely had those settings.

-Nintendo needs to start changing elements in the games, ditch the themed worlds, or at least combine them, a desert/ice world hybrid, a forest that's on fire, anything.

Make a different platforming experience from the previous game, make the game more like Super Meat boy (short and hard stages) or those treasure stages from Rayman Origins. (Getting to a goal really fast)

Reintroduce elements from the other games, a branching world map, other characters that play differently (Like Mario 2), the old suits from Mario 3. (Hammer and Frog suit)

Make new enemies.

Make shooting stages a la Mario Land 2.

Create a new aesthetic, shit, Mario 2 has a tropical aesthetic, Mario 3 has a theater/play aesthetic, World is set in a Dinosaur Land, 64 has the paintings, Galaxy has the space aesthetic.

Right now, what Jim said is true, Nintendo needs to reformulate Mario, the next New Super Mario Bros has a chance of failing. Rayman and Meat really showed me that platforming isn't dead.

TheProfessor234:
Mario either needs to take a break for at least a decade or at least get some other different story.

Have it start off where Mario, Luigi, Peach and Bowser are going through the ropes, throw in some huge problem that they need to overcome together that will destroy them all if they don't, and add character arcs.

In my opinion, things are just starting to stagnate.

I would say a decade is excessive, Mario has at least 4/5 franchises to take care of, people went apeshit when a new Megaman game wasn't made for 2010, now it's 2 years and people are angrier than ever, the street fighter game didn't really work out.

Nintendo just needs to make the new 3D Mario and a new Mario & Luigi, then space out each release by 3/4 years at the end of the console or at the start of the new one.

I completely agree with the article.
Mario as a "character" is "dead", and has been for far longer than Mario Galaxy 1 as far as I'm concerned. (just because Nintendo put the game in space did not convince me I wasn't playing most of Mario 64 again)

Yes, his games are obviously popular enough to remain profitable, as is the merchandise but I cannot for the life of me find him to be spearheading anything significant beyond that. Nor do I take ANY interest in games starring Mario anymore.

In fact, I'd take that argument and apply more broadly to Nintendo as a whole. They own a stable of iconic characters and franchises, but what are they really doing? Nothing. They're just running in place (apart from maybe Kirby..maybe).

Metroid: Other M was the last time any of those franchises moved significantly beyond its familiar ground.
(it was pretty awful, but it wasn't just another retread of Super Metroid or Metroid Prime with a new gimmick tacked on)

It just feels like they have nothing left to offer beyond nostalgia.
(Pokemon is the same way, though at least Pokemon has a very deep, rich competitive metagame. Even if the regular game is way way too easy and boring as balls now)

Well, it's been a while since I felt that joy and hype of hearing/reading about a new Mario game. And since I'm one of those beasts that is not into 2D Mario games, the recent releases mean nothing to me.

On a side note; This video is pretty much says what I've been thinking about the NSMB games since the release of NSMB Wii.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5jwoWJVcws

I would love another Mario game with the depth of "Super Mario 64" for the wii.

"Mario is a cultural zombie." Yeah, that'll do for your intellectually flammable debate.
The gripe I have, however, is that Mickey Mouse is supposed to represent American culture. Really? Mickey Mouse more so than McDonald's? I mean, let's face it: somewhere out there in the world (let's say India) is a kid who has no idea about Mickey Mouse, Disney and all the rest of it, but he sure as hell knows that he can walk down the road and get a McCurry any night of the week.

Anoni Mus:
Give me bland characters over bad characters any day. I actually prefer Link and Mario to any Mass Effect character. Either they do it well like Portal, or keep it bland because the main reason I play games is for the gameplay and challenge.

I know what you mean, but I think we kind of have to suffer through bad characters to get good ones. Think of early films. The acting seems really hammy, nothing like real life, and way over the top at times. Acting is a craft that's been refined over and over until you get your Marlon Brandos, Jack Nickolson's. The reason Charlie Chaplin was so popular was because he could act well.

Games, relatively speaking, are still in their infancy. They are also not straight forward art. Games can be artistic, but as a recent article made me realise, the essence of a game is it's rules and engagement. Or to put it another way, chess is chess. You can play it with rocks, or have the most beautiful ornate board with moving models, that are clearly artistically designed. But it's still chess.

The hard part is that a great game can tell a story, but you can also have a great game that has zero story. I don't think we've figured out how to balance that fact in games.

I'd like to get worked up over this, but I really can't muster the energy. Mario was always an object rather than a person to me. His character development in all the games I've played (including SMRPG) has been nil. He seems to be motivated by rescuing the princess which is ultimately for... cake? (I believe there's a song expanding on cake as a metaphor).

So Mario is merely a vessel of entertainment for me. I never put myself in his shoes, I just bounced him around the colorful screens until the game was done. This notion is reinforced for me in that after SNES, or even before if you count games like Mario Kart, he has none of the same abilities. His one cornerstone that usually stays with him is the ability to jump higher than normal. But whereas Batman recognizably has his nice car and gadget belt and costume and stealth, Mario's all over the place.

So is he dead? Does this translate into something along the lines of 'Why aren't there more original Mario games, rawr'? It's obvious Mario can't go anywhere because Nintendo has shown by their releases over the years that they cannot create any more recognizable characters. The stable of SSB is about it: Samus, Link, Kirby, Mario, Donkey Kong, (Star Fox, Pikachu). Granted the creativity behind recent Mario releases hasn't been great, but I think it very likely they'll find some new way to adventure around with him in the future. For someone like Mario practicality is never a barrier -- the fact that he's been to space will not deter his next big feature from being him exploring a front lawn or something. One of his most popular games, Mario 64, was simply him messing around a variety of different landscapes/obstacle courses.

It's weird to think of a mushroom-eating Italian plumber who fights turtles becoming irrelevant; it kind of makes one cock one's head and go, "How did this ever become relevant in the first place?"

But I suppose the truth is that, recognizable as Mario became, the popularity of his franchise had more to do with the innovation and fun of his games than his mustache or suspenders. People flocked to Mario, sure- because they came to expect a certain experience when they were spending time with the plumber.

Which to me raises the question if the problem is with Mario himself, per se, or one more manifestation of either the timidity having a franchise you count on for your meal ticket can bring on (one more version of "sequelitis"), or perhaps even that it's become increasingly difficult to wring anything genuinely novel out of the genre we used to call "platformers".

Actually Mickey Mouse has been in some new kids' shows on the Disney Channel the last few years.

retrochimp:
the strange mirror universe where Yahtzee is a good guy who doesn't have a goatee...

mind = blown

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