I think I’ve figured out the problem I’ve had with the Mario games since Super Mario 3D Land back in 2011: it’s all about the design. Super Mario 3D Land was varied, with the developers tossing out new mechanics left and right that never feel overused, and level designs that were colorful and unique. But then there were those other pesky New Super Mario Bros. games. Those were the ones that felt stale; they lacked creativity and that spark of something special that made games like 3D Land so much fun. Super Mario 3D World continues the philosophy of 3D Land, as well as the philosophy of most modern Nintendo games: it’s varied and quite enjoyable most of the time, but also has the tendency to get stale quickly.
Hi, my name is Clint and I am a transmedia consumer. I’ve watched video game movies and short series. I’ve read video game comic books. I’ve even been known to dabbled in video game novels from time to time. Whew, that was a difficult thing to get off my chest. Okay, Clint, you’re alright. Take a deep breath and everything will be okay.
In an Iwata Asks on Paper Mario: Sticker Star, the designers were talking about story. It was said that Miyamoto didn’t like the idea of a story in a Mario game, “It’s fine without a story, so do we really need one?” And that got me thinking about all of the Mario games’ stories. Each one creates a similar base-line plot and that hasn’t changed in over 25 years: Bowser kidnaps Peach and Mario saves her. It isn’t interesting, exciting, different, or groundbreaking; it’s just a series of levels to get you to the end of the game.
This week, Nintendo announced another slew of upcoming titles including a Mario, Zelda, and Yoshi game. You can almost guarantee in that Mario game you’ll be saving Princess Peach from Bowser, and that Zelda game will have you save the Princess from the evil Ganon, and that Yoshi game will have you eat apples. But video games are unique story-telling devices, and it doesn’t have to be just that flat archetypal narrative. It can be as simple as giving the enemy a reason to fight, rather than just being evil.
The Paper Mario series holds a special place in my heart. I loved the first installment, and Thousand Year Door is my favorite Gamecube game, but I did skip out on Super Paper Mario for the Wii when I heard that it didn’t compare to the other entries in the series. When Paper Mario Sticker Star was announced at E3 two years ago, I was very excited to dive back into the series and expand my 3DS library. After finishing Sticker Star, I am conflicted.
In 2007, the Wii launched with Wii Sports as a pack in game. That series of mini-games became ubiquitous to the Wii and defined motion control gaming for a generation. With the Wii U, Nintendo changed their controller drastically and Nintendo Land is their attempt at defining what this controller means to a new generation. I decided the best way to really understand what Nintendo hoped to achieve with Nintendo Land was to gather my family together and spend an entire day playing the various “attractions” of Nintendo Land. What followed was the most fun my family has had playing video games with me since Wii Sports, and that is exactly what Nintendo was hoping for.
Nintendo’s flagship franchise faces a problem that so many series’ this late in their game are susceptible to: fatigue. There have been five “New” games in about as many years, and we haven’t had a proper 3D Mario since 2010’s Super Mario Galaxy 2. Just earlier this year we had New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the 3DS, which was received in a decidedly mixed fashion. I think most people agree that Mario needs a jump-start, or a break, or anything that could mitigate what’s fast becoming over-saturation. New Super Mario Bros. U is an immaculate and pretty game that relieves none of that dread or tension.
In this episode the Error! Report crew kick things off with a long list of what has been going on lately. From boat rides, to Comic-Con we discuss just about everything possible in the entertainment […]