Friday, December 13, 2013

Dear Nintendo: Enough Mario Already

The Wii U's November numbers according to the NPD were around 250,000. That is with a new 3D Mario game that just released, Super Mario 3D World. Now, one could argue that this was because the game wasn't a "true" 3D Mario like 64, Sunshine, or Galaxy. However, Super Mario 3D Land is the best selling 3D Mario anyway, so that argument falls short, as it does going off of the quality of World and it being a phenomenal game.

However, what Nintendo faces now is a system that is selling historically low, performing worse than SEGA's Dreamcast and much worse than the "failure" that was Nintendo's own GameCube (which at least the company turned a profit on, unlike the Wii U currently, which Nintendo takes a loss on with each system sold). While I've gone into the abundance of reasons why the Wii U was disastrously mismanaged, we can add another reason to the list-- there's just way too much Mario. He's not the system seller that Nintendo thought he was for the Wii U.

Mario has turned into much more than an annualized series. Many compare the overuse of Mario with Call of Duty, but that's not a fair comparison. For one, Call of Duty doesn't have dozens of spin-offs that release each year (I have yet to see my awesome idea of Call of Duty Kart: Brothers United come into fruition), but secondly, it's not like each Mario game is a copy and paste of the previous title, like Call of Duty pretty much is. Mario games are very different from one another, save for the New Super Mario Bros. series, but the focus there isn't in a new mechanic but new and creative levels. I have to be fair here, after all.

We're at a point in brand fatigue that even the greatest of Mario fans are tired of seeing the portly plumber plastered and shoehorned into every game imaginable because Nintendo is too scared of risk. Just for the past few years there has been Super Mario 3D World, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Mario Tennis Open, Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, New Super Mario Bros. 2, New Super Mario Bros. U, among others. To say that Nintendo is putting too much emphasis on Shigeru Miyamoto's creation is an understatement. We've never had this much Mario. It doesn't even matter that the majority of games are great. There's just too much, and it has weakened the series as evident by the low sales of Super Mario 3D World worldwide. A lot of people just don't want Mario anymore, and that's totally Nintendo and its management's fault.

A Mario for every game that he's been in.
(Am I joking or not?)
That isn't to say that 3D World's lower than expected sales mean it's completely series fatigue that is to blame. No, the low sales are also a symptom of being on a failed console. Of course, many believed that Super Mario 3D World would be a killer app and system seller for the Wii U, and as we know by the NPD figures, that was not the case. In fact, not even the majority of preexisting Wii U owners bought the game. Just what are Wii U owners playing anyway, or do GameStops around the world have a plethora of used Wii U's sitting in their storage rooms?

A darn shame this excellent game did not
receive the sales that it deserved.
Regardless, I'm not meaning to come across as wanting Mario to go away forever. I'm just suggesting Nintendo take Mario on a bit of a hiatus, as we know that absence makes the heart grow fonder. As it is now, despite all of the lower, middle, and higher quality games the series gives gamers, too much of a good thing is bad. Forgive me for another cliche colloquialism.

With the failure of the Wii U and Super Mario 3D World's low numbers, what can we expect from Nintendo? Will the very conservative company just play it safe and put out more low ambition/low innovation titles, or will they shake things up and deliver what fans have been clamoring for? We wouldn't mind seeing some old, forgotten IPs make a shining return, or maybe-- just maybe-- a new IP that gets as much marketing and budget as a top-tier Nintendo game. Nah, that would never happen...

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