So both that Sonic RPG by Bioware and Sonic Unleashed are due out this year, and on top of that there’s a rumor floating around that suggests another Sonic game will be announced at TGS next week. Seems like a lot of Sonic if you ask me — which got me thinking, oddly enough, about Mario.
[[image: ar_100108_mario_01.jpg:It’s…a me?:center:0]]
A few years back, a friend of mine (who hadn’t owned a Nintendo console since the SNES) said that, despite his preference for Sonic, he really respected how conservative Nintendo was with the character. It’s an odd thought, considering how Mario parties all the frickin’ time, plays every sport known to man, and has the ability to exist as a sheet of paper, but his reasoning went something like this: the sports and party games serve to slap a familiar face on the product for Mom to buy, and kind of keep Mario in the underlying gaming consciousness. Meanwhile, the “actual” Mario games are still huge events; sure, they’re usually very high quality, but they’re a big deal mostly because we’re all saying, “Damn, it’s been a long time since I got to do this!”
Really, it’s rather impressive. Much as Walt Disney retired Mickey when he feared the quality of his cartoons might go down while keeping the mouse as the company’s face for so long, so too does Nintendo trot out a proper Mario on an incredibly rare basis. Not to disparage any of the offshoot, particularly Paper Mario; rather, it’s simply impressive that Mario is, essentially, the sole survivor of the 8- and 16-bit mascot era. Stop and think about how exciting Super Mario Galaxy was to everyone last year and just how hard it would be for any other character to enjoy similar success after 25 years or more. I’m really tempted to dig out the article I read in college on what makes Disney’s mascot “timeless” to see what happens if I just substitute every occurrence of “Mickey Mouse” with “Mario”.