Mario is missing

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”.

7 thoughts on “Mario is missing

  1. Yes, there’s going to be some Sonic game involving a sword, but I don’t think Mario is so celebrated because his games are spaced far apart. I think it’s simply because his games are actually good. Sonic games don’t come out that often, but the recent ones have just been outright bad. Sonic 360/PS3 was horrible. Shadow was kinda bad. When was the last time we heard about a console Sonic game that was actually awesome? Sonic Adventure 2, maybe? As in 7 years ago? (And yet, I’m still hoping for the Wii version of Sonic Unleashed to be good.)

    Games take a long time to make. Even with only two years between games, it still feels like a long time to fans. At least to me it does. If a “proper” Mario game came out every two years, I don’t think most of us would get all that tired of them. *shrug* I’m sure if Super Mario Galaxy 2 came out next year, everyone would be just as excited for it and the review scores would glow…

  2. @seinfeld: I thought it was Don Knotts actually.

    @Anthony: Does Mega Man count as a mascot? The series’ myriad spin-offs have worked in a way similar to the spin-off Mario games (Parties, Karts, Strikers, etc.). It is hard to compare Mega Man 9 to Super Mario Galaxy though. The two games are virtually polar opposites.

  3. There was a sonic game in Nintendo’s recent upcoming games for the Wii trailer. Looks like another Secret Rings game.

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