One of the best surprises at this year’s E3 was the announcement of two new Mario games. All three platform makers had great showings, and there were certainly some interesting surprises (a Team Ninja Metroid!?), but for me none of that compares to the revelation that I’ll be getting a double dose of that pure, return-to-my-childhood fun that only an Italian plumber can provide. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a Mario fanboy, per se — I geek out over certain other franchises far more than this one — but there’s something about a full-fledged Mario game that makes my brain shut off save for the part shooting endorphins all over the place.
The only dilemma now is trying to figure out which one I’m more excited about. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the first time we’ve seen two true Mario entries on a single console since, what, the NES? (Yoshi’s Island, while probably the best platformer ever, doesn’t really count, despite being billed as Super Mario World 2.) And speaking of Yoshi, he’s back in a big way — and if the trailer was any indication, he’ll be far more useful than he was in Super Mario Sunshine. Galaxy put a big dopey grin on my face the whole way through, and the prospect of getting that again is incredibly tempting.
[[image: ar_060409_mario_01.jpg:Personally, I wish they’d announce THIS many Marios.:center:0]]
On the other hand, New Super Mario Bros. Wii was particularly surprising, since I — along with most of the free world — was expecting New Super Mario Bros. 2 on DS. Instead, we get a four-player console game. I’m equally excited about yet another high-profile 2D (ish) side scrolling console release and at having another multiplayer platformer besides LittleBigPlanet to play with friends (and, let’s be honest, we’ll have more fun with Mario’s more elegant physics). Heck, even the Vs. Mode in the first NSMB was pretty good, if a bit limited, so to see an expansion of that concept would be great. The game even has 80 or so levels, so it looks to be quite a full package. Of course, the real reason I’m excited is the apparent return of the Koopa Kids. Can’t say I’ll miss you, Bowser Jr.
Thankfully (or is that “unfortunately”?), I won’t have to choose: the absence of a release date almost certainly pushes Galaxy 2 to next year. [Miyamoto said as much at his Q&A, actually; it’s nearly ready to go, but they’ll be polishing it into next year. — JP] I considered making a bigger point about the significance of so many Marios on one system, of how this is Nintendo essentially patting itself on the back at this point for the Wii’s success, but I’m too busy smiling to get serious. I won’t ruin a happy moment with dour thoughts, nor will I turn this into Serious Video Gaming Business. As I said, there’s something special about the kind of smile Mario brings to my face, and that’s enough for me.
Maybe (well, almost certainly) somewhere out on the vast Internet someone isn’t happy about this. [Just check the comments to the preview you linked! — JP] I’ve been told there are people who don’t love Mario, who don’t have the same reaction I do, but I refuse to believe it. It would make me sad to think someone out there can’t be as happy as I am right now. No, I’d much rather cling to this child-like sense of awe and turn a blind eye to any evidence to the contrary. I know games aren’t for kids anymore, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still indulge in a little unabashed excitement from time to time. In theory, fun is what this medium is all about.