I’ve played a game featuring Jumpman — I mean Mario — every year since 1986. Whether it was the classic Original (not the dual Duck Hunt/Super Mario Bros., the single game one), Dr. Mario, or seeing him bash Captain Falcon in Super Smash Bros. Melee, I’ve really never not liked Mario — or his quieter, high jumping brother Luigi for that matter.
It’s pretty amazing that a character as unique as an Italian plumber, invented by Japanese video games master Shigeru Miyamoto, and set into a world of mushrooms and Koopas could stand the tests of time and remain one of the key faces worldwide for video games even as Sony rose to dominance in the 1990’s with the Playstation brand.
That dominance is a testament to Nintendo and the geniuses that have worked there over the years, and who continue to work there today. Unlike Sony, Mario and Nintendo appear to be on the cusp of remaining a dominant power for years to come. Sure, there have been some stumbles, but this article “Brothers of Reinvention” from the Washington Post (mainstream press pub, nice!), puts the entire picture into perspective, with Mario and Luigi at the center. And I’ll concede that, yes, Nintendo is a corporation and Mario is their breadwinner, but it never really seemed that was the case from a gamer’s perspective. Can the same be said of others?
From the article: “There’s a Mario game in practically every flavor and genre — sports (“Mario Tennis: Power Tour”), racing (“Mario Kart: Double Dash!!”), adventure (“Mario Party 7”) — and like “The Sims,” the hugely successful PC franchise, Mario has proven to be girl-friendly too.”
There are those who criticize Nintendo for doing this; for exploiting the plumber in every genre imaginable. This might be true of weaker mascots, but for Nintendo its been a consistent moneymaker — not because people are blindly loyal, but because (like Strikers, the upcoming Three on Three), the games have been innovative and fun. Innovation and fun. What a strange concept in this day and age.
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