Some of your readers may be in the younger generation whose first exposure to video games was around the N64/Playstation generation. So they may not fully comprehend what people like us are experiencing… That there is a 2D mario platformer currently in stores and we don’t own it. I would like to call more attention to this fact because this is HUGE.
Back in the 80′s and 90′s, Mario (as there was only one Mario, 2D Mario at the time) was an entertainment phenomenon. To those who experienced it, Mario immediately became a day one purchase. It represented something infallible like an ice cream sundae. Can one ever get a bad ice cream sundae, especially when there is hot fudge and caramel and jimmies and whipped cream and cherries and strawberries? You really can’t. So it was a given that when Nintendo released a new Mario, you didn’t even have to try it out. You could just buy it and be fully assured you were going to be completely satisfied.
I bought every single 2D Mario, including the game boy ones on day one. I didn’t have to think about it.
But something has changed. I will be interested to see the sales numbers for NSMB2 because I don’t think it is a huge seller anymore. While I bought NSMB and NSMBWii on day one, I have not rushed out to get NSMB2. This is monumental. And I have been trying to figure out why.
One of the reasons I have come up with is 2D Mario is now metered. You have said that Nintendo is not making new content, not exploring the Mushroom Kingdom further. While that is true, I think the bigger problem is Nintendo is taking away content in order to keep delivering the same amount of content each time. Let’s use the ice cream sundae analogy.
SMB1 was like your first bite of a sundae as a kid. Vanilla ice cream with hot fudge.
SMB2 was like ordering the same sundae but now with caramel and a cherry on top. SMB2 made the world bigger by including 4 characters and doors to a dark world. It felt like there was more content.
SMB3 now included a few extra scoops of ice cream along with whipped cream and nuts but still kept all the old toppings. Hammer Bros. were back along with new siblings and the world was much bigger with more levels. This game had both old content and new content.
SMW added even more scoops (more levels) and new toppings such as strawberries (yoshi) and marshmellow (secret exits). But the thing is, this game even kept the old toppings! The Koopa Kids were still involved and they even had those ninja creatures from SMB2 in it!
Each original Mario game added new content while still including content from the previous games. Thus you felt like each new game was going to be jam packed with content which made it worth its value and a day one purchase. When Mario turned 3D however, everything changed. Nintendo began removing stuff. The Koopa Kids went away. Airships went away. Yoshi went away. New stuff would get added like metal mario and the Mega Mushroom. But this new stuff would only stick around for one game and old stuff wouldn’t necessarily show up. Heck, you couldn’t even play as Luigi most of the time! There was no cohesion or consistency of content. And this development choice infected the NSMB series as well.
2D Mario now feels like a fixed size sundae with only 3 toppings on it at a time. This is the worst possible thing to happen to this brand. I believe 2D Mario was a system seller because it represented Nintendo trying to cram as many scoops of ice cream and as many toppings as possible into each installment without taking anything away. When this changes and Nintendo thinks I will keep buying each Mario game at a higher price but with the same amount of content or less than the previous one… aha, Nintendo has got another thing coming. I still have no incentive to buy a 3DS yet.
Nintendo’s business side needs to wake up. 2D Mario will not generate sales for Nintendo unless each installment has more content, not just different content. Pokemon has accomplished this. Each Pokemon installment brings new monsters but also includes every single one that came before. Smash Bros more or less gives this same impression to the consumer. So why can’t the elite R&D team led by the great and glorious Shigeru Miyamoto do it too?
If NSMBU doesn’t have more content than SMW or even NSMBWii, I don’t think it will set the Wii U sales on fire.
Also, back in that time period, the Nintendo brand and the Mario brand were identical. Mario appeared in every Nintendo game from Punch-Out to Tetris to the NES Sports games. Mario’s presence boosted these other games.3d Mario has never stood alone. It has been using the ‘content’ capital from the classic Mario games as has the Mario Kart franchise and various Mario Sports games. 2d Mario is not just a ‘formula’, it is the injection of fresh content into the Mushroom Kingdom. How old is Super Mario World? 22 years? Nintendo can only go so far reusing the same content over and over. Everything is stale.NSMB series feels exactly where the Mega Man series was at with Mega Man 4, 5, and 6. The games feel like cash ins.
Nintendo doesn’t care. They would be deliriously happy if 2d Mario doesn’t sell. This is why to me, Miyamoto is the quintessential jackass. He said, himself, the only purpose of NSMB 2 was to get people to buy DLC content. If that is not a ‘cash in’, I don’t know what is.
What’s going on is that people are rejecting Nintendo’s direction of NSMB as the ‘normal’ path for 2d Mario. 3d Mario apologists (both inside and outside Nintendo) are trying to spin this as decline of 2d Mario. They have to say that because 3d Mario still doesn’t sell. What is going on with NSMB is more like what went on with the latter half of the NES Mega Man games or with the Mario Kart games before Mario Kart DS.
Nintendo still doesn’t understand what made Classic Mario successful. They think putting the same people who worked on it to overseer the new games is enough (like Tezuka). But it isn’t. It’s not working. It’s obvious these people aren’t half as smart as they think they are.
The jackass named Shigeru Miyamoto originally presented NSMB U as NSMB Mii… that the ‘new feature’ would be playing as… Miis. Imagine if they presented a Zelda game like that. There is far more seething anger at Nintendo for their nonchalance behavior at the game that millions and millions see as the only reason to purchase a Nintendo console. It won’t appear on message forums because such people have too much of a life to post and read on forums all day. I think Nintendo recognized the immense negative reaction to NSMB Mii and are trying to reverse that with NSMB U. But they’ve run out of time. If the entire game’s development was made with people who actually cared (instead of people who began caring only after the negative E3 backlash), then perhaps we’d get something interesting.
Nintendo might as well give 2d Mario to third party companies to make since they show zero interest in making it. Why not give it to Retro Studios? “But this is a Nintendo game! It must be made by NCL!” By the way how it is being made, it looks like it was made by a third rate company instead of by Nintendo.
The Wii U is increasingly becoming a console that the only reason a Westerner would buy is for the Retro Games. The Wii U might do well in Japan, but why would anyone else want to buy it? If the West isn’t interested in buying the 3DS for Nintendo’s games, why is that going to be any different for the Wii U? We’ll see what Nintendo says on their launch date announcement. By the way how things are going, we may not see Iwata for the Nintendo Direct when the next Nintendo console launches.