Monday, 10 September 2012

New Super Mario Bros. Is Not Being Milked

This year there will be two entries in the New Super Mario Bros. series, this will bring the total number of games in the New Super series to four. A lot of people are complaining that Nintendo are milking the series and are not doing enough to make each game seem fresh.

This is madness.

The first game in the New Super Mario Bros. series launched for the Nintendo DS in 2006 and it's main aim was to introduce a whole new generation of gamers to the wonderful world that is 2D Mario. It worked wonderfully and sold in the millions, it also provided plenty of other gamers with a hefty dose of nostalgia and didn't need to be too innovative because to the new generation it was something new that they hadn't experienced before. Still though new power-ups were added just to make things a tiny bit different. It was the only New Super Mario Bros. game on the DS, a console whose life began in 2004 and is still going now in 2012. One game, one console, eight years.

The next instalment came on the Wii and is one of that consoles most critically and commercially successful games. It largely stuck to the same formula we all know and love but it also gave us a four player co-op option, something fans of the series had been crying out for for years. So it was new and it innovated enough to keep things fresh. It was also the only New Super game on the Wii a console whose life began in in 2006 and is still going now in 2012. One game, one console, six years.

Now is where people start getting tetchy because the 3DS' New Super Mario Bros. 2 does innovate with its new coin rush mode and it's new focus on coin collecting but many feel that this is not enough to keep it fresh, personally, as it's only the third game in the series so the idea isn't old and stale, it still does enough to keep me satisfied that enough new ideas are being tried. The problem people have is that in the same year the Wii U will be getting a game and people think that this is overkill and that there cannot possibly be enough difference between the two games. Really? The sheer amount of potential for innovation that the GamePad and Miiverse offers the series is ludicrous. For starters if someone is watching the TV you can still play it on the smaller touchscreen which will offer all the benefits of the DS touchscreen in terms of power up selection etc. and mean you wont have to stop playing just because the TV is already in use. And with Miiverse gamers will finally have a place dedicated to talking about the game which they can use while still playing the game. Add to this the HD graphics (a first for Mario) and any gameplay changes such as new modes and power ups that are inevitable and you'll have a pretty fresh new instalment in the series.

Now if you look back to the Wii and DS games in the series you'll see that the series only has one game per console and Iwata has stated that it is unlikely this will change. So one game per console with each new game featuring either new modes or power ups or a combination of the two. How is the franchise being milked and how is it not innovative enough? Nintendo could easily get two instalments in per console and it would sell by the truckload and although sometimes the changes aren't huge they are there and do keep things fresh without the formula having to be ruined. Are people just too demanding?

It seems to me that the New Super series is meant to show new gamers what 2D Mario is all about whilst giving older gamers some new 2D Mario fun whilst also making some changes and tweaks. It isn't meant to revolutionise but it can't be accused of tiring the formula out either. 3D Mario is where the revolutions lie with each new part of the series (64, Sunshine and the Galaxy games) being radically different to each other. What Nintendo have in the form of the 2D and 3D Mario is a truly great thing because they tap people's desire for nostalgia as well as innovation and give people games that are consistently well produced, well designed, well received and, most importantly, good fun. Sure New Super Mario Bros. 2 wasn't quite as different as it could have been but it still tried and with Mario Cram School churning out new level designers for 2D Mario games it is only a matter of time until little innovations become fully fledged re-imaginings. For those of you who don't know what the school is it is intended to intensively train people who are new to the 2D Mario games to develop their own levels for a 2D Mario game, this will mean that when the old guard of Nintendo like Shigeru Miyamoto retire there will be new people to take their place.

Also let's bear in mind that Assassin's Creed was released in 2007, a year after the first New Super Smash Bros. and has had four main instalments and several spin offs and has yet to get stale, each instalment has pushed the series and it's gameplay forward and each game has been more fun than the last because of it. Sure a series like Call of Duty or Guitar Hero might get over milked but Mario clearly isn't, you can see this because there have only been four games in six years and only one game per console. Besides even if it was there would be no reason why things couldn't get reinvented, Call of Duty has become stale so Black Ops 2 is looking to shake things up, there is hope, even for milked franchises that seem to have nothing left to give.

I guess haters are going to hate but the more measured and intelligent gamers out there can hopefully see things for what they are. 2D Mario is not Guitar Hero, it is not being milked into an early grave and as long as intelligent people like Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata work for Nintendo I doubt that it ever will.

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  1. I think the problem is, the formula for the 'New' Super Mario Bros hasent changed all that much from the Mario games of old, they throw in new abilities (New Super Mario Bros had the mini and mega-mushrooms, the 3DS sequal has added in the golden 'coin-flower') or features (Adding multiplayer to the Wii version)
    But they are only small additions, and to people who have been with Mario since the NES days, its hard to see these as little more than minor tweaks, not huge changes such as the leap the series took with Mario Galaxy.

    Yes, there may only be 4 'New' Super Mario Titles, but they stand at the end of a long-existing line that has already done the same thing.

    1. Yes it is part of a longer line, one that ended in 1992 and the point is to show gamers who weren't around then what the series is like whilst also taking it forward. I agree the innovations may be small so far but they are there and they do keep things fresh and they will get more adventurous as time goes by.

  2. Have you been reading ?
    This is very much like a thread I read there.

    1. I do look at CVG on a daily basis but I rarely look through the forums in much depth so no I hadn't read that, there are some good points there though, thanks for the link.

  3. My opinion is they have attracted the gamers that have been around a while and a new generation of gamers. I don't think they are milking it, others may not agree, but I think they have done it ok.

  4. I think they have done the right thing here aiming for both new and older gamers. It's important to attract new and keep those that have been around a bit longer interested and I believe the New Super series does show new gamers what 2D Mario is about and gives those that have been around a bit longer a bit of new 2D Mario fun, the few changes, alterations were needed. Only my opinion of course but sure we all have our own thoughts on the matter.