So a few weeks ago, I was on a podcast with some friends talking about Nintendo. Well, trying to defend Nintendo more than anything else on my part. During the course of our conversation, it came down to this: the big N is very often viewed as being guilty of producing multiple rehashes and of generally recycling of gameplay. So I began to wonder – what might actually be a good way to showcase a classic character in a new, interesting way.
And then it came to me: Mario.
Mario needs to stop holding back.
See we all know that he’s “Super” Mario after getting that first mushroom, but I don’t think we’ve truly seen the extent of the plumber’s raw power. Think about it for a moment. Mario in “normal” mode has the ability to jump four to five times his own height, can punch brick platforms hard enough to shake the very structure they’re attached to, and doesn’t shatter his hands doing so repeatedly. Upon receiving a “Super Mushroom”, he doubles in size, appears to proportionally retain his jumping ability and can now punch brick platforms into pebbles.
That’s bricks, practically shattered into dust. Do you have any idea how much force that takes? Me neither, so I looked it up. Depending on the type of brick and the type of masonry, it can take between 1,600-15,000 psi to break a brick (sans whatever magic is infesting them). Mario straight up obliterates these things by the hundreds. I don’t know the equation that would be needed to calculate a rough estimate of the force exerted by one Mario punch, but rest assured it’s a lot. So here’s a thought: why not have a game where Mario has that level of power, but let him fully utilize it by, say, being able to punch forward, down or generally at anything that isn’t a brick?
Mario has been throwing punches at Bowser and his ilk for sometime now (around the Nintendo 64 days), but clearly he’s being held back. One punch should liquefy a goomba, and a kick should have the power to turn a koopa’s head into a record length field goal. Hell, if he were to just lean forward a bit and put that jumping power into running he would become a nigh-unstoppable engine of destruction to his foes. So perhaps he feels a sense of mercy that restrains his blows, or maybe even honor for the poor hapless waves of enemies who throw their lives away at his feet?
Or maybe Shy Guy blood just doesn’t come out of overalls.
So the Mario game where our hero has the power to go full on Mola Ram and punch clean through King Koopa’s chest? I would play that game. Well, all 3 minutes of it before the enemies of Mario surrendered to their new mustachioed God-king. You see, there’s an inherent flaw with this concept: the challenge would be gone.
Speed runs of the old games would be great with these unlocked powers, but taking control of a power-hungry, dark-hearted Mario who devours the land before him would result in decisively different gameplay. Jumping onto moving platforms would become a thing of tedium compared to smashing the Hammer Brothers into a fine pulp with their own weapons. See, I like to think that there’s a law of averages that has to be met in a game, comic, movie, whathaveyou. A hero or villain needs to face a worthy challenge. The problem is, as it stands now Bowser and his Koopa Kingdom are clearly not a match for Mario.
I personally wonder if he may have just been keeping them around for the amusement they provided all these years. On several occasions in Super Mario RPG that sentiment is very subtly implied. So how about a new threat for a new Mario Nintendo? I dunno, maybe something like magical giants? Not “giant” as in a giant turtle king that is a bit bigger than our hero, but giant like Shadow of the Colossus type? You could go crazy, have the levels taking place inside some mountain sized mechanoids letting you have another legitimate way to switch between platform and 3D views. I would go forth and release the fury and pain buried within me through the hands of my fine overalled friend!
Therefore, I present a simple solution that could possibly alleviate some of the tedium that my friends often complain about in the Mushroom Kingdom: new enemy blood, sprayed across new enemy landscapes!
Ultimately, that’s all I want. A Mario game with completely reworked mechanics, villains and worlds.
It’s not too much to ask for right?