Mario, the Nintendo mascot, is probably one of the most iconic video game characters to date. Young gamers have played his games, teen gamers have played his games and the more seasoned gamers have definitely played his games. He has saved Princess Peach on several occasions, he has raced go-karts, he has played sports, he’s brawled and he has even saved the galaxy… twice. So, what exactly is left for the red-suited plumber to do? Granted, Super Mario Galaxy is a great game on its own merits and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars stands as one of my favorite video games of all time, but what exactly is left for Mario to accomplish? Is there really anything new and exciting that this character can do?
I bring this up because I recently played Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8 and, even though I enjoyed them for nostalgic values, they have barely changed anything about the game that I grew up with. Even the new Super Mario Maker, that allows players to create their own Super Mario levels, doesn't really add anything new to the gameplay. Now, some of you may not think that this is a bad thing but game franchises that constantly recycle their own ideas never last too long.
Look how well Dead Space, Call of Duty, The Sims, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil and Sonic the Hedgehog are turning out. I don’t want a beloved video game franchise from my childhood to fall into the same money hungry pit that Call of Duty got sucked into. However, there is one thing that Nintendo is doing that can bring the Mario franchise back into full circle. They are finally putting Mario's brother, Luigi, to good use.
When you really get down to it, Mario doesn’t really have a personality. He's just portrayed as a good Samaritan who wants to save the princess and just happens to act like a major Italian stereotype. Luigi, on the other hand, is portrayed as an easily frightened Ghostbuster who always manages to swallows his fear and go head first into peril to save the day.
However, despite this, he's constantly cast into the shadow of his older and less interesting brother and always feels like he needs to prove himself to be as talented and brave as Mario. When Luigi's Mansion was release on the Gamecube back in 2001, a lot of gamers and critics slammed the game because it was a conventional Mario game with the platforming game mechanic.
Well of course the gameplay was different, Luigi’s Mansion is not a Mario game, it is a Luigi game. Luigi's Mansion gave Luigi his own side-characters, his own gameplay and even his own arch-nemesis, King Boo who acts as the antagonist in both Luigi’s Mansion and the sequel, Dark Moon. Nintendo has even teamed up the two brothers in their more recent RPG games. Players are able to switch between the two brothers during combat and platforming and it really works well for their games. I thoroughly enjoy most of the Mario RPG games that Nintendo releases. Maybe Nintendo at some point will release a game where Mario and Luigi will combine their different gameplay styles and have to go up against both Bowser and King Boo together. I would definitely play that.
We can only hope that Luigi is enough to bring Mario out of his rut and put this once great franchise back on track, because that dumb game where you play as Princess Toadstool and crying is an attack is not helping at all. We should let Nintendo know that we want more Luigi games because I'm very interested in where they can go with this character and this franchise. Heck, I think even a more respectable Princess Toadstool game could be kind of interesting to try. I just think Mario should play more of side character role for some future games and let someone else have the spotlight for a little while.