Super Mario 3D for Wii U; What it should be like

With New Super Mario Bros 2 coming to 3DS later this year and New Super Mario Bros U being a Wii U launch title just a bit later than that, some people are feeling a bit bored of the constant New Super Mario Bros games and are wondering where the 3D Mario title for the Wii U.

And in part because of this, here are seven things I want in the 3D Mario game on Wii U when it is announced for the first time (maybe in 2013). Or maybe seven points that just describe what the game should be like, same thing.

1. Not a gimmick game

If there’s one issue I have with the 3D games, it’s that they always seem to have a gimmick as the main focus, usually limiting the scope somewhat. Sunshine had the tropical island theme (which admittedly didn’t leave a lot of room for interesting levels), Galaxy 1 and 2 had the space one and 3D Land basically tried to imitate a New Super Mario Bros game in 3D with linear levels and very traditional game mechanics. They were all good games, but I don’t think they ever quite managed to show what the series is capable of.

So what I want for the Wii U’s 3D Mario game is simple; no gimmicks, traditional 3D Mario style gameplay. No water jetpack, no island theme, no space and gravity mechanics, just Mario in the Mushroom World exploring interesting locations, collecting stars and platforming.

If you need a good illustration of what the game should be like, think Banjo Tooie or Conker’s Bad Fur Day, no overworld/hub with portals linking different areas, no gimmicky theme throughout, just a wide open world with the different levels connected in somewhat logical ways and more varied gameplay styles. Maybe think Paper Mario if it were a platformer (hang on, isn’t that basically what Banjo Kazooie is? It’s got the same focus on humour, the same generally open world with interesting locations and a somewhat quirky storyline).

That’s what I want for one thing, no gimmicks. It’s also why I don’t really like most fan ideas for future Mario games, because they all seem to revolve around some kind of gimmick or specific environment or idea. Like the ideas for some Super Mario Underground type game or some ocean based Mario game. I don’t want that to be the direction the Mario series will always take, I don’t want it to be too much like the Legend of Zelda where every game is basically ‘Zelda with a different main mechanic’, like Zelda with boats (The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass) or Zelda with masks (Majora’s Mask) or Zelda with flight (Skyward Sword). And it seems a bit like the recent 3D Mario games have been going the same way.

2. A Decent hub area or map

Either one works, although I have to say a sort of hub like in Mario 64 or Sunshine would probably be the best option, since finding secret levels and stars in them was a great part of the early 3D Mario games that was completely lost in the Galaxy series onwards (the Comet Observatory was a pretty boring hub, and the Starship Mario was as non thrilling as they come).

Maybe Toad Town could be a good hub location? Then again, that might make it look like the series is rehasing Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 which used Toad Town in much the same way. But it’s hard to really imagine another place to use in the Mushroom Kingdom given that Peach’s Castle has been done to death now (Mario 64/DS and Mario and Luigi Partners in Time).

Just don’t do what they did in Mario 3D Land and have what amounts to a straight line/level select screen with a lack of personality.

3. Just the right amount of story

Hard to explain exactly what that is, but I’d suspect it’d be a bit more than in Galaxy 2 or 3D Land and a bit less than in Sunshine or Galaxy 1.

Too much story can arguably kill a game entirely, so I’d rather it didn’t go too heavy on it for the same reasons as those numerous people who dislike Metroid Other M or recent Metal Gear Solid games. But we don’t need three hour cut scenes and emotional breakdowns in front of the character’s nemesis to have too much story in a Mario game, I’d say Galaxy 1 had too much of it as well.

In fact, the problem there was pretty much one thing; Rosalina. The problem was simply that it often felt the story was more about Rosalina than it was about Mario and co. It’s the same reason many people hate original characters in fan fiction, they’re almost a plot tumour so to speak that takes the focus away from the things people actually read the stories to read about.

And in Galaxy 1 this became most apparent during the ending, which turned from standard Mario saves the day to full blown mindscrew in its attempt to try and be all ‘deep’ and ‘meaningful’. And I don’t think that really made the game any better.

But I do see where people complaining about recent Mario plots being too shallow are coming from. In Galaxy 2 something was definitely missing atmosphere wise because the completely absent plot meant a lot of it felt kind of meaningless as a result.

So here’s how I think a slightly better story in a 3D Mario game could work. Remember Super Mario 63, that flash game which mixes Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine? Well I’ve always thought storyline and atmosphere wise it’s probably closer to an ideal Mario game than a lot of others, not being as over the top and patently ridiculous as Mushroom Kingdom Fusion (good, but it’s basically Smash Bros the platformer) and doesn’t introduce any silly original characters with lazy designs. In case you’re wondering how it does that, it just has it turn out Bowser’s planning to drop a meteor or something on the Mushroom Kingdom and his final castle is actually in outer space near his Galaxy Reactor. Simple, but gives just enough of an epic feel to keep the game interesting. I’d be fine with something like either Bowser turning out to have a deeper motivation or some man behind the man commanding Bowser and his troops from the shadows and ruling from some mysterious void/castle, something which keeps the standard Mario story and just expands on it a bit.

4. Super Mario 3D Land’s Power Up System

At least, for power ups which would work well with this kind of system. The Fire Flower and any flight related items? Would work perfectly like this. Don’t think it would extend to something like the Star or Vanish/Metal Caps from Super Mario 64. None the less, I want a system where Mario keeps a power up until he’s hit and can go between his normal and small forms depending on his current health like in Mario 3D Land, because I think it makes a lot more sense than having timed power ups.

It also means Nintendo has to find clever uses for the power ups rather than just using them as puzzle solving tools since they can be taken from level to level and used in any place the player wishes to use them in. It would open up Banjo Tooie like possibilities where powers have to be taken from one place to another to get different stars, and act as a real step up from the already interesting gameplay of Mario 64.

5. Go all out on the presentation

This would be the first 3D Mario game on a HD console, and damn everything about the design should reinforce this. There should be the best graphics money can buy (for a Mario game anyway, not too ultra realistic), the best orchestrated music Nintendo can have composed, an absolute ton of levels, etc. Basically, think like what Galaxy 1 did for the Wii, and do that for the Wii U.

And before anyone says that New Super Mario Bros is fine despite not being too fancy, keep in mind that:

1. New Super Mario Bros arguably should be more fancy/have more effort put into it than it does now.

and

2. The people who play 3D Mario games are more tech obsessed than the New Super Mario Bros fans. Basically, 3D Mario draws the Zelda type fanbase who care a lot for fancy graphics and huge worlds, and they tend to be the types of people only pleased by something ultra fancy.

Not to mention, the 3D platformer/exploration/collectathon genre is kind of currently dead, and if it ever has a shot at being revived properly a game as fancy as they come and with a literal ton of content is the best way to do it.

6. More ‘actual’ content, less padding

Because as much as I liked the extras in the past 3D Mario games, you can definitely tell they didn’t have the same level of effort put into them as the usually only 120 stars long main adventure.

Come on, look at what Nintendo did before and you can tell where the effort went:

Super Mario Galaxy: 120 stars, then beat the game as Luigi to reach the last level, a purple coin collecting romp in Toad Town. Only minor differences in second playthrough.

Super Mario Galaxy 2: 120 stars, then 120 green stars (thrown randomly in existing levels) with the Grandmaster Galaxy after that. Better than before, but you have to admit the green stars weren’t particularly well placed in many cases and the requirement to max out the star bit count for the final level seemed a bit of a cheap way to extend the game’s play time.

Super Mario 3D Land: 8 worlds, then 8 secret worlds and a long final level. This was better as the secret levels had some effort put into them (a lot in some cases), but you still had to admit the basic layout of each was often just a duplicate of those used in the first 8 worlds except with new enemies and objects placed in.

How about if the game just had something like 200 stars or levels or whatever, and most of them were placed before the standard final Bowser fight? If Donkey Kong 64 managed something like this about 10 years ago, surely a Mario game could do the same, right?

7. The same high quality level design as in the rest of the series

Not that I need to mention this given how great every Mario game up to this point has been, but whatever the inevitable 3D Mario game for Wii U is needs to have the same high standard of level design as seen in 64, Sunshine, Galaxy 1 and 2 and 3D Land.

But hey, Nintendo never screws this up anyway.

And that concludes my list of things I’d want in the next 3D Mario game coming to Wii U in future. What things do others here want from said game when it’s finally announced sometime in the far future?

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Sara
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Sara

I’m sorry but you keep using the word “gimmick” all to much. You need to understand that the term gimmick sells and if you class a tropical island and space as gimmick for a 3D Mario title you may as well call everything, and every game a gimmick, hell even Mario 64 must of been one big gimmick, you know, walking about in Peach’s castle and jumping into paintings and what-not. The word you are looming for is originality, in which Mario Sunshine and both Galaxy games had, but your idea of a 3D Mario games sounds very boring and… Read more »

Ed Armstrong
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Ed Armstrong

I agree that the new game should take cues from Mario 64 – although I’m actually much more of a fan of the Mario Galaxy series I would like to see a return to the more open world style gameplay found in 64 to keep things fresher (I also would like a return to the mushroom kingdom for the next console 3D Mario title). Personally I’d love to see a game where Mario and Luigi are both on the playing field together at all times – in one player mode the player could use traditional controls on the game pad… Read more »