As the years have gone on, it seems like a fair amount of reviewers have begun to get tired of Mario Kart. With all the other Nintendo series getting regularly changed up and gimmicks being thrown in all over the place, the Mario Kart series has begun to seem like a series which merely makes evolutionary rather than revolutionary changes to the core formula in every game.
But forget that. Mario Kart 7 is a good game not because of any crazy gimmicks or massive ‘innovation’, but because the timeless formula works perfectly. It’s improved on the past games in every way that actually matters, the graphics and music are arguably better, the track design and choices are much better, the online is better and the gameplay itself is much fairer than the almost party like free for all that Mario Kart Wii turned into with twelve players.
For one thing, the graphics are fairly good. Are they perfect? No, they look a bit less clear than those in the Wii installment. But they have far more charm than many other recent Mario games do, and the tracks look amazing due to it. There’s no overwhelmingly bland New Super Mario Bros styling here, each track is filled with personality and actually looks top notch. You can see this best with Wario’s Galleon/Shipyard (which looks as eerie as possible), and Bowser’s Castle, which actually looks sort of menacing for once (especially those windows)
Plus, all the retro tracks look at least as good as in the source games (there’s nearly no difference between the Wii versions and 3DS versions), or much better in the case of anything from Mario Kart DS or prior.
Music is pretty good too. Bowser’s Castle has some nice music for instance, which even remixes parts of the theme from the Gamecube version into it! Other notable examples of good music include the theme from Rainbow Road (obviously), Donkey Kong Jungle (a remix of the Jungle Japes theme from Donkey Kong Country), Neo Bowser City (which actually mixes in part of Toad’s Turnpike from Mario Kart 64), and some of the retro tracks (Airship Fortress especially). At worst some music is a bit bland, but nothing gets grating or takes away from the atmosphere, and there’s thankfully no tunes that could be described as anything worse than ‘good’.
Recently, Nintendo has announced a new 2D Mario game that’s coming to the 3DS within the next fiscal year. So in anticipation of what will likely be a fantastic game and sell 3DS consoles within mere days, here are some ideas I had that would make the game that much better.
I’ve also got this very same article, albeit with less detail up as a Youtube video for those who want to see what I have to say with the addition of a fantastic remix of the Super Mario World castle theme. Check it out below if you want to, or keep reading for the full article.
And for any Nintendo employees who may happen to be reading this, mark my words. A 2D Mario game with the stuff I suggest would easily sell at least 30 million copies. Do you truly want the 3DS to be a DS or Wii level success? Follow my advice in this article when making the New Super Mario Bros game that’s coming soon and you’ll reap the rewards big time.
Here are the things I want:
1. More of a Super Mario World theme
Kind of the most important change I want really. You see, for too long, New Super Mario Bros and modern Mario games in general have been just a bit too heavily based on Super Mario Bros 1 and 3, neglecting all the other interesting developments in the series. But this time, I think it’d be good if they made the new game basically New Super Mario World, with all the familiar elements of the SNES classic and less of the generic ‘worlds’ and NES like themes from the other recent games.
They could bring back classic enemies, like the Fishin’ Boo, Chargin Chucks, Dino Rhinos and Rip Van Fish. Magikoopa as normal castle enemies for once (they’ve taken this role in all the 3D Mario games since Galaxy, but none of the 2D ones for some reason). Reznor as a returning boss to be fought in some fortresses, but not the only one.
But it should go deeper than just enemies, since the last two games brought those back as well. There should be some power ups taken from the game, like the Cape and Yoshis abilities when he hits different coloured shells (blue ones let him fly, red ones let him spit out fireballs, etc). More importantly, the game structure itself should be very different, no more flagpoles (again Nintendo, we don’t NEED these in a 2D or 3D Mario game, most of the NES, SNES and Game Boy games did perfectly fine without them) and more of a choice in where to go. Remember how in Super Mario World you could take many different routes, and explore a good ten or so levels without returning to the main one? Or how you could use the Star World to get to Bowser in about ten levels? I liked that. I’ll come back to it when I get to a later point about the overworld, but Nintendo really needs to stop with the linearity.
2. Super Mario World items
See above. Heck, may as well bring back keys and the P Balloon while you’re at it. Maybe even the Yoshi Wings you could get in certain levels?
However, maybe we shouldn’t just bring back Super Mario World stuff. Maybe we should also have the last few classic SMB 3 suits back, like the Hammer Suit, the Frog Suit and Kuribo’s Shoe. Maybe even some Super Mario Land items would be nice too, who knows.
3. A better overworld
Technically, this is pretty much an extension of my earlier point, the one about how the game should feel more like Super Mario World. But none the less, I really want a proper, interesting world map for once.
Because you see, recent Mario games have neglected this terribly. Galaxy 2 stupidly used a boring map for navigation between different galaxies, and the two New Super Mario Bros games have fell straight into the old issue of relying on themed worlds. Like Super Mario Bros 3 except without any of its charm. What we truly need is a real world map. Like the one in Super Mario World, where the places fit together nicely as if they were actual places and just not cliched video game settings:
Just look at that. Every level seemed to actually fit the area it was in, and the ‘worlds’ weren’t just ‘fire land, ice land and water land’, but proper locations that could easily have been part of a real world. There was the peaceful Donut Plains, the caves of Vanilla Dome, the forests of the Forest of Illusion and the rocky deserts of Choco Island. But none of them were purly based on a theme. Donut Plains had grass, water, sky and forest levels, and they fit the setting, while the Forest of Illusion managed to make various forest areas interesting in their own right by carefully using enemies and obstacles to give each level a sort of mood/atmosphere.
Heck, you know what did this world theming right? Donkey Kong Country, especially the second game:
Each world was beautifully designed, had interesting levels which fitted their location on the map perfectly and never felt cliched or one themed in the slightest. Why can’t this be the case for the 2D Mario games as well?
On that note, why don’t we have level names any more? It was so much easier to remember what level was what by names like Donut Plains 1 or Forest Ghost House or Valley Fortress, and even that could be made better if they just gave every single level a proper, memorable title.
4. Better Bosses
Should be obvious really. I mean come on, it’s been about 20 years since Super Mario Bros 3, yet the bosses in the 2D games haven’t really improved at all since then. Whereas the 3D games have been slowly improving (at least, before 3D Land and its non final Bowser bosses) and the Zelda series has impressed with excellent boss fights in every game, the Mario series has just quietly let the boss battles stay much the same. Having a Koopaling run around and shoot magic every now and then, before staying in their shell for a bit aftwards? Fine in the 90s, less so in 2012. No, this game needs to become epic.
Look at fan projects for inspiration. Many have made the official games look terrible in regards to bosses due to having some fantastic boss battles with all kinds of varied, interesting opponents. Like this one:
Would some of them be a tad difficult in a real Mario game? Maybe, but Nintendo has to consider that there’s nothing wrong with making the bosses as hard as the levels, if not harder. Besides, you’ve got a super guide anyway.
It also brings me to another thing which would be nice, more variety in bosses. That’s something the 2D games always seem to get wrong, repeating boss battles and having the same old opponents time and time again. Make it so the Koopalings, Reznor, Boom Boom and Bowser Jr are just fortress/airship bosses (with a different attack pattern for each one), and come up with some interesting main castle/world bosses. Make it so the opponent gets scared out their wits when they first see their opponent and likely die a few times without beating it first. Make the battles ‘epic’.
5. Better Playable characters
As in, ideally not just two Toads, but actual different characters perhaps with their own abilities and quirks. Wario and Waluigi, one Toad, maybe Yoshi as a playable character on his own. That kind of thing would be awesome.
Also, we need to let people choose their playable character in single player. Player 1 doesn’t HAVE to be Mario, heck, if four people want to play and none want to use Mario, why not let them do just that?
6. Better level atmospheres
Awkward word to use, but if it was to sum it up… weather. We need more levels that have different weather and different visual styles and such like. Remember how nice the sunset levels from Donkey Kong Country Returns looked?
Or the silhouette ones in general?
But you don’t need fancy graphics tricks or different art styles to make your levels interesting. Look at how Snow Barrel Blast goes from a calm winter day to the middle of a raging blizzard as you journey towards the end of the level:
Heck, how about an old idea some other games have where various levels have time progress in the actual level and it goes from day to night to day, etc. Maybe even a variant where the enemies and obstacles actually change depending on the time of day it is, that would be a really nice effect. Torrential rain would be pretty cool too, like in this clip of Monsoon Jungle from Wario Land 4:
So much more atmosphere in that one level than about 90% of New Super Mario Bros, unfortunately. Nintendo take note.
7. More Mini Games
Not as big a deal as the rest, but I really miss the mini games Mario 64 DS and the original New Super Mario Bros had. They weren’t perfect, but they’d keep you interested for a few minutes at a time wheneve you got bored, and they provided some variety for if/when you tire of the main adventure. Bring them back please.
8. Level editor
It’s been way too long without one of these in the Mario series, hasn’t it? Still, like them or not, level editors add a ton of replay value to a game. Remember Smash Bros Brawl? That had the worst level editor I’ve seen, and STILL ended up providing hundreds of hours of entertainment and thousands of fan made stages.
And for a Mario game, one of these would be even more popular. Look at any of the unofficial ones like Lunar Magic, Toad’s Tool or the editors for Super Mario 63, Super Mario Bros X or various other fan games. Many of these became so popular whole websites opened about them and more fan projects were created in them than ever before.
Think of all the awesome things you could do with this kind of feature if you were Nintendo:
Give away a random level every day like Smash Bros
Have contests for levels based on different themes
Have developers make levels and give them away every day/week like WarioWare DIY
Have rewards for if you beat a level sent through Street/SpotPass…
They might as well let you go crazy with it. Let you add your own resources, modify most of the game, make millions off the one game. Let them make their own quests for Mario and co with custom designed levels, world maps and other stuff. Like how Minecraft endorses the site for Game Mods of it.
Some would say this is a bad idea or complain about piracy, but let’s face it, this would pretty much turn a great deal of ‘pirates’ into legitimate customers. The custom stuff would be an incentive for average Joes to buy the game as much as the developer made content is.
Imagine how great it’d be to point out that your game can literally serve everyone and has millions of levels, bosses, items, etc. Best of all, you’d only have to make about 9-12 worlds worth of said content yourself, and you’d initially create a market where this Mario game was basically impossible to compete against. Add your own official downloadable content and add ons, and you’d officially give people very little reason to buy any clones of the series, pirate the series or buy platformers from your competitors.
9. A Great Final boss
Enough said really, and I don’t have to worry about this one in the slightest. Why should I? Every Mario game since Super Mario Bros 3 has technically had a great final boss. Well, maybe except Sunshine if you’re picky.
So I may as well make a few guesses about how this fight might go:
Chance he’ll turn into a giant, about 50-70%. It’s already happened in both Yoshi’s Island games, New Super Mario Bros (technically), Super Mario Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros Wii and Super Princess Peach. Oh, and Mario Party 5.
It’ll be in the sky or outer space. Fair chance, was true of both Galaxy games, Mario 64, Mario Sunshine and various spinoffs (especially Mario Party)
You’ll be running from him. Didn’t use to be true, but was of New Super Mario Bros Wii and Mario 3D Land, may well happen again.
The final boss music will be epic. It always is. And every single game, someone somewhere compares the tune to that of a boss in an RPG game.
Here’s hoping for another great final boss. Who knows, may not even be Bowser this time… oh wait, this is a 2D Mario game. Never mind.
10. Great Music
Again, I don’t think they’ll disappoint, the quality of Mario’s music as a series has never really gone far below excellent, unless you’re talking Yoshi’s Island or educational games. True, people have said they don’t put as much effort into the music in 2D Mario games as in 3D ones, but come on, even much of the New Super Mario Bros music is fantastic, especially if you’re willing to look beyond just the grass/athletic/overworld level 1 theme with the silly noises and enemies dancing to it. Listen:
It’s remixed excellently by third parties as well:
Really, the music only needs to be orchestrated if you ask me. The New Super Mario Bros Wii style works perfectly fine as such:
The castle music alone sounds like it’s out of Castlevania with a bit of remixing, and even the normal grass land music isn’t exactly bad by any means. None the less, we will get an awesome soundtrack, I can be 100% sure of that.
Still, that’s all I want from a new 2D Mario game on 3DS. Will the game have all/most of what I wished for? Probably not, it’s coming out in either 2012 or early 2013, so unless development has been going for years prior to the announcement it’d be impossible to have all of it. None the less, it’s a new 2D Mario game, and it’s basically confirmed the game will be excellent. Don’t worry about it, there is officially zero chance it won’t be an instant classic.
Note: This is an (extremely infamous) archived article from the old site Super Mario 3D Land News. It shows my disdain for the linearity focused direction of the 3D Mario series clearly, it quotes Sean Malstrom in places and it ended up nearly destroying the site’s reputation on Youtube. Either way, no one on Nintendo 3DS Daily actually agrees with this any more, so trying to criticise it now is a complete waste of time.