While people in their forties tend to fall into a routine (hence the famous midlife crisis), this is not the case with Mario. And yes, under the guise of a young, dashing and dynamic plumber, our Italian-Japanese is trappy and is gradually getting old. His first appearance was in 1981 in Donkey Kong. On the other hand, it was not until 1985 to see him run and bounce in the first Super Mario Bros. Based on the latter date, Mario is therefore more than 38 years old, but that does not detract from his impressive longevity. No video game character has lasted this long.
So yeah, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong are older. But clearly, we can’t talk about the same kind of longevity. If a revival arrives from time to time, Mario does not need to make a big comeback. It is still present with games that sell by pallet, amusement parks and now even a movie. The Nintendo plumber is therefore as popular, if not more, as he was in his wild youth.
And of course it’s Nintendo rubbing its hands with its mascot, which seems to be able to sell everything. We should also remember that the Mario franchise is the one that sold the most video games in the world and continues to do so with titles such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey.
Mario is so above the fray that he even allows himself to swim against the tide without fear. While one of the historical JRPGs has completely decided to abandon these turn-based mechanics (hello Final Fantasy XVI), Mario is not afraid to bring back Super Mario RPG. And while many players were eagerly awaiting a sequel to Odyssey, Nintendo opted for a new 2D episode instead, a certain Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Well, wouldn’t it start there, that famous midlife crisis which, under the guise of nostalgia, would push Mario to relive the best moments of his wild youth but never regain the sparks of yesteryear? Well don’t worry, it’s still not for now…
Is Super Mario Bros. Wonder a revival for 2D Mario?
If on paper the promise of a new Mario 2D may seem boring to some, it’s mainly because you might have thought you had done the trick by now. A new 2D Mario after the clever New Super Mario Bros. and especially the free and creative Super Mario Maker 2, it seems complicated.
How do you come up with something new and interesting after all that?
How can we continue to bring to life a genre that has already been analyzed from every angle?
We know the Super Mario Bros. formula all too well. And while personally I would be happy to embark on an experience of this kind again, this is not normally the kind of announcement that can make me vibrate, close a conference in style. And yet Nintendo had me and a lot of others. In October, the games will continue and we will have to choose which ones to play Day One and which to postpone. But I already know that Super Mario Bros. Wonder will be among the first, and for a reason: the game seems to achieve the impossible by renewing the formula once again, without completely breaking with it.
So yeah, there are new playable characters. Yes, the developers have added original costumes. But the revival that Wonder offers goes beyond a few additions, as improbable as they may be at times (an elephant, really?). Think you’ve seen it all with Super Mario Maker levels? Well you were wrong! With its levels worthy of an LCD trip, it’s no longer up to you to play with the sets but the sets that play with you. And that plays on what this new opus seems to reveal. With Wonder, Nintendo is finally modernizing the Mario 2D experience that was more static than the other adventures of our mustachioed plumber.
We can feel inspired both by 3D episodes for the variety of situations, but also by competitors such as Rayman Legends, which, with Rayman Origins, has also succeeded in changing a formula that is more than 15 years old. Like the latter, this new Mario seems to rely heavily on rhythm, speed, and musicality. Add to that reworked animations and that Wonder Seed, which seems to be central to this new adventure, and you have a game that seems to take advantage of the main quality of this old Mario bugger: constant and permanent renewal. And here, we can’t wait to see the unique tamboul that Nintendo has managed to concoct in its old pots!