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MassDebate avatar 2:48 PM on 03.30.2011  (server time)
Debatoid: Will Mario still be New and Super in 2036?

Welcome to Debatoid! We take a controversial topic, form a proposition, and set two contenders the challenge of stating their case in favor of and in opposition to the proposition. After which, users may vote to decide which contender they support.

(Rules for voting are at the bottom of the blog, but it is recommended that you read the contenders' cases before you cast your vote, as they may go some way toward forming your opinion.)

The proposition: Super Mario platformers will still be released to critical acclaim and commercial success in 25 years time.

rexwolf2 states his case for the proposition:

So, I hear that some people have doubts about the future success of Super Mario. Obviously, I have heaps of faith in the little Italian fella. I think that he will have success not just twenty-five years from now, but even further into the future.

There are plenty of fellas today that love Mario, and I don't think that that will change for them. When I was a little kid, I would lap his games up, but I lapsed a bit during my early teen years, thinking that our Italian friend "wasn't very cool." However, I came back to him. Do you know why?

Mario games are timeless. Nintendo doesn't pander to a current audience or try to make him "cool" (unlike a certain hedgehog I could mention); Mario is just Mario, and he will never change. Also, not long ago, I downloaded Super Mario Bros 3. It's still an excellent game.

Mario games have an enormous shelf life, probably due to the perfection that their platforming is crafted with. Every platformer ever made owes a debt to Mario, and his games are the epitome of platforming. With twenty-five years under their belt, Nintendo has abundant experience making Mario platformers, and I don't think the quality will dip any time soon.

Does anybody remember the semi-recent revival of retro and 2D games? I know I do, and I don't think that movement is going anywhere any time soon. Mario is one of the first things people think of when they think of sidescrolling platformers. The day people stop enjoying Mario is the day they stop enjoying platformers. Not only that, but he's what people think of when they think of Nintendo. Like it or not, he is the face of the company, and you never want to have an ugly face, do you? Mark my words, the day Nintendo stops making quality Mario games is also the day that they stop making games, and I don't see that day coming any time soon.

Let's take a look at Mario's track record, shall we? I believe that nearly every platformer he has starred in is a multi-million seller, and all of the highest quality. There is not a single intrinsically bad Mario platformer in his catalog. Sure, some people disliked Super Mario Sunshine, but that was mostly because of how radically different and odd it was, even for a Mario game. All of these games have had a pretty good amount of hype, too. I remember my Super Mario Galaxy 2 frenzy; snatching up every possible piece of information possible, which actually led me to Dtoid.

Also, there was a pretty enormous roar of excitement and speculation for that 3DS Mario game announced at GDC, and that was only four screenshots and a freaking tail! If Mario has even a quarter of the popularity in the future that he does now, I'm not worried.

However, there is one possible way that Mario could fall: The death of Miyamoto. The man's an immortal being from a higher dimension though, so I don't think there will be any problems.

AwesomeExMachina states his case against the proposition:

Mario means more to me than any video game character in the history of all that is videogames. I knew his name before I ever touched a controller and clumsily doodled his face on the margins of elementary school notebooks. I still hear the sound of the little hero claiming a power-up chirp from cell phones of complete strangers. There exists no more legendary of a character in all of video game history and his place in pop culture has been thoroughly carved. However, the uncomfortable truth persists that our mustachioed plumber can’t be with us forever, no matter how much it hurts to think it.

The Mario Bros. franchise has certainly not been suffering critically or financially since its origins, especially in recent times. Super Mario Galaxy 2 experienced near-perfect reviews and sales of New Super Mario Bros. closed near 5.6 million! Nonetheless, there has been an inarguably strong dip in frequency in the past few years. In fact, since 2008 the franchise has been reduced to only one single mainstream, Mario-centric title published each year.

Beyond the review scores and sales numbers sits the icon at the heart of the Mario Bros. franchise. The celebrated Shigeru Miyamoto; one of a very small number of those deserving of the title of auteur in the world of video games. He is the man who transformed the vague Jumpman into the stuff of legends. But there exists a difficult truth about this beloved creator’s place in the industry.

Miyamoto is a tad under two years from turning 60 years old and, as even the man himself has stated in an interview last year, the Nintendo Corporation is bound to retire him at some point. Though he has claimed that he would continue making games despite it all, like a badass game designer vigilante, he could never reclaim a character expressly owned by Nintendo. The day Miyamoto ceases to contribute to the world of video games is very, very long away, but the same may not be said for his creations.

Surely, Nintendo wouldn’t retire the critically acclaimed franchise even after Miyamoto moved on, but would the series be the same without the ‘father of videogaming’ at the helm? There is little doubt in my mind that the franchise would suffer significantly, at the very least critically, without him. Moreover, do we even want a Mario game without Miyamoto?

The Mario games represent something intrinsically powerful to both myself and all gamers; more than simply a profitable franchise or the brainchild of a gaming icon, Mario and his friends have been at the center of an incalculable lifetime of positive experiences. Even those born long after he appeared in the original Donkey Kong have grown up as fans: My younger cousin can recall days playing Super Mario 64 and my even younger relative is old enough to wax nostalgic about playing Mariokart DS. The heroic Italian and his brother span generations like very few characters ever have.

Even if you’ve never set foot in a single title featuring the chubby red plumber, his influence graces every game where there is a platform to be jumped or villain to be defeated. The range of Mario’s impact spans countries and languages, has graced nearly every medium possible, and is immortalized in tattoos and art worldwide.

But Mario has jumped sideways across screens for twenty years. He has taken part in nearly every major sport, reinvented himself in ways that have been arguably cyclical, and has even resorted to the expanse of an entire fictional galaxy for bad guys to stomp on. Whether you see these titles as marketable repetition or the genius of reinvention, every franchise must run out of steam eventually. The story of our hero Mario and his forever-captive Princess Peach is not over yet, but in 25 years I not only believe it so, but also sincerely hope that it will be.

Many thanks to rexwolf2 and AwesomeExMachina for their contributions.


Voting has now concluded on the 2nd Debatoid! Many thanks to everyone who voted. The results are in and it started out a close-run debate, before the overwhelming support of the world's most famous plumber turned superhero came to bear:

Congratulations to rexwolf2 on his victory, and commiserations to AwesomeExMachina on his defeat.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I took from this week's Debatoid was that, despite coming to the proposition at totally opposite angles, there was nonetheless a fondness for the past joys adventuring with Mario and a sincere desire towards a beautiful future for him.

For rexwolf2, his desire manifested itself in a wish to see Mario games continue with the innovative and perfectly honed gameplay for which the series in famous for in future iterations, and for AmesomeExMachina, his desire manifested itself in a wish to see the series conclude on a high note, and for Mario's adventures to never be something that one does not look forward to in salivating anticipation.

Despite the conflict, the pursuit of either goal was a noble one, and the over-riding hope that both parties share was that we do not see a future in which the credibility that the Mario platforming series has well earned ever becomes tainted. I'm sure that's something of which there is no debate.

Here are some of the highlights from the discussion in the comments:

"While the Mario franchise is blessed with extreme longevity, nothing can last forever. Miyamoto is only a person. Eventually he will stop making games at Nintendo, and even more eventually, he will die. Will Mario be able to continue without him? I'm not sure."

"Almost playing devil's advocate here, but I believe there's some truth to what that Dent guy said: You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I'd rather see Mario disappear gracefully when his time comes, rather than running out of steam year after year. I think (and hope) that Nintendo will recognize this in 25 years."

"The N64 and GameCube only saw one "true" Mario game and I can see them reverting back to that if the games ever begin to get stale. While I haven't played any of the other platformers on the Wii, games like Kirby's Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Wario Land: The Shake Dimension were all highly praised, showing that Miyamoto isn't the only one at Nintendo that knows how to make a game in this genre."

"While I'd like to see awesome new stuff being put out by Nintendo in 25 years, Mario will always be around. Gamers of this generation will have kids around that time, and those kids will be playing Mario and it will still be "New and Super" to them, at least."

"It's sad to say, but even Miyamoto will run out of 1-UPs one day.

Mario will be left in the hands of companies that, while capable of putting out an excellent release, will ultimately fall to the temptation to be derivative or overly plot-driven. It'll be like Dreamworks making a Toy Story movie; competently done, even enjoyable, but tinged with a certain brand of desperation, a lack of faith in the player or its own creative vision that simply does not exist in the mind of Miyamoto."

Jonathan Holmes
"I'm going with rexwolf2, mostly because of the current popularity of the Mario Party/Sports series, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Super Mario Galaxy. In 25 years, the kids that grew up with those games now will be old and looking for nostalgia. Kids will likely still enjoy the series too, especially with their Mario-bred parents bringing home new Mario games for them to enjoy.

Then there's the people like myself who will be in their 50's and 60's who will be clutching onto dear life and anything that makes us feel connected with the modern culture. We'll be buying the Mario games of 2036 as well.

Like Walt Disney, Miyamoto's creations will surely outlive him by many, many generations."

Corduroy Turtle
"While other companies drive popular franchises into the ground by drowning the consumer with uninspired sequels, Nintendo manages to keep it's franchises alive by smartly staggering it's releases and experimenting with new ideas with each iteration. They've kept Mario and the Legend of Zelda around for over 20 years and I'm positive that Pokémon will be right behind them soon."

Sir Legendhead
"It's impossible to forecast where the industry might be a quarter of a century from now, or if it will even exist in a form we can presently recognize. Even if he does somehow survive the inevitable wax and wane of gaming's popularity, he won't be the same Mario we know today."

"Though AwesomeExMachina's theory of every franchise running out of steam is accurate, you can't count out on how much a cultral phenomenon Mario is. I remember watching a survey on how kids notices popular child icons. The kids noticed Mario more than Mickey Mouse."

"There have always been people that have said "Mario will die down in the next couple of years", or "His time is over", and "There's nowhere left for Mario to go". Yet here are 25 years later, and the man is still pushing the limits of platforming to levels we never thought of 5 years ago, all while not forgetting his roots, and being able to bring the new into the old.

He's constantly evolving, yet he never changes. If doing this for a quarter of a century isn't proof enough, then I think you're fooling yourself."

The Silent Protagonist
"Super Mario Galaxy 2 was built from the numerous ideas the Super Mario Galaxy team had left over. Think about it - people that grew up playing Mario games are now the people making Nintendo's games. I think the spirit of Miyamoto will live on in these people in the development teams and we'll see his games carried on, along with new IPs.

Eiji Aonuma has been at the helm of Zelda for almost 13 years now, with Miyamoto simply around as an advisor, producer and otherwise a mouthpiece for the progress of the development of Zelda games. He seems to have some Zelda project in the works for the anniversary, but the Ocarina of Time remake and Skyward Sword are mostly in Aonuma's lap.

So I think Mario's in capable hands, Nintendo's full of people with potential - we're just used to Miyamoto being the face of Nintendo."

"Mario is going to run out of steam, as the genre would have to reinvent the character for the audiences of 2036 and the mediums that follow. The question will ultimately be whether or not Mario will have a console to sell in 2036.

It's getting harder and harder to support the Wii and the 3DS still isn't as progressive as it needs to be. Nintendo is running on gimmicks to skyrocket immediate sales, but the world is changing around them. Apple and Google have started to make roads in to the handheld market cutting market shares away from Nintendo. Microsoft and Sony are taking the older demographics that Nintendo doesn't have as good an appeal with.

That is happening right now.

Mario isn't the only thing that will need to reinvent. So will Nintendo. I don't believe that in 2036, Nintendo will be the same force that it has been for the past 25 years. Mario games probably will still be good, but Super? Most likely not."

"Why in the hell is it so hard to believe that Mario could last 50 years? Star Wars is going on 34 years and only getting stronger, at least commercially if not critically. Comic book superheroes like Batman and Superman have been around close to 50 years or longer.

There is no precedent in the world of gaming, sure, but I don't see why he can't still be popular."

If you want to be involved as a contender or to contribute to a future topic, simply drop a PM to Debatoid, CaptainBus, or email me at captainbus AT gmail DOT com

We have a brand new Debatoid for you later this week! I don't suppose anyone picked up on my subtle hint from last week's results about what last week's Debatoid was going to be about (an exciting future in the pipeline = the future of Super Mario, get it?) I thought that someone might have picked up on the pun, but score that as a one-off, because I can't think of a good pun for this week's topic.

Debatoid will return!


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