There are two franchises I will almost never speak about on this blog: The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. The reason for that is simple: BIAS! Those are my two favorite franchises and I personally enjoy each game in them, even if I truly don’t like a title (Zelda 2 and Mario Sunshine come to mind).
Why do I bring this up? Well, I recently 100%ed “New Super Mario Bros. 2” and I really enjoyed it. I’m surprised to see it held as the lowest ranking Mario game to date on GameRankings, but I also cannot disagree. It’s a very strange feeling.
Usually when I feverishly love a title and reviews are low, I just write them off and continue playing. This time, though, I’m beginning to question if my own bias is blinding me. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I believe I’m a part of the problem when it comes to modern AAA games being all too similar; maybe that’s true with Mario and Zelda?
I haven’t purchased more than 3 games this year at full, retail price. After the abomination that was “Uncharted 3,” and my extreme disappointment with “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” I vowed to wait for price drops or sales before jumping into anything new. It has paid off extremely well for me.
Still, the only titles I will buy immediately without question are Zelda and Mario games. I don’t even care if they suck out loud, I need to play them. This kind of devotion is clearly what a money grubbing company would love, but it most definitely is not helping the creative lull that Mario has found himself in.
The next Mario game should have an art style like this!
Even though I loved every minute of my 9 hour jaunt through NSMB2, I can’t help but feel like I’m growing weary of this entire “New” series. The level design, in particular, wasn’t as fresh or invigorating in this 3DS title and the overkill with the Tanaooki leaf is making that feeling of wonder and joy from “Super Mario Bros. 3” feel dated.
I always wanted a “true” sequel to Mario 3; now I have two of them. The sense of déjà vu and complacency is starting to take its toll on me. Seeing as how my favorite Mario games aren’t even from the “New” series, I’m completely conflicted on how I feel about “New Super Mario Bros. U.”
I want it to be the return to form that 2-D Mario desperately needs, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve been burn to death on sidescrollers. For that matter, I want someone else to step up their game so that Mario has a reason to try newer and braver endeavors.
People point to “Rayman: Origins” as some bastion of bliss, but I found the game completely dull. When in a Mario game does it take Mario four worlds to gain the ability to swim? Rayman is like playing Mario in a coma, even if its graphics are nice.
But maybe that’s just my bias coming into effect? If I didn’t “love” Mario, maybe I could see the beauty within Rayman and embrace him as the sidescrolling king? I have no idea, but even adventure gaming doesn’t compare to Zelda for me.
I’ll tell you left and right that I do not like Twilight Princess. The game is essentially a retread of Ocarina of Time, yet with more listless pacing and easier puzzles. It’s still better than “Darksiders” to me.
In fact, I remember back in 2001 when “Ico” was just coming out and Official Playstation Magazine labeled the game a Zelda killer. I hated the game for eight full years! It wasn’t until I gave it a play in 2009 and subsequently wrote a final paper about it that I truly fell for the game.
When I have debates about potential “Game of the Year” candidates, I almost always try to leave Zelda and Mario out of the equation. It’s not even fair to other games for me if I include them. Obviously I’m just going to pick Link and Mario!
As a matter of fact, my room is surrounded with the guys. I have three plush Mario’s, a bean bag Yoshi, a stuffed Link and numerous posters from both series. My room is a venerable shrine to these gaming gurus.
Look how cute they are together!
How does one get over such a bias? Is there even really a point in doing so? Does my bias borderline on obsession? What could that possibly mean to the friends I keep in my life?
Whatever the implications, I cannot be without these two franchises. If Nintendo were to ever collapse and get out of gaming, I would too. I just will not fathom a game industry without these two icons, even if it may inevitably become a reality.
So, yes, I do think “New Super Mario Bros. 2” is a damn fine platformer. It kills “Rayman: Origins” in every conceivable fashion for me. Excellent, hand drawn, HD graphics be damned, I’ll take Mario any day!