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There, that was me blowing off the dust on this blog that I haven't used in like... forever.
So I saw some kids playing the New Super Mario Bros. game on a Wii at a Best Buy, and I overheard some older kids who were passingg by scoff and remark, "who cares, it's just another Mario game," and the young punks shuffled off to go smoke crack or something, I dunno... but it got me thinking.
Do we live in a day and age where it's no longer possible for new cartoon-ish mascots to appear and shoulder an entire franchise on their own the way that Mario, Sonic, and a slew of impersonators once did in the later 80s and early 90s? The youngest ones that I can think of today are Ratchet and Clank, and to a lesser degree, Jak and Daxter, and they're both pushing 7 years old now. Blinx the Time Cat certainly didn't make it that long.
It seems like long ago, franchises were developed around personalities, whereas now they are developed around concepts. We are in an age where the majority of video games aspire to achieve a hyper-realism, looking realer than real, and the characters that occupy those spaces aren't really characters, they are purely avatars for the player to project themselves on to.
When we were young, it was fun to pretend we were Mario, or Link, or Sonic. These days, it seems like the only chance kids get to do that when it comes to video games is through TV license games like Spongebob or Naruto. There doesn't seem to be a market anymore for developers who want to establish their own creations. I'm not suggesting that the following examples were the best that video games ever had to offer, but that means no more Kirbys, no more Crash Bandicoots, no more Earthworm Jims, no more Bonks, no more Ryus and Kens, no more Spyros, no more Sly Coopers, and no more Bubsy the Bobcats (although I can live without him...)
Has that era of gaming completely vanished? Is it poised to make a come back? Ever?