I wouldn't say that I'm a Nintendo fanboy, but I'll be the first to admit that I am 100% a fanboy of the company's top mascot, the portly plumber, Mario. There's just something about that short, mustachioed man that always makes me happy, reminding me of sitting three feet away from a giant tube television and staring in awe when you grab that vegetable out of the ground only to discover that it's actually a rocket ship that flies you to the next level. Those memories will never die, and I still get excited for most Mario games even if all they are is just a rehash of the previous game with new levels. Super Mario Galaxy was the sole reason I bought a Wii in the first place, but for whatever reason, Mario has lost his luster for me. I certainly didn't have the same feelings towards New Super Mario Bros. U as I did for Galaxy, which is why I sit here Wii U-less.
Although, I may have to break down soon...
There's that old saying that goes "Don't fix what isn't broken," and that's how I felt about Mario games up until about a year ago. When I played New Super Mario Bros. 2 on 3DS, despite the fact that a lot of outlets gave it middling reviews, I really enjoyed it. I had my doubts about the coin collecting gimmick, but actually found it to be pretty cool. But even though I really liked it, it's the first Mario game that I've had absolutely no desire to play a second time, and my indifference to New SMB U got me to thinking that maybe Nintendo needs to fix something with the Mushroom Kingdom's go-to-guy.
One day last week, I had a 'eureka!' moment. I was thinking about the kind of Mario game I would like to play, and the answer was so simple that I'm amazed that Nintendo hasn't thought of it yet. Simply put, take the Mario series, and emulate another classic Nintendo franchise: Metroid. To be more precise (and I'm going to use this word even though I hate it), make a 2-D Mario game in the style of a Metroidvania. Before you cry "That'll never work," hear me out on this one.
The Mario universe would be a perfect fit for a Metroid-style map. In an average 2-D Mario game, you have: a regular Mushroom Kingdom area, a desert world, a water world, an ice world, a sky world, a fire world, and I'll throw in the underground levels and ghost houses as well. I'll use the Symphony of the Night map as an example.
Here is half of the Symphony of the Night map. Now, with the power of Microsoft Paint (and very little artistic skill), I'll give you a basic example of how this could work for Mario.
The different areas in Mario can be used in a way very similar to Symphony. In Symphony, every area was different but still felt like it belonged in Dracula's castle. Just as in Mario, all the worlds are disparate but still feel like they belong in the same game.
Here's a general key:
GREEN-Basic Mushroom Kingdom. GRAY - Underground levels similar to Level 1-2 in the original Super Mario Bros. RED - Fire world. PURPLE - Small castle which leads to the Sky World a la Super Mario Bros. 3, World 5. BLUE - Sky world. PINK - Bowser's secret lair or something similar
For those unfamiliar with Symphony of the Night, the red blocks represent areas to save your game, and the orange/yellow areas are warp zones. It would be very easy to just stick Toad into the red areas to record progress, and warp pipes in the orange/yellow ones. While Symphony's castle becomes very vertical once the inverted castle in unlocked, you could switch that and make this map very horizontal, and have the Mushroom Kingdom gradually turn into a desert, or make a shoreline that leads to a sea.
They could throw in characters like Birdo, Kamek, and Wart for boss battles, and when you look at the beastiary for any Castlevania game, it's safe to say that there would be more than enough room to include the entire pantheon of Mario enemies, everything from your standard goombas and koopas to obscure enemies like Torpedo Ted and my personal favorite, Blargg.
If you don't like Blargg, then we can't be friends.
Instead of temporary power-ups, have the power-ups be permanent and something that can be switched on the fly. In Metroid, you discover new abilities and use those to unlock new areas, and you can do that here too. You found an area completely blocked off by ice? Just go down to the Fire World, unlock the Fire Flower and use that to melt the ice. An area blocked by rock? Good thing you have that Hammer Bros. suit. Mario could level up, use skill points to upgrade suits, and discover or buy new attire to increase certain stats like in the Mario & Luigi games. Also, considering Nintendo's affinity for secret areas, especially in Mario titles, I don't see how this idea would be anything less than awesome.
Is this the answer to the Wii U's problems? No. Will it be a system seller? Maybe. It would certainly sell at least one, because I would show up at midnight on release day. I'm not saying that it's the Wii U's savior, but it would certainly give Mario a much needed shot in the arm. The Wii U gamepad could be used for the map, inventory, etc. It would even work as a 3DS title. Either way, this is a Mario game that I would love to play. So, Nintendo, please feel free to use this idea (Copyrighted Dustin Thomas, 2013).
Maybe this idea is terrible, but I would love to hear feedback and opinions from my fellow DToiders, and as always, thanks for reading.