Note: The Pocket Tactics team at large would like to disagree with Kayleigh on this hot take.
Ah, Mario. One of the most iconic videogame mascots to grace the planet. The Italian plumber is Nintendo’s pride and joy, and has been since his inception in the 1980s. When you put it that way, he’s basically from the dinosaur age when it comes to games, and that shows. Yes, I’m about to say it. Mario is boring. It’s best to leave him to the wayside, where he can decay into bones for an archaeologist to discover in years to come.
That may sound harsh, but I have receipts to support my theory that single-player Mario experiences aren’t fun, offer little in the way of innovation, and are nothing more than filler for a company that has plenty of IPs that are adventurous, entertaining, and full of characters that have personality. All Mario does is eat some shrooms, shout ‘wahoo’, and chase after a princess that gets kidnapped so many times, I can’t help but wonder if there’s something more between herself and Bowser.
There are many platformers out there that have more substance than single-player Mario games. In fact, let’s just dive right in and look at the competition before we dissect the main man himself. Crash Bandicoot is the platform mascot of the early PlayStation days and remains a prominent figure today, while Sonic continues to be Sega’s guiding light. Though the latter does admittedly have a bit of a bumpy history.
From the get-go, Crash just has more to him than some princess-loving plumber that can’t get the hint that he’s the other guy in her fairy tale. For starters, the marsupial is more charismatic, boasts high levels of humour, features wonderful level design with various environments so as to avoid repetition, and actually gets the girl at the end of his first adventure – that’s how you do it, Mario.
Then let’s look at Sonic, the blue blur in his heyday, is miles ahead of Mario in every possible way when it comes to single-player experiences, and let me tell you why. Besides a more likeable protagonist, the outer cast of this universe is better, the story is more entertaining, and Sonic doesn’t have an annoying moustache that grinds my gears.
But let’s be fair. Let’s say I completely disregard Crash, Sonic, Spyro, and any other platforming legend and just focus on what Mario has going for him. His theme tune is kind of catchy, but given I can get that from a multiplayer Mario game, I don’t think it qualifies here.
Besides that, I can honestly say that I find a lot of the levels in various single-player Mario games to be tedious. Yes, I really think that. No, you can’t change my mind. They’re all so samey. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not some monster that can’t admit when something’s good, so I’ll say that snowy levels are pretty good, and who doesn’t love to be in space?
However, when you explore luscious environments as a protagonist that has the charisma of a potato, I take issue. Mario is one of most plain videogame characters of all time, and if I may draw back to Crash Bandicoot and Sonic again, the marsupial and the hedgehog both have buckets of charisma, yet Mario can’t even pick up their overflowing essence. In fact, I’m about to say something that many may despise me for – Luigi is far more charming and likeable.
Luigi’s Mansion? Yes! Fantastic games. Why? Because that man that likes to hog the spotlight doesn’t get to be the main character anymore. However, perhaps it’s my love of all things spooky that makes me enjoy my haunted mansion outings with Luigi. Whatever the case may be, I don’t mind gallivanting with him. My one problem is that he should just leave Mario to the ghosts.
Right, before you all declare me to be a witch that you must burn at the stake, let me factor in one redeeming quality about the Mario franchise. The multiplayer games are fun. Aww, you see, I can play nice with others, though I’d be lying if I said I don’t gun for Mario in an MK race, and I especially love throwing him out of the arena in Super Smash Bros.
If you grab a group of friends on a Saturday night, order some pizza, and fire up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Party, you’re in for a great time. You might lose some friendships though, but hey, at least you can play a Mario game that’s actually fun. Sometimes you just can’t have it both ways. Do you want to keep your friends? Or do you want to play a decent title in a franchise elongated with boring experiences? I know. This sounds like a choice right out of Saw. Friends or Mario. Make your choice.
Anyway, in conclusion, Mario sucks, but his multiplayer games are fun, though the fact that you can play as an assortment of characters instead of the moustachioed plumber helps with that. Sometimes, it’s nice to be the bad guy, even if it’s in a kart racer.