Creating The Next Mario: Has Nintendo Peaked?
Don't expect to see the plumber's replacement any time soon.
The 80s and 90s were Nintendo's most important years when it came to creating characters. Over that 20-year span of time, the company introduced the world to Mario, Luigi, Link, Samus Aran, Fox McCloud and Kirby, thus forming the foundation of its empire.
Then we entered the 2000s (AKA the aughts) and the publisher took a nosedive.
On the positive side, there were some memorable faces, most notably Tom Nook from Animal Crossing and Captain Olimar from Pikmin. Others, however, failed to make much of an impact amongst the Nintendo faithful. Tingle, from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, is just too bizarre, while that tin can Chibi-Robo (as cute as he is) doesn't have what it takes.
Nintendo's newest creation, meanwhile, is a cowboy armadillo by the name of Jiro, star of the upcoming 3DS title, The Rolling Western. Please contain your excitement.
To be fair, it takes more than just an overactive imagination to design a video game character. From where we stand, though, it's clear that one of two things (or both) happened.
1. Nintendo, content with its war chest of heroes, put itself on auto pilot, presumably forever.
2. Nintendo is incapable of topping its greatest creations.
Honestly, both points seem plausible. When a fat Italian plumber with over 25 years of staying power continues to generate millions (with a Pokemon franchise right behind him), you should maximize each IP's potential by giving the masses what they want. To this point, there's no reason to build a better mousetrap.
Conversely, there's a good chance that Nintendo achieved something totally unexpected that went far beyond its creativity, and now the company desperately clings to Mario's overalls fully aware that without the pudgy hero, there's little to prevent the competition from squashing the Japanese giant.
Besides, which D-list character can unseat Mario? The creepy Sebastian Tute from Wii Music? Kyle Hyde (the first and final Hotel Dusk: Room 215 reference we'll make this year)? Dr. Crygor from WarioWare? No, no and no.
Obviously, we don't work at Nintendo or have exclusive access to its best and brightest, leaving us to wonder if the publisher's best years are behind it.
We certainly hope not, as we'd love to see new additions to the Nintendo family. At the same time, we still love Mario.