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The big wait

Or why, to the Mario fan, patience really is a virtue

Well, Yoshi's Story and Wario Land 2 just came out, and Mario fan's everywhere had their little appetites filled once again. Since Mario Kart 64, these people have been waiting like salivating dog's for anything even resembling a Mario game, and these two delivered. Now comes yet another long wait. Barring any HUGE surprise announcement at E3, We will be most likely be waiting into Mid-'99 for a Mario game. If past experience dictates, it will probably be longer, the wait only stemmed by an occasional cameo appearance and press release (FLASH: Mario 64 II is now 43% complete, etc.)

This is not a new phenomenon. Mario fans have been waiting long whiles in between Mario games since the beginning. SMB(1985) saw phenomonal success, and so a sequel came relatively quickly(1986-87) to cash in. The downside to this was that the sequel was a cookie cutter version of another game, and didn't offer the regular Mario innovations (although it became one of the most loved in the series). Nintendo saw that Mario didn't deserve this, and so they set out to do it right. After three years wait with only Dr. Mario to hold one over, the gaming perfection of SMB3(1990) was released. This would not be the first long wait eager Mario fans would suffer.

One high point in this story is the quick release of SMW(1991), only 1 1/2 years after SMB3. SMW work had begun before SMB3 was even out, and so gamers bored with SMB3 (and with $200 to spend) could get their fix. After this, things were pretty low key for the plumbing pair. People who were eager for a sequel to SMB3 and SMW had to settle for secondary games (Super Mario Kart, 1993), monochrome mini-adventures (Super Mario Land 2, 1992) and rehashes (Super Mario all-stars, 1994) to hold them over. Without a major game, Mario was going becoming old news and newer characters were eating at his popularity (see Mario's Mascot muscle). When Yoshi's Island (1995) and Super Mario RPG(1996), two of the best Mario games ever, came out near the end of the SNES's career, Mario had been nearly forgotten and people were looking to a 32 and 64-bit future. Super Mario 64 was supposed to come along in 1996, but again gamers had to wait until late 1997 to see Mario's return to glory. Still, the long l ack of quality Mario goodness hurt him and Nintendo profoundly (Sega had more than 50% of video game market share through the 16-bit years).

Maybe it's just me, but I think we deserve more Mario games. One or two major games every four years just doesn't cut it for. Sure, I'll settle for playing things like SML2 in the interval, and it even gives me a chance to rediscover old classics, but the long waits only hurt Mario and his fans. Some might say that the wait is so long because each Mario game isn't just a cookie cutter clone (erhrrm, Mega Man, Sonic) and that's why you must wait for them. This is true, and the games are of higher quality, but they can't hold up for three to four years. They become dated, there secrets become unveiled, and within a year usually, they are classics. Nintendo has said that they usually will not make sequels to games until the technology is at the right point to really improve the experience from the last game. Does this mean we can only look forward to a Mario game only when a new Nintendo system comes out or when that system is more "technologically advanvced" (i.e. when it's about to die off). Nintendo's past fe w systems have followed this formula (NES: SMB, SMB3/SNES: SMW, SMRPG/N64:SM64, SM64II?). It's hard to wait is all.

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