There's Something About Sequels
Or "More of a differnece or more of the same?"
Every Mario game is directly influenced by all the Mario games that came before it. This is doubly true with sequels. There are good things about this: It automatically gives a sense of familiarity to the game and gives it a solid starting points to expand from. I'm afraid, however, that Mario's rich 20 year history is beginning to plague his career instead of enhance it. The reason I say this is that there are simply too many Mario sequels coming out.
Take a look at this years Mario-related release list: Paper Mario (a.k.a. SMRPG2), Dr. Mario 64, Mario Party 3, Mario Kart Advance and Mario Advance (a re-make of SMB2us). Sensing a pattern here? You should... they're all sequels or reworks of old games. Being a huge Mario fan, I welcome any new Mario game of course, but how much do I have to look forward to in Dr. Mario 64. All indications point to it being more of the same pill dropping action with brighter graphics and a 4-player mode. Why should I wait with baited breath for this when I can play Dr. Mario on my old NES, SNES or Game Boy right now?
Maybe I shouldn't worry too much. After all, in the past Mario has been pretty good with sequels. After all, SMB2 and 3, SMW and YI were all pretty direct sequels of the original SMB (meaning they were all side-scrolling hop-and-bop games), but they were all great games that introduced new and fun gameplay elements. This was all well and good until Yoshi's Story came along. While there were many problems with this game, including lack of direct Miyamato involvement, one of the problems was that it was yet another side-scroller. After 4 sequels, it's hard to come up with new and exciting things to spice up the same old formula, and Yoshi's Story suffered because of this. I'm afraid this will happen with the new Mario series' as well. By this time Super Mario RPG and Super Mario 64 brought about a new 3D direction for Mario, but some day even this formula will become dated. How many Mario Parties will it be until they exhaust all the fun from the genre? Is three the limit?
I'm probably jumping to conclusions prematurely. After all, Miyamato has indicated a new direction for the main set of Mario games with the now infamous "more mature Mario" which he promised for the upcoming Game Cube Mario game. And Paper Mario has restored my faith in his brilliance in game design. It's just that I've seen way too many series stagnate and die because sequel after sequel coems out wiht little to no changes (Tomb Raider anyone? Resident Evil?). I don't want this to happen to our beloved Mario. It probably won't as long as Miyamato's around, but it could.
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