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The Day the Mario Died

Or "Who's Mansion?!"

    "November 5th, 2001. A day which will live... in infamy! The United State of A-Mario was viciously and ruthlessly attacked by the Republic of Luigi."

    Sorry to borrow such a serious quote for such a trivial topic, but it just came to me. If you don't understand what the quote is referring to, let me clarify: On November 5th, Nintendo will released the GameCube, potentially the first Nintendo system ever to launch without a Mario game.

    I don't think I was the only one surprised to not see a playable Mario game at this years E3 expo. Given the great reception the Super Mario 128 Demo got at last years Space World show, you would think Mario would be central to Nintendo's E3 presentation this year. Oh sure, he was playable in Super Smash Bros. Melee (along with the cool new addition of Bowser and Peach!). Granted, it was said that he will play 'some part' in Luigi's Mansion (My guess: He's been captured by the ghosts). But where is the real Mario game?Where's the more mature Mario Miyamato has been going on and on about? Where's the oft-talked about successor to Super Mario 64 that it seems the entire gaming world has been waiting five years for? Nowhere to be found.

    Mario's history with Nintendo system launches has been phenomenal. Super Mario Bros. was the flagship title for the NES from the systems launch until the release of SMB3. Super Mario Land,along with Tetris, helped give the Game Boy a large enough head start to stop the technically superior Game Gear a year later. The Super NES was a wild success despite a launch that included only three games, mostly because one of them was a Mario game. Likewise is the case of the Nintendo 64, which sold 300,000 systems it's first weekend almost solely on the strength of Super Mario 64. Mario is even doing phenomonally on the recently released Game Boy Advance, despite the fact that Super Mario Advance is merely a rehash of Super Mario Bros. 2 and Mario Bros. Given this history, why would Nintendo turn its back on Mario for the GameCube's launch?

    Well, first off, we're not sure that GameCube won't launch with a Mario game. Since E3, many upper-ups at Nintendo, including Shigeru Miyamato, have hinted that a Mario game may be shown at Nintendo's upcoming Space World show this August. Indications are that this game is moving along nicely, and may even be playable at Space World, and released by the end of the year. If this turns out to be the case, then this rant is kind of moot.

    Secondly, it's not as if Mario has been totally abandoned for the launch. Mario and friends will have quite a presence in Super Smash Bros. Melee, one of the GameCube's highest profile games. And Luigi's Mansion seems well equipped to take the place of the absent Mario launch title and provide an innovative gameplay experience at the same time. Who knows, this might even silence all those whiny Luigi fans once and for all.

    So I suppose that things could be worse for our plumber pal, even if he doesn't let his own launch game on the GameCube. It just seems a shame that Nintendo could throw out over 15 years of tradition history with this upcoming launch. I urge anyone at Nintendo who may be reading this... don't sell your mascot's future short. If at all possible, work hard to get that all important Mario game ready and out the door by November 5th, or at least by years end. Thank you.

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