I’ve been avoiding screens and videos of Mario Galaxy because I want to experience it all for the first time when I am actually playing, not drunkenly browsing the web. Still, I can’t help but read as much as possible about the game and cross my fingers I don’t see too many spoilers (though I did see a huge one – whoever it was who first mentioned that thing with the guy and the thing, you know what I’m talking about, please leave the internet).
Many conversations on the game and Nintendo design in general have gravitated towards arguments over the foolishness of bleeding an IP dry. Hold on, let me get into my Nintendo Defense Force Costume…
Miyamoto has said time and again that he only creates new characters when old ones would not fit with his new gameplay ideas. He also often speaks of his design philosophy stressing that form follow from function. It follows from this that if Mario were not the star of Nintendo’s new platformer but was replaced with Xavier the Xtreme Xskimo, it’d be the same exact game.
Surely plot heavy games rely on characterization, but the kind of games Miyamoto makes are entirely about gameplay. The coat of paint he applies over the core mechanics is irrelevant (as far as play experience goes, it’s quite relevant to Nintendo’s marketing department).
Anyone who says, “I wish they’d have made a new IP instead of just using Mario again,” should really be saying, “I wish they hadn’t made a platformer.” The only time it makes sense to desire new characters is when Nintendo is making a game where characters matter, like an RPG. And even then I’m torn – Paper Mario is an awesome series.
How do I reconcile my acceptance of Mario being in 462 games a year with my insistence that Final Fantasy characters should stop all looking like women? Mario is allowed to look like himself. I look like myself and feel it’s a right I should extend to everyone, even fictional characters. If every Final Fantasy had Cloud and Sephiroth in it (oh dead god, the horror) then they could continue to look like themselves. Every new character who is not them should not look like them only with a sword made of water, or slightly poutier lips.