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The Day The Mario Died

Gone but Not Forgotten
Jordan BiordiMarch 31, 2021 12:00 pm
In only two short days, the 35th Anniversary of everyone’s favourite plumber Mario will be over; and with that comes the removal of all the games Nintendo released to celebrate this momentous occasion—and also that localized, $30 NES Fire Emblem for some reason…

With gamers no longer able to access: Super Mario 3D All Stars—both in stores, and digitally; the Nintendo Online exclusive Super Mario 35, and the special edition Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros, many upset gamers online are heralding this time as, “the day Mario dies.”

And, much like the parents of many of these same gamers, I’m not upset…I’m just disappointed. I mean, just think about how ridiculous of an idea that is—the day that you can’t go to a store and give Nintendo your money, for one single product; is the day Super Mario dies. Super Mario! One of the longest running, and most influential franchises in gaming history. I get the hyperbole and all that, but this is a special brand of stupidity.

Super Mario 3D All Stars Review 2
Mario 64

Nintendo fans are a special kind of fandom—and I say that as possibly one of the biggest ones on this site! They are both incredibly demanding, yet impossible to please; and somehow the most defensive of Nintendo’s products. It’s something I’ve noticed since the days of the Wii U, when I spent countless hours in the Miiverse being told I was wrong about the objective quality of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, or Paper Mario Sticker Star. And let’s not forget about that time when Nintendo announced a 3DS spin-off for Metroid Prime and it became one of the most disliked videos in Youtube history.

Even today, Nintendo can’t even release a cute little update post for Animal Crossing New Horizons on the Isabelle Twitter account without a legion of “fans” swarming the comments to complain about how bad the game is, and how Nintendo doesn’t cater to their demands enough. Or, in the case of Mario’s 35th Anniversary, Nintendo apparently didn’t cater to fans in the way that they wanted.

It’s so bizarre to me—from the initial announcement that Super Mario 3D All Stars and Super Mario 35 would only be available for a year, “fans” were bemoaning the fact that they wouldn’t be able to purchase a product after a certain point; and criticizing Nintendo for their terrible business decisions.

Weirder still is the claim that this is a sort of "erasure" of gaming history, or a destruction of the archival of games; as many gamers point to the recent announcement of Sony's closure of the Playstation Store on PS3, PSP and PSVita. Now the shuttering of storefronts on obsolete consoles is nothing new—even Nintendo closed the Wii Shop Channel back in 2019—but of the Super Mario games, supposedly being "erased," two are still available on the WiiU eShop, with both Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy are still available to purchase. And last I checked, everyone still hates Super Mario Sunshine—even me, a long-time defender of the game, now willing to admit it doesn't totally hold up—so what exactly are people so upset about?

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Mario Galaxy

In relation to the limited availability of these 35th Anniversary offerings, President of Nintendo, Doug Bowser said, “this is a celebration of Mario’s 35th anniversary. And we wanted to celebrate in unique and different ways,” adding, “with some of these titles, we felt it was an opportunity to release them for a limited period of time.”

And honestly, I don’t really hate that idea. Video games, as a medium, has evolved so much since it’s humble arcade roots; it’s so much more fluid than it used to be, and the concept of games that are only available as a celebration of a specific event, makes that event all the more special. I get that this might not be realistic for everyone, since people have different economic, or logistic circumstances, but it’s not really about being realistic, it’s about creating a moment—and unfortunately, not everyone gets invited to every party. I apologize if that sounds elitist.

Now, on the one hand, one could argue that this makes no sense from a business perspective, since Nintendo could EASILY capitalize on nostalgia as well as introduce new gamers to these Super Mario classics. Furthermore, there is DEFINITELY an argument to be made that Nintendo is exploiting FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to create a sense of exclusivity around these products, and manipulate them into buying—which many will argue was the case with the limited availability of Amiibos and the NES/SNES Classics.

On the other hand, Nintendo has long been the King of the gaming mountain—regardless of how much you want to argue which console/console manufacturer is the best; they’re sitting on a mountain of money, even AFTER the Wii U. They’ve always been the weird, eccentric company that takes chances, thinks outside the box, and does unconventional things. Limiting the sale of a Mario collection to a year in celebration of the series’ 35th Anniversary is exactly the kind of weird thing they would do, and it’s not all that surprising.

Regardless of whatever motivations, the bottom line that I think many Nintendo fans forget is Nintendo doesn’t owe them anything. I think this is the reason so many fans are so vocally upset when Animal Crossing doesn’t have enough items; or when Pokémon doesn’t look as graphically impressive as they think it should. A large portion of Nintendo fans are people my age, who grew up with them and have been loyal consumers for most of their adult life. My belief is they feel their lifetime of loyalty should be rewarded—either with the games they’ve been dreaming of for years, or the opportunity to consume without hindrance.

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This might seem like glib generalization of a fanbase, but this was something I noticed in February, when The Legend of Zelda was also gearing up to celebrate it’s 35th Anniversary, and yet Nintendo shared not a word about it. Many fans took to Twitter and Reddit to question why Nintendo didn’t care about The Legend of Zelda, and how disappointing it felt that instead of a Super Mario 3D All Stars collection pack with the classic Zeldas remastered in HD, fans were only given Skyward Sword—their complaint was a lack of content, both in acknowledgement and products to purchase. But despite the most obvious hypothesis that Nintendo would wait until the Mario 35th event was finished before moving on to a year of Zelda, fans quickly voiced their frustrations regardless of consideration.

But at the end of the day, Nintendo is a business, free to make its own decisions and no amount of nostalgic attachment is going to change that. While they’re certainly not free from criticism, they’re definitely one of the better companies—they’re not crunching their employees into nervous breakdowns like Bioware, Rockstar, or CD Projekt Red; or filling their games with gambling mechanics and ACTUALLY killing studios like EA.

So no, dear reader, March 31st is not the “Day Mario Dies.” Super Mario will long outlive any of us. There will still be new games, toys and t-shirts for nostalgic fans to buy. Nintendo may not supply to your demand, but they will always know how to create nostalgia, and when new fans are our age, Nintendo will know how to cater to them—and I’m sure they’ll complain that it’s not enough, just as much as present day fans.

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