Recently, our Twitter Timeline has been abuzz with discussion on Super Mario Bros 2, started by friend of the show Calen Brait. The discussion of course broke down to the best character to use in the game (we know real fans use Luigi), but that’s neither here nor there.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence in Mario games, not that he hasn’t always been around. But between 1996 (Super Mario 64) and 2005 (new Super Mario Bros DS) there were only 3 new Mario platformers released. Compared to the last 5 years or so where we’ve had a Mario game almost every year since 2007, and you can see they’ve ramped up production of his games. Interestingly enough, at least to me, Nintendo has done a great job of not overplaying the franchise by making 3 distinct games. While the core concept (run and jump) and plot (Save the Princess) is the same throughout all of these games, they feel and play very different. I doubt many people would compare the Galaxy games to the New Super Mario Bros series and even Super Mario 3D Land, which attempts to walk the line between them, feels unique to itself.
Granted, they have recently switched focus to making the “new” line of games the dominant Mario platformers with 2 new Super Mario Bros games due this year. I know that the “new” series is rather divisive among fans, but they do offer a nice throwback to classic Mario games. Or at least a subset of old-school Mario games. While the original, Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World share pretty similar game play concepts, there is a game in the early franchise that stands out. That would be Super Mario Bros 2 or Super Mario Bros USA if you lived in Japan.
Super Mario Bros 2 has a storied history that most people already know, but for the quick cut: Super Mario Bros 2 is actually another Nintendo game, Doki Doki Panic, converted to include Mario characters and certain elements. It is the reason the game plays so vastly different from any of the other 2D offerings. Sadly though, the game has never been touched again even though some elements (mostly villains) have found their way into other Mario projects.
So that brings us to the point of this article, new Super Mario Bros USA (not going with 2 since Nintendo is already using the title and would just be confusing all around!), a game that revives the Super Mario Bros 2 formula with a few wrinkles.
First would be the normal Mario dressings being done away with. I know the game as being presented here is new Super Mario Bros USA, but I’m going to suggest Nintendo do away with Mario, Princess Peach and Bowser in this game. Why? Well, the trio already star in enough Mario games being at the center of the new Super Mario series, the 3D Mario games and even the Mario RPG series to varying degrees.
Instead, the lead of the game would go with the OTHER Mario Bros, yes Luigi would be the star of the game (he is afterall still a Super Mario Bro), and much like Super Mario Bros 2, this game would feature 4 pickable characters. Joining Luigi would be Wario, Waluigi and Princess Daisy. Part of this is to give these characters a larger role in the general Mario-verse, but they will be analogous to characters from the original game. Luigi would take over his brother’s role as the more well-rounded character. Daisy would of course replace Peach, Wario would become the new Toad, and Waluigi the new Luigi.
And I mentioned they would take over the role from the original so yes I want new Super Mario Bros USA to bring back trait-based platforming. This would really help to differentiate the series from the new Super Mario line of games as well.
We have our heroes, but what about our villains? While Mario is known for his eternal struggle against Bowser, he has actually done battle with several other foes throughout the course of his career. In particular, he did battle with a brand new foe in Super Mario Bros 2, Wart. It would only be fitting to bring back the veggie hating bad guy for another turn as a master villain.
Since Wart has only had one turn as a villain, and to this date remains his only appearance in the franchise, I’m not necessarily sure if he could carry a game on his own. Granted, Mario games aren’t really known for their huge plot points. I do think it would be best to be joined by Fawful to add in some magical elements, and always thought a fantastic villain. This would also allow a variety of foes from the Mario RPGs and Super Mario Bros 2.
As for the actual plot, I’m not quite sure what to do with it. Since I want Daisy as a playable character, and it would make no sense for Wario and Waluigi to be all about saving her, we would avoid the save the princess plot from other Mario games. Perhaps, in a throwback to Super Mario Bros 2, Wart and Fawful team up to pull back our heroes into Subcon, and they must find a way to return or get out of Subcon. It doesn’t really matter, it’s a Mario game afterall.
We’ve got our heroes, we got our villains and their henchmen, the only thing left is the game play. Once more, we shall return to the core foundation of the original game, which did away with Mario and companies ability to kill enemies by stomping them. Though, I’m not 100% on the idea of bringing back the ability to rip vegetables out of the ground. The idea makes sense, but I feel veggies are just so cheesy. At the same time, how many games can you actually say allow you to attack with them. I guess they can stay 1)Because it would be odd for SubCon not to have them 2)Wart still hates them.
To evolve the formula a bit, and to work in the concept of co-op in the game, I would borrow ideas from the GBA re-release of the game. Stuff like larger veggies that are harder to take out, but easier to do with more partners. Hidden Yoshi coins throughout the level to give you a reason to replay it. And perhaps power-ups, not your traditional Mario ones but stuff that makes you jump faster, higher, pick faster, toss more rapidly and all that fun jazz.
There could also be some co-op specific abilities that carry over like the bubble system from NSMBWii, and the ability to pick up and carry your teammates. And if the technology is smart, could also enable certain pitfalls that need the players working in unison to overcome. I’m not a designer so I couldn’t really work it out.
Anyhow, like I mentioned at the start New Super Mario Bros USA, gives Nintendo another entry in the Mario series while going away from a lot of the staples in a conventional manner. You get a new cast of characters to play with and the return of some elements that have fallen to the wayside in the decades since the franchise hit it big. It may never happen, but it is cool to think about.