Super Mario games just don’t get old. Seriously: you may have seen Super Smash Bros. mentioned on this site’s recent look at upcoming games; Super Mario Run topped 300 million downloads and counting as the character’s first foray into mobile gaming; there are new console games for the Nintendo Switch (the company’s best console in a few tries) every year. Somehow or other, a squat Italian plumber with a goofy outfit and a fondness for anthropomorphized toadstools remains about the most reliable figure in the entire world of gaming.
So am I the only one who feels like Nintendo actually hasn’t experimented enough with Mario? Granted they have to protect the brand and property and all that good stuff, but they also have an instant hit on their hands with virtually any new Mario release. My thinking is that it’s time to get weird about it, and put out some bolder, possibly ridiculous, but also possibly incredibly fun Mario games that Nintendo players would never have dreamed of before.
Super Mario Shooter
The answer to “why isn’t there a Super Mario shooter game?” is probably just that Nintendo wants to keep things family-friendly-ish (even though Smash Bros. basically has some shooting components). But how great would a game like this be if things were just kept somewhat cartoonish?
What if we were talking about an extended universe of Super Mario characters and perhaps a broader Nintendo cast, and you could play through different levels and multiplayer modes unlocking new characters and Nintendo-ish guns and weapons on your way. Maybe I’m weird for thinking of it in the first place, but is there any chance this game wouldn’t sell like crazy? Wouldn’t you want to stalk through a Bowser’s Keep level as a Koopa with some kind of shell launcher, or hide out on a Mushroom Kingdom palace turret as Luigi wielding a sniper rifle that knocks out opponents with little golden coins for ammunition?
Mushroom Kingdom Sim
I’m not personally one for “Sim” games or their “city builder” brethren, but there’s no denying the gigantic player bases games like these tend to have. For that matter there’s a little bit of a city builder aspect to Super Mario Run already, though it’s somewhat lazily arranged.
A full-fledged Mushroom Kingdom simulator game though – on console, mobile, or both – would probably appeal to millions upon millions of nostalgic Mario customers who just want to dive into the creativity of it all. I’d even give this a shot with a few twists, like being able to choose your own background music from a growing library of past Mario game themes, or being able to start as dastardly villain Smithy from Super Mario RPG and expand to take over Mario’s world rather than simply build it up.
Super Mario Horse Racing
This could essentially be a spin on Mario Kart and a fresh take on racing, which isn’t needed, but which would probably be well received. I even think there’s something to be said for basing a game like this on real life, with Mario-infused imitations of the world’s famous horse races comprising different circuits. Imagine, for instance, the Mario characters done up in the traditional garb of the Kentucky Derby and milling about Churchill Downs before a race.
Or consider the UK’s Grand National, an event that dates back all the way to 1839 and is as much about celebrating that tradition with a multi-day festival than it is about racing. What about Australia’s Melbourne Cup – an actual national holiday! What I’m suggesting is a racing game with some culture to it (and a certain fun crossover into the real world). You could have a whole career, training horses, making equipment and new horse purchases on racegrounds, engaging in various side games along the way, and running circuits. Okay, so I’m kind of just a horse racing nerd but… different, right?
Super Mario Apocalypse
Three words you never thought you’d see together, I’d venture to say. A lot of different inspiration could go into a game like this, both from past Mario lore and from gaming in general, but thinking broadly, I’m just picturing a game in which the standard pretty Mario levels are in turmoil, the world is threatened, and the characters must band together and use their various strengths and abilities to survive, save their homes, or form new ones.
It could even be fun to re-imagine the apocalypse game concept completely and spread things out across multiple characters, such that for a while you’d play as Mario in Mushroom Kingdom, then transition to Yoshi coping with the destruction of his island, etc.
Far Cry: Mario
This is probably my favorite idea of all time, and an idea I’d bet my very soul will never happen. Oh, well. (Somehow talk of the next Far Cry setting doesn’t include Super Mario World.) For those unfamiliar with the Far Cry series, it basically consists of games in which you control a reluctant hero thrust into a conflict not your own, and gradually transformed into an ass-kicking one-man army, fulfilling missions, wreaking havoc, and all the while exploring a glorious and expansive open world.
Now imagine a grittier and more lifelike take on Mario and Nintendo characters in this kind of setup. Mario could be dropped into a world of Mushroom Kingdom residents whose princess has been kidnapped and whose world has erupted in violence following a hostile conquest from Nintendo baddies. You’d play your way through a rebellion, gathering allies along the way and ultimately resorting the world to peace and glory. It’s absurd, but I’m pretty sure I need this game.