I'm playing through Super Mario Sunshine now after 18 years away from the game and I've fallen back in love with Isle Delfino and the weirdness that is a part of it. I love the Piantas, the odd enemies (Strollin' Stu, lookin' at you) and creativity the team had in creating a cohesive landscape to stuff with 120 challenges for Shines. It reminded me of the news that was circulated back in July about no new characters being allowed in Paper Mario games and that bummed me out.
On the one hand I understand that Nintendo is a big global mega developer and shareholders will be demanding that certain measures are taken to "protect the value of Nintendo's IP" on the other hand I think the lack of new character design and freedom in story creativity is starting to affect the franchise, maybe some games more than others (looking at you Mario RPG's).
Let's take the Pianta's for example, they made their debut in Super Mario Sunshine and have been reused very effectively in a couple instances since then. The most obvious to me is the hilarous Don Pianta.
In Mario and the Thousand Year Door we got to see this funny gang of Piantas running amok in Rogueport and get tied into their turf war and personal storyline in the game. While I am enjoying the new Paper Mario game, and it is a much more enjoyable experience than Paper Jam or even Color Splash, I am bummed that we won't be able to get new Toadsworths, or new Koopa/Goomba partners like ParaKarry.
Unique character designs that go along with their more significant place in the game mythos I think help me remember games fondly and develop emotional attachments to the experiences. The closest thing I can thing of to this is Bobby from Origami King, but his lack of a distinct design really hampered the story telling impact of Bobby's story. I liked what the team was trying to do with him, but without being able to make distinct characters that also shared the same world with Mario, it feels like new characters don't have the same staying power and recognition older ones did.
I guess I should specify and could be more clear. games like Mario Odyssey have some great art design, but there aren't a lot of what I would call characters in those games. It's really just Peach, Mario, Bowser, and Cappy. There were all sorts of fun designs, but they weren't characters who wanted things, or had story arcs. Maybe I'm dilineating too much.
Maybe that's intentional, a focus on gameplay over story, but especially in the RPG series it feels like an odd decision, since they should go hand in hand to help each other. And so much of Sunshine's great unique feel comes from Delfino feeling like on of the most real locations in the Mushroom world, I just am a bit bummed we won't be able to see an approach like that in the near future. What's everyone else feel about character design in Mario games? Any excitement for characters in new Nintendo Switch Mario games coming out? Any standouts from Mario Odyssey for example? To me I don't really think of any the way I think of F.U.D.D. or Rosalina, or Kammy Koopa.
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