The 5 Most Bulls**t Mario Appearances in History
Pretty much everyone there ever was knows and loves Mario, that lovable plumber, stomper of mushrooms, mutilator of turtles, and rescuer of princesses. I bet if you Google just the word “Mario”, the first result will have to do with Nintendo’s mustachioed mascot. (I did it and it does.) He’s not just a popular character, he’s an icon. Also, Mario is like a money machine for Nintendo. Put out a game and slap Mario’s name on it, and it sells like hotcakes. He’s like a magic goose that lays golden coins. See what I did there?
Yay! Mario! I like Mario!
Problem is, this makes for more than a few attempts at cashing in on a license without putting forth the effort to create a quality game behind it. Sure, Mario kicks ass when he’s in a legit Mario game, where he does all the stuff I just listed off, but a lot more of the time, Nintendo’s just trying to sneak a stinker past us.
On Sunday, we get the probably-awesome-but-goofily-named Super Mario 3D Land, the first legit Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy 2 in early 2010. The Tanooki suit is back, he gets to throw boomerangs, it’s in 3D, and boy does it look like it’s gonna be great. However, to celebrate this rare occasion, let’s take a moment and look at the five most completely bullsh*tted attempts to cash in on the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom that history has ever seen.
Mario’s Time Machine (NES, SNES, and MS-DOS)
Based on the name alone, this game could be the coolest thing ever. Immediately, I imagine Mario riding a dinosaur through colonial America, with his trusty terra cotta Chinese warrior sidekick, stomping robotic redcoats and burning zombie Hitler to death with a fire flower he borrowed from Jesus Christ. This and only this is what I would expect from a game called Mario’s Time Machine, because anything else would be a total and complete waste of such an incredible title. Instead, however, we get this:
What? Why? Bowser has a museum? Stupid, yes, but that’s not nearly all that’s wrong here. The logic of this game is so flawed! Bowser’s going to keep Yoshi prisoner until Mario steals everything out of his museum and takes it back through time to where it goes. Why would he do this? Why would he like, bait the one dude who ALWAYS beats him into ruining his museum, which he probably spent a bunch of time putting together? I mean, it’s not like he’s stealing these pieces from other museums. He’s literally TIME TRAVELING to get these things, which is basically an impossible task, and the best evil plan he could come up with was to have Mario forcibly take them from him and put them back? And look at this bullshit security system! You’re telling me Bowser was like, “Oh I know! I’ll lay two innocent Koopa Troopa lives on the line by having them protect my artifacts in small, easy to navigate rooms that work just like a shitty version of Mario Bros.!”? Ridiculous.
So then, after you walk through the weirdly empty museum, easily defeat a couple Koopas, grab the artifact, and hop in the time machine, you’re probably as sure as I was that the real game was about to begin. WRONG. Like, sure, you go to ancient Greece or Florence or wherever, but really, all you do is jump on a few more shitty Koopas and hit a bunch of boxes that cause paragraphs of text to appear on the screen that say things that are barely facts, but that try and pass themselves off as knowledge that the game is actually teaching you. Ick.
So yeah, basically, what could have been probably the COOLEST MARIO GAME EVER is actually just a really brief, vague encyclopedia that’s hard to read because instead of pages, it’s written inside of a video game that LOOKS like Mario but plays like, oh, I don’t know, a calculator wristwatch. And yeah, I know the SNES version is a little better than the NES one, but that’s like saying it’s better to gnaw off my own hand than to have a dog do it. Bullsh*t.
Dr. Mario (NES and Gameboy)
Now, before I’m disemboweled by basically everybody, let me begin by saying that I enjoy Dr. Mario just as much as anyone else. I probably play it more than I play Tetris, and it’s like, a perfect toilet/bus ride game. In this case, the quality of the game has nothing to do with why it’s bullshit. Instead, it has to do almost entirely with the premise. Take it away, Nintendo!
“An experiment gone awry has unleashed a slew of viruses onto Mushroom Kindgdom Hospital! Help Dr. Mario battle these nasty bugs by throwing multi-colored vitamins at them.”
Huh? Doctor Mario, eh? When did that happen? He wasn’t a doctor before! Did he attend medical school in the Mushroom Kingdom? My guess is “no” for two reasons. One, throwing multi-colored vitamins is absolutely not the way to cure anyone of anything. Second, there is no way that something large enough to throw a vitamin at is actually a virus. I guess we can justify this second part by saying that maybe this “experiment gone awry” has caused the viruses to grow to outrageous sizes, but like, okay, then my second point is that no real doctor puts his first name after his title. Whatever. There’s no way that anyone can explain this premise to me, especially considering what the gameplay consists of, where I’ll be like, “Yeah, okay. NOW I see why this had to be a Mario game.”
The logical next step for the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom
It’s a falling blocks puzzle game, guys. I guess it makes sense to give it a theme, but like, what was that board room like for that meeting? I like to imagine that there was a guy who was spearheading “Team Doctor Theme” and another guy leading “Team No Way Let’s Make It Another Mario Game”, and they fought a bunch, until their boss made them go out and grab a beer so they would arrive at a compromise. That is literally the only reasonable situation I can fathom which results in the creation of this game. Bowser’s not in the game, Peach isn’t in the game, there’s no Yoshi, no Luigi, no Goombas, Koopas, nothing. Why is it a Mario game? The other bullshitty thing is how many times this game has come out. There’s like, ten versions! And they're barely even sequels. They’re really just the same game with better graphics! And they all sell well! Insane!
In a nutshell, Dr. Mario, while fun, could be anything. Nothing about it has to do with the Mario universe, and even less of it makes sense. Great game, dumb premise, all bullsh*t.
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games (Wii and DS)
Man, remember the 90’s? Remember when Sonic and Mario were bitter rivals, and Sega and Nintendo were always trying to one-up each other for that top spot? I bet someone else did, too, when they absolutely pitched Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games like this: “What better way to honor the message of co-operation and solidarity that the Olympics represent than to bring Mario and Sonic, the US and Soviet Union of gaming, together at last? Oh yeah, and people love mini-games.”
It was this perfect divine mixture of schmaltz and shovelware that shot to the top of the Wii sales charts in Winter of 2007, but who does anyone think they’re kidding? At first glance, one might lump this game in with something like Mario Kart or Mario Tennis, but that would be a mistake. Those games are all set in the Mushroom Kingdom, and beyond just playing as all your favorite Mario characters, they really take steps to integrate that world into the gameplay. This is just the real Olympics with cartoon characters instead of athletes. It’s like they were afraid to just make a straight Olympics game, so they added the Nintendo and Sega characters to ensure its success.
Also, Kart and Tennis stick to one thing each, and do it very well. The racing in Mario Kart is probably the best of any kart racing out there, and Mario Tennis is arguably one of the best multiplayer titles for N64. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, however, is just a collection of mini-games. It’s so crappy when you get a game like this, where you can tell that they spent a bunch of time making a few of the games fun, and filled in the rest with sh*tty little poops of content that actually objectively suck. It’s like a scheme, bros! And it’s not even a clever one! It’s like a magic trick that your nine-year-old nephew does that’s really just him throwing a card over his shoulder, but you have to pretend it’s amazing, but instead of pretending its amazing, you have to spend fifty bucks on a lame game.
How dare they use Mario for something like this! And Sonic, too! I don’t care what they do with someone like Vector, because he’s a horrible character and represents everything that’s wrong with the Sonic franchise, but it’s still a bunch of bullsh*t.
Mario Paint (SNES)
Mario Paint is like, neat. Actually, “neat” is the perfect way to describe it, because it perfectly captures the legitimate interest I have in it as a concept without implying any sort of excitement. People make all kinds of fun sh*t with it which you can see all over youtube (type “Mario Paint ANYTHING” and it’ll probably exist), but it’s basically a glorified, proof-of-concept tech demo for the weird SNES mouse peripheral. Like, what can it even do? It’s barely a game!
Alright, so let’s see. You can do some basic drawing, make and place stamps, and make SUPER sh*tty animations with SUPER sh*tty music. That sounds a lot like this awesome game I used to have call MS Paint, but mixed with this other incredibly deep game on my mac called Garageband. Those are my two favorite ga-GAH! SHUT UP! IT’S NOT A F**KING GAME! IT’S NOT! AHHH!
So where does Mario come in? I’ll tell you where. Whoever it was who was tasked with selling this ga-NO! NOT A GAME! ...selling this “thing” to the people was probably having a hard week, and instead of doing anything else, he was just like “Meh, slap a little Mario on there.” , and they did, and voila, a cherished classic is born, regardless of whether any gameplay was present or not.
An unaltered screenshot from “Gnat Attack”
In fact, the only part Mario Paint that actually IS a game is a little mini-game called “Gnat Attack”, and Mario isn’t in it at all! It’s like, you swat flies and then you fight a big fly, and then it starts over, and that’s it. I’ll say it again. The game in Mario MARIO MARIO!!!!! Paint is the part where you SWAT FLIES. BULLSH*T.
So this is the number one entry, and let me tell you the exact and incredibly personal reason why. The other day I was browsing the eShop on my 3DS (I know, I know, LOL, blah blah blah), and I was excited to notice a tab marked “Mario Games”. I tapped on it, and was happy to go on a little nostalgia trip looking at both Super Mario Lands, Dr. Mario, Mario’s Picross, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, all the Game and Watch games, and...Alleyway. ALLEYWAY?
What? It’s just a Breakout clone! The only thing I could remember connecting Mario with Alleyway was that the blocks sometimes looked like a giant Mario sprite in the bonus round, but surely that wasn’t the only reason they had it listed as a Mario game, was it? I didn’t think so. So I bought it and began to scour it for any sign of our silly Italian hero. Then I looked at the box art, and I noticed something tiny, just visible inside the paddle. “What is that? Is that...? No! No way! With his back turned to us? What’s he doing? Is he...? Oh, WHAT THE F...”
Also, this game apparently takes place in the bathwater of a sad clown.
There’s a tiny little Mario on there at the controls INSIDE the paddle! I was stunned! I booted up the game and sure enough, right as I was about to start, a tiny little Mario flashes onto the screen for half a second, and hops into the paddle! No wonder my lives icon was in the shape of Mario’s face! In like the shittiest way ever, Alleyway is actually attempting to be a game where you play as Mario! And it’s only on the first stage! That’s like, obscene!
I mean look how quickly he just jumps in there, and then how fully the game proceeds to have literally nothing to do with Mario. It’s not even like the game benefits from it. It’s just like, Nintendo was like, “Hey, guys. You know how we own the rights to Mario? Let’s just like, get him in there for a minute. Why not? It’s 1989! We’re on the top of the world! Pass me a Tab soda!” Like, they just did it because they could, like they’re just pretty much throwin’ Mario around willy-nilly at this point. He just jumps in, it closes, and that’s all you ever see of him. You could literally play that game for one hour, and only see Mario for one second, and Nintendo sold it to me as a Mario game. Bullsh*t.
So, I can see how, after reading all this, someone might be convinced that maybe I just hate Mario. I promise that’s not the case. I love Mario. Believe me, no one is more excited than I to play Super Mario 3D Land when it comes out this Sunday, but maybe I do treat Mario a little too harshly. I mean I grew up with the little guy. It’s tough for me not to see his likeness as a stamp of quality and a long tradition. For me, Mario’s presence means something. That’s why it’s hard for me to see all these games that are basically jokes.
But I mean hey, maybe it’s no coincidence that Nintendo’s reputation, at least among hardcore gamers, is kind of not so good right now. Maybe I’m not the only one who’s miffed about all these weird games. Maybe it’s just as simple as that. Put out less video games, all of which are good, and people will respect your franchise. I mean shoot, Nintendo, look within your own catalog for a shining example of exactly this, guys! Zelda’s been killin’ it for 25 years! Oh shit, Skyward Sword, you guys.
Two A-List games in one month, Nintendo? No wonder I’ve got a rock hard bone-daddy.