The Bigger Man

1 Nov

Nintendo’s latest installments in their two biggest franchises, Mario and Zelda, were rather lackluster in my opinion. It appears that the creator of both, Shigeru Miyamoto, agrees that “there was something missing.”

While Mario Galaxy pulled off a few new tricks that resulted in a fairly fun game, it and Twilight Princess were far too derivative, leaving me with the sensation that not only have I played these games before, but that I’ve played better versions too.

Twilight Princess‘ only unique offering that deserves to stick around is its stylish new visual design. Overall, the game did nothing to successfully innovate over the previous 3D Zeldas, instead focusing on tacked-on motion controls that are in no way superior to the 3rd party shovelware that people complain about left and right.

While I suppose the game was better than a lot of other games that came out in 2006, there’s nothing Twilight Princess does better than Ocarina of Time, and that’s a problem. This is similar to the relationship between Mario Galaxy and Mario 64.

Mario Galaxy was pretty fun and offered some interesting innovation, but it was even more formulaic than Twilight Princess. And while Mario 64 is still the superior game, I’m not so sure it should be emulated like it has in Galaxy and Sunshine.

The transition into 3D suited both Mario and Zelda, but the transition favored the latter far more. The whole ‘hub world with smaller worlds locked off by stars’ concept was interesting when we first saw it on the N64, but I’m not sure why Nintendo felt this suited the Mario series so well that it should become the norm.

I think, rather than exploring a castle or a town or a space station, Mario should go on a full-fledged adventure next time around. Over the years, the Mario universe has become so rich with unique characters and lands that an adventure across the Mushroom Kingdom would be very much welcome. It could still retain the focus on 3D platforming, but now it could incorporate an actual story and offer a more rewarding experience.

As for Zelda, I’m not sure what needs to be done. I do know that I’d like to use tools and weapons outside of the dungeons I acquire them in; dungeons designed to test the limits of that item and that item only.

Luckily, it appears that Miyamoto is aware of these shortcomings.

In an interview with MTV Multiplayer’s Stephen Totilo, Miyamoto had this to say:

“What I’ve been saying to our development teams recently is that Twilight Princess was not a bad game, by any means. But, still, it felt like there was something missing. And while, personally, I feel like Super Mario Galaxy was able to do some things that were very new and were very unique, at the same time, from another perspective, certain elements of it do feel somewhat conservative in terms of how far we branched out with design. And so this is something I’ve been talking to both of those teams about.” -Miyamoto

This is so good to hear.

Often, while fantasizing about what it’ll be like when I’m finally a big shot, professional video game journalist (:P), I imagine myself interviewing Miyamoto, asking him why he felt he could get away with releasing a game like Twilight Princess or what he was thinking when it came to marketing products like Wii Fit and Wii Music to not only the casuals, but the core as well.

To see Miyamoto admit to sharing the same opinion as me, and so easily without any hard, in-your-face questioning, is incredibly refreshing. And to hear Miyamoto bring this up in the context of discussing it with his development teams is great news. I look forward to what Nintendo comes up with in the next console installments of Mario and Zelda.

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