Home Mario Oddities Nintendo Adventure Book Guides Music Charvel Jackson Page Articles Personal Collections My Works Archives

Mario Oddities: Smorgasbord #2 (Under Construction)

Beat me up if ya want!

Enjoy a second collection of Mario Oddity articles, even more flamebaity than the other one! Updated regularly! Enjoy.

Table of Contents

  1. Defending Super Mario Land
  2. The "Super Mario Galaxy 2 Effect"
  3. A Brief Look at the Super Mario 35 and relating anniversary
  4. The "Super Paper Mario Effect"??
  5. Why did we actually hate Mario Party 9?
  6. The Koopaling's equally rapid disappearance and rebound
  7. Amiibo Was a Fantastic Ideal for Nintendo, but...
  8. The Rough State of Mario - circa WiiU
Super Mario Land

In Defense of Super Mario Land

Super Mario Land: It’s a 1989 launch game for the Gameboy! I like the unique themeing, concept and some of the ideas here. Yes the game overall is mediocre in context of the entire series, but rather interesting and important historically. We must remember how early of a platform game this is for Mario. There was SMB 1 and…. SMB 2! That’s it at least if you were American. So there isn’t a whole lot of precedent set, compounded by this being a launch title for the system. With that in mind I respect it for what it tries to do, bring Mario platforming to your handheld. Of course the limitations show in some elements like the visuals and game play mechanics. For instance there are bombshell koopas instead of koopa troopas because they didn’t want to program shell bouncing. The other enemies also have odd untranslated names which would never fly now. But again, we can forgive some of this for the time. The music is legitimately good. We also introduce Daisy who is infamous for several reasons. Despite it being a main series game, Daisy is regulated to spin offs, entirely unlike characters like Bowser Junior or Rosalina. Having an original villain is neat from our modern perspective where some character choices are cliche, but at the time it wouldn’t be too weird to introduce new characters for new Mario games. I think it’s worth a play through to experience a different environment and some of the unexpected gameplay changes they throw at you. It’s a short journey, in fact that was a complaint back in the day- but leaves you no excuse to not check it out now!

What is the Super Mario Galaxy 2 Effect?

Peach and Mario gaming


Nintendo is and has always been a company of quality, so what am I talking about? That computer is a lie, this will not be a big rant or me drinking the haterade, rather a nuanced take based on my observations growing up with Mario and Nintendo since the early 00s.

Let's start with the original 2007 Super Mario Galaxy compared to the sequel in 2010. Personally, while it had fun moments it was to me like on-disc DLC,the developers as much as admitting such. Now, that's not a problem in itself, but the focus was clearly on the levels, an almost stripped down New Super Mario Bros approach. You have no hub, of the Observatory, you travel on the Starship Mario level to level. What little bit of background story the first game afforded isn't even attempted either. They did the dreaded time reset! Some of these changes can be interpreted as quality of life alterations, such as allowing Luigi to be playable without a tedious journey, and as soulless as skipping level to level is, it does save time, so not everything I'm pointing out is negative. This game is only the proto-example of the trope above. Only a glimpse of what was to come. That brings me to this:

The 'Super Mario Galaxy 2' effect is when a sequel or next game in the series is polished and objectively 'better' in ways that are dazzling yet more shallow than it's predecessor, sometimes inexplicably inventing problems or at worse removing what made series popular with fans.

yoshi committing speeding fraud to accompany the tax thing

Above: Some good ideals and some godawful ones like this..

To give this viewpoint some background, I consider the Wii was the last ‘uncharted’ era for Mario, where even then there were signs of the times: a lot of sequels, or series continuations there as well. The reason I don't feel these apply to the above however, is that while incorporating what many feel are gimmicks like motion controls, most of those games aren't half baked jobs like we start to find in the WiiU era. Here came the rehashes, cookie cutter entries, or content starved continuations of much beloved sub-franchises..

The common link in the chain of mediocre games is this: When something is GREAT, or even just 'okay', Nintendo milks it to death and gets away with it most of the time too. Super Mario 3D Land was a great game and 2013's 3D World as well, if unnecessarily padded at times.. Remember what I said happens to good stuff? We'll come back to those. Mario Kart 7 is well like by many, but it was rushed out the doors. I talk about it more here. Paper Mario had it’s biggest and most divisive bomb in 2012, Sticker Star. It’s never 'fully' recovered since. Mario Party was already getting shaky with some, but nothing ruffled feathers like Mario Party 9 in that same year. Again the franchise has not fully recovered. New Super Mario Bros 2 is often called the weakest entry. Guess what? 2012. See a pattern? Mario Tennis Open? More like 'Mario Tennis Empty of Content'. New Super Mario Bros U was better, but has also been rehashed twice since. Yoshi's New Island wasn't loved too much in 2014 for besides the levels, appearance and sound.

It keeps going.. The original version of Mario Kart 8 from 2014 had more content than & MK7, but was lackluster enough for them feel the need to revitalize rather than simply port it over in 2017 for Switch. (More thoughts on rereleases far below) MP10 refused to let go of the car in 2015. Mario began to branch out into mobile games too. I don't want to dip too far into those. I don't have high regard for that platform in general. I believe the consensus is that they are decent, just not comparable to a full console experience. Let's get back on track. All we are describing is a mild yet insidious decline in the quality of Mario games and, in some ways, our tolerance for it as long as it isn't a dumpster fire, which Mario almost never is. Is there hope?

Exceptions: ..Sure? And in unexpected places. The Mario golf titles are more solid, at least compared to what's happened to a lot of the Tennis ones. Mario Party Superstars is one rehash that makes some sense to me, pulling from several generations back as opposed to all of the WiiU stuff being dragged onto the Switch instead of newer ideas. There are additional glimmers of magnificence in this era, where you can really tell they 'got it' and captured the spirit of old Mario. Mario Odyssey did that, straying thankfully from the railroading in the Galaxy games. I had some issues with Paper Mario Origami King's gameplay, but from a narrative perspective, it's undeniable they were trying to write the most genuine and witty way possible with their strict characterization restraints. Also to this day, it's the best implantation of the new Paper Mario style.

Update: More on this. Well in 2023 onward my point mostly stands. Super Mario Wonder did break a cycle with the sidescrollers, so let's give credit where it's due. Remakes continue with Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario: TTYD. That doesn't fall under this category really, being for fans that were too young for the originals, not into gaming, or had sold or lost their old systems. I fully respect that, however, being selfish here, I own my vintage stuff, so while I'll not be exactly against remakes I'll not champion for them either much. I. Want. New. Content. Now back to the subject, let's talk about an aversion to this effect more clear so I’m not totally a crotchety old fan.

Mario Maker Above: Despite cheap gimmicks, there's something solid here

-Mario Maker 2. Surprisingly an improved sequel. See trope. Ha (they've kinda fell off these days), no but really. The 3D world assets clash horrendously in my opinion with the SMB/ SMW/ SMB3/ NSMB Wii U styles, because in those games Mario runs on 3D platformer logic more than 2D, and the 3D world stages produced to lock you in 2D only but.. I digress. Making custom worlds is cool even if too much effort for a lot of people to bother with unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong, some old problems carry over, some hard to impossible to curve on a game sourced by user generated levels. There’s the imperfect way the game ‘grades’ the difficulty, and thus curating of levels. The homogeneous trend hopping and pandering to Let’s Players, troll levels, pseudo kaizo, or being too easy with hardly any in between, and a new problem ‘Worlds’ that are just random levels on shuffle. The challenge mode is tweaked to only be on infinite instead of having an end point. Not that bad, but it does lead to players over curating the levels instead of giving some a fair try, because you must conserve lives more than ever. Oh well. Good try at least.

Mario's execution date... I mean, Super Mario 35

Mario anniversary

What is it?

Super Mario Bros 35 is a limited time online multiplayer battle royale 2D game on the Nintendo Switch, available only until March 31, 2021. At the time of writing this, that’s certainly in the past. This game is based on the NES’s Super Mario Bros and while it may seem like a fun remake, this is really an endurance match. To start thirty-five players simultaneously play through various levels from the original game and your goal is to be the last player standing. Every player’s screens and their progress are visible and at any time, and as long as the player has coins they can use an item Roulette to possibly help them. That will not be easy as each enemy you defeat is sent to the screen of another player, which in particular you can determine or leave random. There is also a timer always counting down that will end your run if it reaches zero. Of course this free game is only for those with a Nintendo Online subscription. So.. not free. Or is it?

So was it any good?
Yes, for a quick run or two. Let’s go back to what endurance aspect. Most players drop out really quick (like pathetically quick) even while the easier levels are being queued up. It’s not easy to understand how the levels are served at first so let me briefly explain. Before a match starts you can choose a level to play, though you will only have 1-1 at first. You’ll have more to add to your ‘vote’ in the item pool after you clear a level at least once. From then the levels are coming up in a pattern. Warp zones let you skip around just a bit. Realistically you primarily played either really early or really late levels. Few in between. I swear the athletic levels were the bane of my existence assuming I didn't have an item!

The verdict:
When the game was active I won a few times and if not that, placed top three no issue. That’s disconcerting when I’m not particularly skilled. That was always my issue. The premise of the game, thirty-five players playing SMB1? It never happened. Within a minute or two every match is basically between maybe five or so decent players while everyone else has already died in 1-1 or 1-2. It came down to not making dumb mistakes, not getting stuck in the harder levels towards the end, having enough coins to spam your roulette if you need, and defeating multiples when there’s a horde of bad guys at you. That last point especially after they altered the timer to be more aggressive. There were unlocks and levels in the game but it literally does not matter now, so I won’t even give it its own section... Anyway, happy 35 anniversary, Mario!


We pulled another one on ya!

What, another effect?: The Super Paper Mario Effect

It is: When a previously maligned entry is viewed in a more positive light later because subsequent entries stay even further or are worse in some other way.

I think of Super Paper Mario first because it didn't love it right away. It was one of my earliest Wii games and I sold it off the first time, only repurchasing and beating it a few years later. I wasn’t sold on the real time combat, the non-Mushroom Kingdom settings, some of the scenarios, the lack of traditional partners, the way the four main characters were teased but hardly utilized due to game structure, etc. Nowadays I appreciate a lot of the smaller touches still included, elements to be swept away in the later 'modern' Paper Mario. Please read this for more insight on that: Why Super Paper Mario is a 'true' Paper Mario.

The crux of this effect is reevaluating an entry with a new lens, seeing clearly elements taken for granted, like a reverse nostalgia goggles. Like the murderous Snifits in modern Paper Mario- they just keep getting away with it!

Alternate example - Mario Party 8: Chastised for motion control over reliance and it is true, even in menus when you’d think buttons would be okay, but it’s the last classic example of Mario party. It does forgo the wonderful orbs for simplistic candies which is a downside and it does retread some familiar ground board design wise, but it does new things too and has plenty of extras like a Mario Party should. Now I don’t like the host as much as previous ones, and some minigames are a miss, but some a hit too. Anyway, per the effect, when Mario Party 9 ripped the rug away it, MP8 got 'nostalgic' all a sudden. Funny how that works.

Why did we actually hate Mario Party 9?

Toad pointing out the mini-star issue

Yes and that's the issue. (source:SpamEnjoyer2007 mod)

We're going back to our boomaster-amia tumblr blog roots and copying here a small rant I made on a forum.

MEY3: I know it’s an old argument, but making there be one collectable and limiting items to dice blocks instead of the tiered items/coins/stars was unambiguously to place everyone on a similar level so that it’s more difficult for a great player to pull too far ahead yet easy for a lesser skilled player to catch up.

Yes skill helps in mini games, but this game rewards everyone for participating so taking first will still mean that the others are gaining mini stars. This game also gives bonuses for being somewhere at the right time, aka Captain bonuses. Because of the car, there is very little strategic board control or routing aside from predetermined forks that usually still involve a luck element. No shops, so you can’t even control your special die blocks unless they fall in your lap or you play a board event.

tl;dr. It’s meant to give four players who may or may not be familiar with Mario Party a quick little romp and nothing deeper aside from your favorite mini games. Every other design element reflects this.

Koopaling family

-And we've chosen violence!

Why did the Koopalings disappear and have such a rebound? *Corrected*

Simple, after not needing them for the N64 era or really the Gamecube one (with a strange exception), in the Wii era, Nintendo reevaluated their back catalog and realized that the seven Koopalings were ‘main series’ characters. (Difference touched on in this character tier list.) Thus they could use them in series like NSMB and beyond, like RPG series and spin offs like Mario Kart without creating new OCs or them being generic species (though they did include more of those soon enough, alas different topic also brush in that tier list article)

Notice that to complete this objective Nintendo doesn’t need for them to have any close relation to Bowser and in fact, despite being against this when younger, I understand it now. See, when Junior was created (during a drought of koopaling activity) it was easier to explain away how he’s the son of Bowser. In Sunshine they poke fun at this with the Momma Peach thing. It’s a bigger more distracting question to have eight children of Bowser with no mother in sight. Since from a Japanese standpoint they weren’t meant to be his kids, that was rather a translation liberty taken, much like their names and the titles of many more 80s Mario enemies, it was simpler for Nintendo to officially distance them from the family affair. This severing makes them technically more flexible to use as well. I can't emphasize enough that, outside the most basic descriptions of their personalities, our general characterization of the koopalings are usually from fanon and outside media. Technically the age order isn’t set aside from Larry and Ludwig. Their order of fortresses? Again not set! We get into that in this article on Mario words:here.

Correction: Yes they WERE Bowser's kids in Japan from the start too. Wires crossed in my head and I was thinking of their names having an American source. This makes it another case of flip-flopping.

Amiibo Was a Fantastic Ideal for Nintendo… And…

collect them all

-Collect them all!

Amiibos were collectible figures of decent quality, at least usually, released in a staggered ‘wave’ fashion for a particular game or in general. There are at least a whopping 229, and that’s still not counting the extras. Besides looking cool, they had some sort of functionality in games, some doing something really cool with it, like having the figure store data (like a memory card, an old-school gaming relic when you think about it), but others less excitingly just gave you crap. All amiibos were On-Disc DLC in actuality, just allowing access to some sort of data that was always there.

Was that ever a big deal? Sorta. Scalping was pretty rampant during that time as you’d expect, and plenty of other- excuse my French- unnecessary spergery over this stuff. Either way, it printed money for Nintendo. I collect games, not figures, so having all that they can offer was never on the table. I’m not against it being an ‘optional’ (except not really) fun thing to collect of your favorite characters and whatevers, but I am on principle against paywalling content that’s already on your disc. Just one of the curses of modern gaming I suppose.

Worst implementation ever? (at least that I’ve personally witnessed): Scan an amiibo to control a character that’s already in the game?? And for every turn too?? And during a mode mocking you by allowing ‘classic’ play??? Screw that game! (Mario Party 10)

I can defend any Mario game! - a younger, even more dumber me


Ugh. You see me there? Huh?? You see my buddy too? Trying to make this work? We were struggling 2012-2017 and I want reparations. (And yes I can make that joke)

Indeed there was a time when I thought I felt like that, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek way about a ‘defense’ I could scrape up for every Mario game out there. Were they all my favorites? No. Were they all good games? No. By defend, I mostly meant pointing out something odd or interesting about it. This relates to some of my first Mario Oddities. Were those educational games something I wanted to play often? Of course not, but they are unique from a historical context as a Mario fan.

So what happened? The Nintendo WiiU honeymoon wore off, and they dropped the ball considering the foundation money printing Wii laid. The system was sleek enough, just ultra derivative, unoriginal, and unsexy with the gamepad that didn’t allow you to do the thing you’d think it would. I remember in high school how classmates thought you could take the gamepad to school and play it. Well.. no. You couldn’t.

To give credit, its functionality could be neat in some games, but plenty of others used to primarily replicate the TV screen except with a touch screen. Battery life could be a problem, you couldn’t fully use the console without it, and the motion controls didn’t go away either. The gamepad had it (smoothly in my experience, but still) and Wiimotes were still around, even if they tried to emphasize using Pro Classic Controllers and such. The Wii Channels were also there, but also a fun if ill-fated MiiVerse sorta focused menu. It felt like a hodgepodge. It might be one of those things where you had to be there. In 2012 I was the target audience exactly as a late teen, yet I was able to easily wait until a Splatoon/ Super Smash Bros bundle to finally get one. Let’s stop ranting and get to the Mario games.

They aren’t all trash and some are good as I’ll get into, but the amount pales considerably when you see the analysis. Some of the soul had left, rather abruptly from the previous era. Wii era games had some missteps in places, even hints of stormy weather to come (See: Super Mario Galaxy effect), yet all of their hearts were into the games being put out. For the WiiU however, some spin-offs fell off the planet or gave us the most paltry entry ever. Why did the Switch come along quietly sweep the WiiU under the rug by rereleasing old WiiU games? That the official reason is that Nintendo knew a lot of people never bothered with the WiiU says it all!

What's missing? An original 3D Mario game. No 3D World does not count. I did like it, but besides being a derivative of a 3DS game, it has its roots in 2D Mario platforming where levels have a start and an end and a time limit etc. There was no 64/ Sunshine/ Galaxy for the WiiU era. No Mario Golf. Do you want to know what sold me solidly on the Switch? Mario Odyssey coming out. All of those ports early on was jading me, but when they did that it showed me that 'yes they want to make original games again', and the Switch has continued to be on my better side. Back to the topic, we had no WiiU Mario Strikers. Mario Baseball/Sluggers. Sigh. No I didn’t count eShop stuff, but if I did it wouldn’t be that much more.