Super Mario, what future awaits you? - The Lakitu Sachet

Super Mario, what future awaits you? - The Lakitu Sachet

Super Mario

To argue that Super Mario is a brand in crisis would be insane. The best-selling game for Nintendo Switch is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, with more than 45 million units; Super Mario Odyssey, released in 2017 and with a Metacritic average of 97, is the most lucrative three-dimensional episode, with around 24 million copies. Overall, Super Mario is the most successful series in the entire history of video games, with 760 million units placed (from the beginning to today, of course).

And yet, putting Mario Kart aside for a moment , which is essentially a series apart, it is clear that over the years things have changed quite a bit for the plumber. He is still one of the best known icons in the world of video games, but the times of Mario Mania at the turn of the 80s and 90s are far away. The reasons are many; among all there is the progressive decline of the platform genre. A genre that, in the mid-1980s, was essentially the most important - and best-selling - of all. A genre that, thanks to Super Mario, had managed to shape even the dawn of the three-dimensional world ... but which is now almost non-existent, apart from hydraulic. Super Mario has kept his crown steadfast and unquestioned, but the realm has shrunk more and more.

There isn't a single saga that in the last fifteen years has had such high marks and, at the same time, has been so little rewarded in general terms. The only Super Mario that could have aspired to game of the year, from Super Mario 64 onwards (we're talking about 1996), was Super Mario Odyssey; which, however, was largely overshadowed by another Nintendo game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Maybe Super Mario Odyssey was not perfect, but by many it is still considered a masterpiece: it is possible to do better, but it is not easy. It's not easy at all: just think that no three-dimensional platformer has come close to the quality of the Nintendo game in recent years. For a long time, Super Mario was at the top of the industry: it was often the best-selling game and, at the same time, also one of the most influential. Super Mario Bros. has influenced the direction of all two-dimensional action games, and Super Mario 64 has achieved the same in three-dimensional. While Super Mario Odyssey is exceptional, no one has taken it as a reference. Exactly the opposite happened to Breath of the Wild.

Sales on Nintendo platforms

Super Mario Odyssey: The promotional trailer for the 2017 Super Mario Odyssey game, as we said, is the best-selling three-dimensional chapter; it has been very successful overall, considering it will likely exceed 25 million units. Despite this, it is clear that the series has suffered a progressive commercial decline since its debut. Among the top five most successful titles for the NES are three episodes of the saga. On top is Super Mario Bros., with around 40 million units (out of just over 60 million consoles placed!). In third place Super Mario Bros. 3, with 18 million; to the fifth Super Mario Bros. 2, with nearly eight million. SNES in total has sold nearly 50 million copies, and the first two luckiest games for the console are still two chapters of the plumber. In first place Super Mario World, with about twenty million; to the second Super Mario All-Stars, with just over 10. An exceptional result, but the percentage of buyers had already dropped below 50%. Nintendo 64 has sold around 33 million units, with Super Mario still above all others, with nearly twelve million copies.

Analyzing the GameCube era is difficult, because it was an unfortunate platform, and it has hosted the least successful "main" Super Mario, Super Mario Sunshine. The console has sold 22 million copies, and Super Mario Sunshine only 6 million, the third most successful title for the system (surpassed, for the first time, by the "spin-off" Mario Kart). Wii sold more than 100 million, but Super Mario Galaxy (best-seller) was only ninth, with nearly thirteen million DVDs sold; New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the first two-dimensional title in years, has outclassed it with more than 30 million copies, however, for the first time, it was off the podium: only fourth among the platform's best sellers. Wii U is unreliable, having only placed 13.5 million units; here Super Mario 3D World is the second luckiest game, with nearly 6 million, and New Super Mario Bros. U the third, with essentially the same amount.

Super Mario Odyssey: the best polygonal Mario seen in a video game Nintendo Switch has already exceeded 110 million units and many Nintendo historical series have reached their apical moment right here - on a commercial level: how we have already said, this fate has also touched the three-dimensional branch of Super Mario. However, at 24 million, Super Mario Odyssey is only the sixth best-selling game for the platform. For the first time, the plumber has been surpassed by The Legend of Zelda, as well as by Pokémon, Animal Crossing, Super Smash Bros. and (as usual, now) by Mario Kart. Super Mario is now one of many: "only" 20% (approximately) of Switch users have also purchased his latest adventure.

What can Nintendo do?

Super Mario Odyssey : Will the new game in the series be three-dimensional or two-dimensional? There are two truths, only in apparent contradiction to each other. Super Mario continues to be one of the most successful series in the industry, both in commercial and critical terms; at the same time, it is a long way from exerting the influence it once had, both on Nintendo consoles and on the industry in general. We repeat: by Super Mario in this article we mean the main series in the strict sense, not Mario Kart or other spin-offs. We're not here to suggest what direction Nintendo might take, that would be arrogant; precisely because, as we said, the series is far from bad. It is not, to be clear, in the position in which The Legend of Zelda was in 2011, when it was evident that something had to change; at that moment the open world was taking off as the dominant setting of the industry, and Nintendo had lost sight of it for too long: it was not a question of inventing something, but of bringing the brand back to its rightful place. This is not the case with Super Mario; aside from Super Mario Sunshine, team Mario hardly missed a beat. It is precisely the genre of belonging that has lost its charm.

Super Mario Bros. - The Movie: A new beginning for the plumber? The film, arriving on April 6, is a fundamental project for the Japanese company. For investments, for future opportunities, for Super Mario himself. The plumber will have an out-of-game visibility that he hasn't had in a long, long time; as we had assumed in the past, it would be absurd if Nintendo didn't have a game in store to accompany its launch. And the fact that the Super Mario team has been silent since 2017 is very telling; in the past there was an episode of the series every three years, in December 2022 instead there will be five without publications. There are rumors of a two-dimensional game with a new graphic style; whatever it is, we are sure that the next one will be a crucial chapter for the future of the series. The objectives are two: to return to being one of the most influential series in the industry, and also one of the best-selling. On the occasion of the feature film, it would be essential to reach at least one.

Our feeling, given the Switch installed base, is that it is easier to aim for the commercial result: and in this sense, perhaps the two-dimensional branch is more suitable. But it would also be great if a new three-dimensional chapter comes out, with a yearning to reach both of them. We could be wrong, but we believe that Koizumi didn't really like being overwhelmed by The Legend of Zelda: many expect 2023 to become the year of Tears of the Kingdom ... what if it was Super Mario? br>
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