If there is one area in which Mario has dominated on Wii, it's the Virtual Console. Since its onset, beloved Mario games have helped to establish Nintendo's digital distribution service, outselling the vast majority of classic games now available. The still-standing popularity of yesterday's Mario is a testament to his impact on the industry, and a reminder that cutting-edge graphics and waggle controls aren't everything.
We lost count of how many times we have paid for Super Mario Bros. 3. Thankfully, our own David Hinkle returns each week to advise us on how to spend our Nintendo points in VC Monday Madness.
2D or not 2D? Err...why answer that question when you can have 2D and 3D in the same game? And no, we're not talking about that 2.5D stuff Donkey Kong Country helped popularize. Super Paper Mario is memorable for its seamless transitions of perspective and brilliant marriage of platforming and RPG elements. Plus, playing as Bowser in a non-sports game is pretty amazing.
While it's true that Mario Party 8 could be considered just another inconsequential entry in a series that has been running too long (which is sort of true), the game does offer some refreshing twists that wouldn't be possible without the Wii Remote. While not the biggest leap forward, we welcome a good Mario Party now and then.
Charged offered an effective sequel to Mario's soccer outing on Gamecube as well as a glimmer of hope for a better-rounded Nintendo Wi-Fi experience. A four player online mode makes for some fierce competition and a game you can play again and again, provided other people want to play, too. Which, why wouldn't they?
As someone who grew up when Mario and Sonic were rarely seen on the same page, this blogger still finds it odd to see them starring in the same game. Mario & Sonic, however, despite being essentially a sports mini-game compilation, has sold over 5 million DS & Wii copies combined. Like it or not, developer Sega struck a massive chord with this release.
We sort of wonder whether this game was better as an idea than what has been packaged for store shelves, but you can't argue with a rich multiplayer and a decent online rankings system.
We all know what this one signifies: A first-party Mario adventure always seems to reaffirm Mario's status as the king of platforming, and it reassures gamers that Nintendo "still cares" about their core audience. Galaxy was a much needed addition to the series in the current generation of gaming, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Interesting physics, well-balanced challenges and a five-star soundtrack come together with the simple genius of Mario gameplay to form what is unanimously proclaimed the strongest of the Mario canon on Wii.
Not merely the latest, greatest iteration in what is the most popular Mario spinoff series, Mario Kart Wii also boasts one of the most robust online experiences on a Nintendo platform to date. Ghost-supported leader boards, fast opponent matching and continuing bi-monthly tournaments raise the bar for the free Wi-Fi service, and the single-player mode shines above most previous Mario Kart games to boot.
Compared to Sony's Playstation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live, WiiWare is still a diapered infant learning to walk. As an avenue for the less-marketable and the experimental, WiiWare offers some compelling alternatives to store shelves, but first-party support will be critical in bringing the service close to its competition. Dr. Mario is one such remedy. Combining recognizable gameplay and a clean interface in a worthy revival of this classic puzzler, Dr. Mario brings the medicine WiiWare needed. Well, the first dosage, anyway.
Sluggers, while mostly an upgrade to Gamecube's Mario Superstar Baseball still brings to the table a strong ballpark experience, and we especially celebrate its variety of playable characters. Check out a few of our favorite batters here.
Counting these and certain other appearances Mario has made, there is no question of his influence over the last two years since Wii was released. Although a trend of casual gaming remains in full bloom, even to the extent of trespassing into the Mushroom Kingdom, we take comfort in the fact that Mario is still very much what he has always been.
Keeping in mind statements from Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime that Nintendo EAD is hard at work on the next big games, we wonder if they will see the light of day in Wii's lifetime, or if the true successor to Galaxy will have to wait until the next generation. What do you think?