Yesterday I posted this on my Twitter account (@retroreactiv8):
When I saw 20+ pages devoted to Mario in this month’s @RetroGamer_Mag I thought WTF? Now I’ve read it I finally get the plumber’s appeal!
Now, I know that it’s heresy to say so, but Mario games have just never appealed to me. I’ve only ever played two of them (three if you count Donkey Kong). I’ve played the original SNES game and Super Mario Sunshine. My only other exposure to Mario, Luigi, Bowser et al is pummelling them to bits as Donkey Kong in Super Smash Brothers Melee on the GameCube or leaving them for dust in Mario Kart on the DS, and they are not true Mario games.
But back to the two games I have played. I experienced the original a fair while after its release and thought it was a perfectly fun game, but fairly standard. It seemed to me that there were plenty of other games on other platforms that offered very similar gameplay. Of course, with hindsight, I recognise that most of these other titles were copying the successful Mario formula, but at the time I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.
Then there was the move to 3D with Super Mario Sunshine, a game that received rave reviews at the time, and still does. Again, I didn’t get it. It always felt a little too fiddly, plagued with camera angle issues that made for a frustrating experience and I remember the sense of disappointment I felt with it. I certainly never came close to completing it. Not because I lacked the skill (although I probably did!), but because the game didn’t pull me in and make me want to play it to a finish. As such, no matter how much people raved over later titles like Super Mario Galaxy, I’ve never considered buying them.
Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a Nintendo fanboy (my first Nintendo machines were a Wii and DS bought around 2008), so I’ve not bought into the Mario culture? But I was never a Sega fanboy either – I’ve never owned a Sega console, Yet I get the appeal of Sonic. It’s odd, because I enjoy platform games, yet I’ve never been tempted by what most gamers regard as the genre-defining franchise.
So, back to that Retro Gamer article. As I said in my tweet, having read it I can understand why people like Mario so much. I get the fact that the level design and attention to detail is superb; I get the fact that people like the characters; I get the fact that the games have almost endless replay value with so many secrets and hidden levels to uncover. Thanks to the article, I understand the passion people feel for the franchise… and yet I still only understand on an intellectual level, because when it comes down to it, I’m still not tempted to go off and try them for myself.
Am I deficient in some way as a gamer? Should I hang up my controller in shame or are there other people who feel like this? Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate the guy. I’m glad that (like Pacman) he’s transcended his original media and become recognisable outside of his gaming context. I just can’t work up any passion for his games, even after Retro Gamer devoted so much space to him.
So, is it just me…?