Some more thoughts on Shigeru Miyamoto and Mario

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Some more thoughts on Shigeru Miyamoto & Mario

Yes folks I thought I do a little sequel to this article I did in late 2013 that you can read right here at...…

What can I say now that I did not before? Well actually plenty, for starters there is the Paper Mario series that is nowadays seen as a cautionary tale of how not to do Damage Control. To make a long story short the controversy regarding Super Paper Mario was "WAH! TOO MUCH STORY!" to Paper Mario Sticker Star to "WAH! THERE IS BARELY ANY STORY!". (And the fact that the Paper Mario was more leaning towards the latter game is not helping.) Before Sticker Star was released it was said that it would be a "return to form" for the series as turn-based RPG again getting fan expectations up but severely dashed them when both the gameplay and the story got overly simplified. While Super Paper Mario got a rather divisive reception for being a Platformer with RPG elements and even more plot focus than the first two games. But thanks to Sticker Star's more controversial design Super Paper Mario got a lot more respect and is often considered to be one of the finer games in the series. (In which some would claim that its the last good game in the series.) In which the real issue for Sticker Star is that it was the catalyst for how Shigeru Miyamoto is no longer a "Sacred Cow" in the Video Game industry. In the 2010s there was an increasing amount of folks who angrily accuse Shigeru Miyamoto of being an old-fashioned stiff who forces his antiquated ways on others and should at best let him retire to at worst fire him for his archaic ways. Namely on how Shigeru Miyamoto got a lot of controversy for trying to force Intelligent Systems to strip down the Paper Mario games because that series had too much story.

But is it how it truly happened? While yes Miyamoyo did make some suggestions such as tone down the story and focus more on characters from the main series than make new ones. (Which the latter is not a bad idea at all really as there are plenty of characters from the main series that could go for some more screen-time.) But over the past few years fans argued whether if Miyamoto was merely giving suggestions to the staff for Sticker Star or that suggestions were actually orders since its a bad idea to go against someone prominent like Miyamoto. (But then again there have been conflicting reports on how much control Miyamoto has & enforces regarding Nintendo.) But here is some evidence that it is more of the former than the latter namely how Sticker Star was the 1st game where Miyamoto had very little involvement in. Yes Shigeru Miyamoto was one of the producers for the 1st two Paper Mario games and was a Supervisor in Super Paper Mario but in Sticker Star he doesn't even have that. Though also keep in mind it was Sticker Star when the game series had a new Director as Ryota Kawade was the Director of the 1st 3 Paper Mario games but ever since Sticker Star he was replaced by Naohiko Aoyama & Taro Kudo. (The Latter also wrote Sticker Star & Color Splash.) So in other words the real reason why the Paper Mario series is in its new & rather controversial direction is because of the new talent that is taking over the series.

Also there is the New Super Mario Bros series where it has been deemed to be one of the biggest examples of stagnancy to the Mario series or to be more precise it is where we kept hearing cries of "Rehash!" towards the Mario games. However that wasn't so true at first. The original New Super Mario Bros for the DS was actually considered to be unique because it was a new Mario platformer and it was 2.5D which was novel at the time and New Super Mario Bros. Wii achieved a lot of praise for how it was a Mario Platformer that had Multiplayer. (Though the fact that it was just 2 Toads along with Mario & Luigi was a bit divisive.) It wasn't until the 3DS and Wii U era where the NSMB series was really starting to be seen as rehashes with minimal differences comparing it to game series such as Call of Duty & Assassin's Creed. Granted unlike those series' they only made 1 game per console for the previous 2 console gens but due to how they are seen as so derivative along with other certain Mario games at the time it only made a moderate at best amount of difference. However there is no sign of the NSMB series on the Switch, and due to the popularity of the game Mario Maker on the Wii U & 3DS it is highly speculated that thanks to the Mario Maker games Nintendo doesn't really need the NSMB series anymore. Oh yes and one of the reasons why the NSMB games got a bit divisive was that it started the debate of is the "Mario saves Princess Peach from Bowser in the Mushroom Kingdom" plot getting tired and should be retired. Or should people realize that the Mario series is suppose to be minimal in plot and doing otherwise would just be wrong. Namely how people have defended the NSMB series by saying that Nintendo is upholding the Grandfather Clause and that the "Mario Saves Peach from Bowser in Mushroom Kingdom" is what the series was always like. Except that is not really true, how so you ask? Simple, take a look at all the Mario Platformers during the NES, SNES & Game Boy eras. Notice on how only 2 of the Main Series games were set in the Mushroom Kingdom where Bowser was the Big Bad namely Super Mario Bros. 1 and 3. (Well 3 if you count the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 A.K.A Super Mario The Lost Levels). Let us take a look at the others and they had some slight to substantial differences in setting.

US Super Mario Bros 2- Mario & Luigi along with Toad & Peach fight Wart & his forces to save Sarasaland
Super Mario World 1- Mario must save Peach from Bowser in the Dinosaur Kingdom
Super Mario World 2, Yoshi's Island- Baby Mario rides Yoshi in Dinosaur Kingdom to fight Kid Bowser's forces to get Baby Mario home.
Super Mario Land 1- Mario must save Daisy from Tatanga in Sarasaland.
Super Mario Land 2- Mario must gather 6 Golden Coins to get back his private castle from Wario.

Heck in Super Mario Bros 3 expanded things by having multiple lands in the Mushroom Kingdom that have their own Monarchs and of course the Koopalings.  So in other words the Mario games had a bit more variety to them at the time. It wasn't until the N64 era came in which the Mario franchise was starting to get a bit more & more centered in the Mushroom Kingdom aside from the RPGs and the 3-D Platformers of course.

For years many of us love to think that all of the stories & settings of these big Multi-Media franchises are all done by one individual hence the Creator Worship, but Mario is a fine example of how that can often be not true at all. So while Shigeru Miyamoto is known as the creator of Mario he has done very little of the story, heck Mario's own name wasn't Miyamoto's idea. (Miyamoto originally was going with names such as Mr. Video & Ossan which the latter is the Japanese term for Middle-aged Man. While Nintendo of America originally called Mario Jumpman when Donkey Kong first came in the US but it wasn't long until they decided to give him the name Mario to name him after NOA's Italian Landlord Mario Segale.) In fact technically Miyamoto was not the true creator of the Super Mario Bros series. Okay before anyone gets upset yes I am fully aware that yes Miyamoto was indeed the Director of the original Super Mario Bros game. However it was actually the Assistant Director of the game Takashi Tezuka (who among other things was the original writer of the Legend of Zelda series) who had the idea of Mario being the star. Miyamoto originally created a little 16x32 square as a placeholder but Tezuka had the idea of using Mario since the game Mario Bros. was rather successful in which Miyamoto agreed to it. There are some other issues such as how in Super Mario Bros. 1 in the original Japanese Box Art from Shigeru Miyamoto, Peach looked more like a little girl. But in US Super Mario Bros 2 she was looking more like a young woman of Teenage to Young Adult Age. This was because of Yoichi Kotabe, former animator for TOEi and artist for Nintendo he was the one behind the current looks for Peach since US SMB 2 & Bowser since SMB 3. (Though amusingly enough when Miyamoto designed Bowser in Super Mario Bros 1 he originally wanted to make Bowser look more like an Ox in homage to the Ox King in the 1960 anime film Saiyuki/Alakazam the Great. But Bowser's current appearance was done by Yoichi Kotabe who was actually one of the original animators from that aforementioned movie.) But still while SMB 1 is iconic but it was US SMB 2 and SMB 3 were the games that gave us the current looks of Peach, Bowser & Luigi. (Before US SMB 2 Luigi was basically a Palette Swap of Mario.)

One thing to keep in mind is that Nintendo has made the Mario franchise into an open book in which various different folks have made their own stories for the series. Oh sure there is the obvious cases such as the TV Shows, Movies, Comics, Manga etc. But this is also true for the games themselves such as Intelligent Systems for the Paper Mario series and AlphaDream for the Mario & Luigi series. But one of the earlier cases of this was when RARE made the Donkey Kong Country series and greatly expanded on Donkey Kong's story. For starters RARE made their fair share of original characters such as Diddy Kong (who was originally going to be DK Jr. but Nintendo thought he looked too different so RARE deemed him to be a new character). Also in the DK Country series it was revealed that that the current DK is DK Jr. all grown up and that the crotchety old monkey Cranky Kong is the original DK who got old. Though it has been said that as far as Nintendo is concerned the "Legacy Character" only applies to Donkey Kong (and Legend of Zelda) and not Mario (despite how some Fan Theorists wish otherwise). Needless to say RARE substantially changed Donkey Kong and his story as RARE's work on the Donkey Kong Country was for the most part rather renowned. But when RARE severed their ties with Nintendo and got purchased by Microsoft in 2002 it caused some problems for Nintendo. Quite frankly if Nintendo wanted to they could've just retconned everything from Donkey Kong Country out of existence since Nintendo had nothing to do with the DKC series' storyline. But that probably would not be a good idea for Nintendo since the DKC series was not only popular in the US but it was quite popular in Japan as well. So in other words Nintendo was kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place until Retro Studios start the series back up again in 2010.

What does this have to do with Shigeru Miyamoto you ask? In 1994 there were two Donkey Kong games, Donkey Kong Country for the SNES and Donkey Kong for the Game Boy. (In which the latter was a highly expanded remake of the original game and the original game advertised for being enhanced by the SNES peripheral the Super Game Boy.) While both games were quite renowned and became Critical Successes but DK Country was the bigger financial hit that became the new direction for the DK franchise. But one thing to keep in mind was that those 2 games Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong '94 Miyamoto was more involved with the latter. There was also this fairly infamous quote...

"Donkey Kong Country proves that players will put up with mediocre gameplay as long as the art is good."

This supposedly came from a Electronic Games magazine back in the mid-90s in which many claim this quote was a overblown hoax or a mistranslation. (While some speculate that maybe the Magazine tried to make Miyamoto look meaner to make their Magazine sell. In other words lot of people don't want to believe that Miyamoto would ever be mean like this and/or would think that Miyamoto would get in a lot of trouble with Nintendo if he did actually say this.) But in 2010, Miyamoto did try to set the record straight and say that he never had any hate for the DKC series at all and had a good rapport with Tim Stamper. (In which keep in mind he was one of the reasons why Retro Studios got to revive the DKC series that year.) While some did speculate that Miyamoto was a bit sore at the time that RARE's take on the Donkey Kong series massively overshadowed his own in popularity and the series' future. But in actuality the reason behind this quote was because Nintendo originally wanted the Yoshi's Island games be pre-rendered 3-D like the Donkey Kong Country series but Miyamoto was strongly against it and wanted them to be flat out 2-D. (While nowadays Miyamoto has a lot more clout and authority in Nintendo in which some have claimed that he has abused said power more than once. But that was not always the case as during the 90s there have been times where Miyamoto struggled to get the higher-ups at the company to listen to him. Besides as for Donkey Kong '94 it did technically get a follow-up/Spiritual Successor with the Mario Vs. Donkey Kong series that came out about a decade later.)

Still Shigeru Miyamoto is but an example of the issues of "Creator Worship" regarding Franchises namely you get all the praise for all the great things about the franchise (even the aspects that other people did). But on the other hand you can also be a scapegoat and get the blame for everything horrible about the franchise regardless of whether if its your fault or not. So in other words while Shigeru Miyamoto is a prominent man in the Video Game Industry and understandably so but he was not the only designer in Nintendo and there are many other designers in Nintendo who deserve credit for Nintendo's success over the years. So in other words Miyamoto is simply a man not a God. Basically while Miyamoto maybe more of a Supervisor in Nintendo's games nowadays but during his prime he was primarily a Gameplay Designer first, Artist & Character Designer Second and his work as a Writer is a distant third. (In which its been said that of all the franchises Miyamoto created, Pikmin is the one franchise where he is significantly involved with the story.) Still even within the games themselves the stories for franchises such as Mario & Legend of Zelda have been penned by various different writers and while Miyamoto may've created these franchises but that doesn't mean he is always the man to ask about them. Nowadays Shigeru Miyamoto is seen as a Japanese Stan Lee when it comes to Video Games in both good and in some cases not-so good ways. Still while Miyamoto may've become a bit more divisive in the 2010s but when it comes to Japanese Game Designers he is still genuinely renowned & respected. Well if anything else more respected than the likes of Yoshio Sakamoto (Metroid) and Keiji Inafune (Mega Man). So don't get me wrong Miyamoto does indeed have a strong legacy in Video Game History but he is just simply one of the reasons why Nintendo has a strong history over the years.  
Well Ladies & Gents a while ago (namely November of 2013) I did a little article on Shigeru Miyamoto on the Mario franchise but I thought I do the sequel where I take another look namely an updated and expanded look at Shigeru Miyamoto and his legacy & influence in franchises such as Mario. (Both good & not-so good admittedly.)  
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WegraMan's avatar
I feel like Odyssey was proof that the series is far from being repetitive. Its just they uaually hold out on these ideas until they make a big 3D platformer