Video by RelaxAlax on the "Bland Era" of Mario

Xgouki

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YouTuber RelaxAlax did a video explaining how he found the Wii U/3DS era of Mario games to be bland (if not outright "bad") compared to the rest of the series, and toned down for a younger/more casual audience.


Thoughts? I remember not being fond of this era at all, which made it sting even more when I was amiibo hunting and the core Mario cast were the only ones you could ever find anywhere (and it made me more sensitized to how much Nintendo were marketing the franchise compared to others). Odyssey redeemed the Mario franchise for me and went even further beyond (the trailer even made me cry since it felt like the franchise was getting its heart back), but I still have painful stinging memories of losing my patience for Mario back in those days.
 

Rosalina Swimwear

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I actually agree. I blame New Super Mario Bros. Its success at rehashing the old games with really little innovation has had most of the games in slump of creativity since. Granted I haven’t played Odyssey, so I can’t comment on it.

I miss the N64, and Gamecube era when risks were taken like Paper Mario 64, Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and MK Double Dash.
 

Striker Mario

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Uh, here's a bit of mind vomit from me.

Well I enjoyed 3D Land way more than Galaxy 2 for starters, and I'd really rather play it over Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World if we're being honest, even if the 3D aspect of things can be so grating (such as aiming fireballs or punishing you hard for missing jumps you can't judge distance of because you can't move the camera). There is a bit of reliance on nostalgia pandering, but nostalgic throwbacks have been commonplace in the series for a while. I did criticize several Mario platformers for being overreliant on it.

Mario Kart 7 wasn't as content filled as Mario Kart Wii I suppose but it did introduce some cool things like underwater and gliding. Granted, they didn't change up the gameplay too much, so I was left wanting more from those, but they also introduced interchangeable kart parts, and that's really nice, if only they had more parts to choose from. Mario Kart 7 also lacked a VS mode, which is sore, but it's not like Mario Kart games are exactly content rich in the single player department (I didn't like Mission Mode in Mario Kart DS but it should've been a first step into having Mario Kart step up its content in comparison to kart-style racers like Blur, Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, Team Sonic Racing, Diddy Kong Racing(!!), and more) nor has it ever been super customizable unlike a painful bunch of other racers, and I've been griping about this for years.


Hell, Mario Kart Tour isn't even around this era. It's during supposedly Mario's "high" after Super Mario Odyssey.

If I had to make a case for a "bland era" of Mario I'd start at Galaxy 2 to be honest, where it began the idea of recycling your games for your mainline content while doing a little too much nostalgia pandering. People give it a free pass, but really, it's just Galaxy with a 2. Mario Sports Mix DID come after Galaxy 2, though, and that was great, with just its roster I disliked.

The video ripped on Dark Moon, but while Dark Moon did lose out on the atmosphere of the first, it's a really good second entry in the series and I'd consider it superior over the first in spite of the worse set-up (they did dial back on the whole brother rescue thing, which was kind of lame, but since it's a Mario story, that doesn't matter) due to the different mansions you can explore, the better collection/exploration aspect of the thing, the better boss fights, the Boo hunting being better, the upgrades, etc, oh and the Scarescraper thing.

The video also really disliked World Tour and Mario Tennis Open and even compared Aces favorably to World Tour (I disagree). Again, probably not as complete of an experience I've liked from Power Tennis or Toadstool Tour, but they're still solid entries in the series and I still suggest people to check it out. Heck, Tennis Open has its own perks, such as Chance Shots not being this time-stopping nightmare Power Shots have a tendency of being, and it still had actual match length and character vs CPU matchup records and stuff, all that good stuff Power Tennis had too, but it kind of fell short because it lacked some minigames I guess (but seriously what happened to item battles, and gimmick courts are sorely missed) and maybe it was a paint by the numbers tennis game. I suppose at the time, Mario Tennis Open, I viewed as inferior to Power Tennis, but Mario Tennis Aces made it look really good in comparison.

There's no mention of Ultra Smash, and boy, that's a big omission since it's a horrible Mario Tennis game.

World Tour is really good. I mostly griped about the Castle Club mode which is just a single player mode where you just play a Mario game to not play as Mario characters. It always sucks. But beyond this, it actually has steps up above Toadstool Tour such as better courses and a pretty good roster, and the post-hole animations were seriously top notch. It did miss out on the taunts and trophy animations, and I prefer Toadstool Tour's multiplayer (team golf, w00t), but it's not a "meh" entry in Mario Golf. Certainly, Super Rush made World Tour look amazing.

There's mention of the two Mario Party games, but while Island Tour was met with derision, people were generally more enthusiastic about Star Rush. I didn't enjoy the idea of not being able to use Mario and friends barring amiibo, and I'm not really hot on the minigame selection (too many seem to require some rapid memorization skills which I'm never any good at, hence I hate games like Messy Memory and The Beat Goes On, but I really enjoyed Toad Scramble (with amiibo) for what it was. That Coin side mode took the most time from me and I kinda miss playing that and screwing with Wario. Anyway Star Rush is decent. I'm also not seeing Mario Party 10, even though it's a lukewarm entry.

Sticker Star is definitely the Whomp in the room here, and I agree it's probably symbolic of that hypothetical era. But it's the same arguments I've heard already, that Nintendo abandoned "unique characters" (like a Koopa with a scarf?) and "moved away from RPGs" (does the video maker know what "RPG" is). I also consider Super Paper Mario generally worse than Sticker Star, at least in its direction (can't judge the gameplay). No mention of the Mario & Luigi games? I consider Dream Team to be a solid entry as well as Paper Jam.

I do suppose "not as great as the old" is a recurring theme here barring Luigi's Mansion 2, but I wouldn't call them bland. The Mario sports games continue their decline I think (hell I think Aces and Super Rush are more fitting of a "bland" era even if they have some nice cutscenes), but I do agree some of these entries are overshadowed by newer ones (3D Land -> 3D World, Dark Moon -> Luigi's Mansion 3, Mario Kart 7 -> Mario Kart 8; but do note ALL these examples are practically handheld-console comparisons so it might not even be fair). Mario Party has a promising upcoming game, and Super Mario Party people consider to be good if not better than Star Rush (just lacking content).

That being said, I can see a sense of impatience with Mario games and people certainly were having pretty low expectations until Odyssey came. We also had a really good entry in Luigi's Mansion 3. New Super Mario Bros. games practically stopped after this, unfortunately (I don't consider the Super Mario Maker games all that great nor are they anywhere near replacements for 2D Mario). I'm not sure what this guy's opinion on Origami King is, but I'm going to guess it's not all that positive (even though I hear it's a pretty solid entry). The Mario Sports aren't so hot (though they did sell well), and Super Mario Party I already think is around Star Rush.

Look at the games after 2017. A ton of ports from Wii U and some w/e Mario & Luigi remakes. Mario Party Top 100. An overpriced port collection that was sold for limited time only. Mario Kart Tour. Yoshi's Crafted World. There's a lot of arguably "meh" games on that lineup with some gems like Luigi's Mansion 3, Mario + Rabbids, and possibly Paper Mario Origami King and Super Mario Maker 2, mileage may vary. So honestly, I'm not sure if "bland era" has much merit even if New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Sticker Star are so cemented in people's idea of a Mario on auto-pilot looks like, especially when the video maker put Luigi's Mansion 2 on there when it mostly certainly is not "bland".
 

Koopa con Carne

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The games he discusses in the video, barring Luigi's Mansion 2, are the kind of games I would describe as perfectly serviceable but that I'd be content with experiencing once and moving on. There are better and more creative alternatives within the same series.

I'm not sure what this guy's opinion on Origami King is
He hates its guts.
 

Ultra Violet

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I don't really think there's a "bland era" because it's so incredibly broad and is all completely subjective. As my sister pointed out, we did get Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon and I strongly disagree that it's worse than the original in any capacity: I think it's just as charming, inventive, and more importantly far more fun to play through than the original (the original you can just beat in like 6 hours and it isn't as content-packed as Dark Moon). If we're also going to include sister series, we got Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Yoshi's Wooly World out of it, both pretty good contenders for their respective series's bests.
 

Xgouki

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I actually agree. I blame New Super Mario Bros. Its success at rehashing the old games with really little innovation has had most of the games in slump of creativity since. Granted I haven’t played Odyssey, so I can’t comment on it.

I miss the N64, and Gamecube era when risks were taken like Paper Mario 64, Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and MK Double Dash.
I highly recommend Odyssey, it's a return to the creative freedom and heart that culminated in Galaxy 1 and is also the most open-world Mario yet imo
 

Mcmadness

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MK Double Dash.
Not really much of a huge risk taker there. The 2 people to a kart stuff doesn't really do as much as people think it does.


I highly recommend Odyssey, it's a return to the creative freedom and heart that culminated in Galaxy 1 and is also the most open-world Mario yet imo
So were just gonna forget 3D world exists then.
 

Xgouki

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Not really much of a huge risk taker there. The 2 people to a kart stuff doesn't really do as much as people think it does.




So were just gonna forget 3D world exists then.
Right, I haven't played Bowser's Fury yet.

I've played a bit of 3D World, it's great but doesn't feel monumental and "epic" the way Odyssey does
 

Xgouki

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I can't look at the video right now but I'm gonna guess "bad battle system" (a common criticism I can understand) and "ahhhhhhh peak uncreativity like no Goomba with a mustache or magician dudes, and we got colored pencils as a boss"
He basically respects that other ppl enjoy the game and explains why it doesn't work in terms of his views on RPG mechanics so it isn't as bad as one would assume
 

Rosalina Swimwear

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Not really much of a huge risk taker there. The 2 people to a kart stuff doesn't really do as much as people think it does.




So were just gonna forget 3D world exists then.
Well it was a major change in dynamics of racing, so much so people cried for same ol’ same ol’ and we got Mario Kart Wii.
 

Mcmadness

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Well it was a major change in dynamics of racing, so much so people cried for same ol’ same ol’ and we got Mario Kart Wii.
It really wasn't a major change at all, the 2nd characters doesn't do anything beyond switch with the driver and hold items.

And switching drivers didn't amount to much as the best combinations usually had the characters at the exact same weight class.
 

Rosalina Swimwear

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It really wasn't a major change at all, the 2nd characters doesn't do anything beyond switch with the driver and hold items.

And switching drivers didn't amount to much as the best combinations usually had the characters at the exact same weight class.
It changed things in term of multiplayer. My nephew couldn’t drive karts yet, but he could ride along firing items. That allowed him and other kids to play who coukdn’t yet master driving.
 

Mcmadness

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Well I'll give you that but thats more a novelty than a major feature.
 

Striker Mario

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If you want a major team play mechanic that actually does change up racing, then something like Team Sonic Racing is a good example. I hear there's that Crash blatant Double Dash ripoff racing game with two people on a kart but dunno about that one. But Double Dash two people per kart certainly didn't change anything. But as a whole Mario Kart didn't change much as a whole series if you think about it, but it works. Except people seem to give it a free pass for its lacking content lol.
 

Striker Mario

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Super Mario Maker 2 is a utility game but didn't it at least come with premade levels?
 
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