If True, Nintendo’s 35th Anniversary Mario Plans Would Be Legendary

The other day a set of rumors came out that took over the internet, in a good way. The rumor started from a semi-reputable source (semi-reputable because they have a good track record but haven’t covered rumors too much), then it slowly started getting confirmed by more and more reputable sites. It’s one of those ‘it sounds too good to be true’ sort of things until it seems…it is true. For those that missed the rumor, it is as follows:

For Nintendo’s 35th Anniversary of the Mario Series, Nintendo plans to launch most of Mario’s 35 years of games on Nintendo Switch, including remasters for Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy. Those remasters will then be released in a Super Mario All Stars 2 package. On top of that, a brand new Paper Mario title will release for Switch that will bring the series back to its roots (like the N64 or GameCube games). Nintendo also plans on releasing a Deluxe version of Super Mario 3D World on Switch, which would include new levels. Lastly, Nintendo would re-release older Mario titles on, not currently on, services like NES/SNES Online. All of those things would happen this year, 2020.

Take a moment to take a breath, calm your racing heart, and relax. You see how it sounds too good to be true? We’ve seen outlandish rumors before, normally from random Reddit users or fake named Twitter users pretending to be in the know. Yet this one was and is different. It was confirmed by all the big gaming outlets, with proven insiders at Eurogamer, Kotaku, and VentureBeat all backing up the entire story. It’s amazing, it’s mind blowing, it’s…so unlike Nintendo. So for this piece, I wanted to jump into the rumors and see if we can get a clearer idea of how this is happening and if such a thing is possible. To be fair, I completely believe the information. So this is more of a deep dive into it rather than an attempt to disprove it.

Why Would Nintendo Do This?

Remarkably, this was the most asked question on VGC (the rumor’s originating website) website when the article went up. It’s not that people were asking because they legit didn’t understand why Nintendo would do such a thing. They asked this because Nintendo isn’t known for doing something that great for an anniversary event. In fact, Nintendo is somewhat notorious for not doing anything special for game series anniversaries. Remember that 20th Anniversary event for Metroid? Of course you don’t, because it never happened. The only Metroid-related thing that happened in 2016 was….(shudders), Metroid Prime: Federation Force. There was no big deal made, no party, nothing.

Super Mario has seen some celebrations for its anniversary over the years. The 25th Anniversary featured the excellent release of Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition on Wii (which turned out not to be limited in any way). Yet that was about it. A game collection and some special colored hardware, but that’s about all. Even Mario’s 30th Anniversary was relatively minor, with a new set of 30th Anniversary Mario Amiibos released and Super Mario Maker released for Wii U. Are you starting to see why that question was asked? It’s not that Nintendo doesn’t do anything for anniversaries, especially Mario’s. It’s that Nintendo typically does something and then..that’s about it.

So, why would Nintendo do this? Well, we’ve seen the Switch be, in a sense, Nintendo’s rebirth. Nintendo has returned to the Nintendo many of us remember in our youth: Making remarkable games that blow us away while continuing to blow expectations out of the water. Gone are the over-the-top, gimmicky motion controlled games aimed for very casual game players. Gone are the game franchises that continue to be ignored even though we keep asking for new games to be released in those series (except for F-Zero or Wave Race fans, those guys can’t catch a break). Nintendo has brought back franchises to the Switch, created perhaps the greatest versions of Zelda, Mario and Smash Bros., and created a console that didn’t just put Nintendo back on the map but at the top of the conversation. Nintendo’s back, and that’s where a collection like this could make sense.

Look at the top selling games on Switch. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario Party, and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe take 5 out of the Top 10. Mario is a proven seller, but you already knew that. Yet that’s exactly why a collection like this would make sense. Mario games sell, and when you take some of the greatest Mario games ever (Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy) or the most underappreciated Mario games (Super Mario Sunshine), then you have a recipe for success. For years people have been asking for those games on Switch as is. Now, tell all those people that they are not only getting those games but ‘remasters’ and, take a look at the internet yesterday, people lost it…in a good way.

How and Who Could Do This For Nintendo?

Nintendo is a big gaming company, but it’s not THAT big. You’re talking about ‘remasters’ of 3 full length 3D Mario titles, a deluxe port of Super Mario 3D World with new content, a brand new Paper Mario and re-releases of older Mario titles on a modern console. That’s quite a lot for Nintendo to do on its own while still making games for other franchises. So, how could it been done? Well, the easy (or easier) part is the re-releases of older Mario titles. NERD (Nintendo European Research and Development team) has been responsible for the HD re-releases of NES and SNES games on Switch Online and on the NES/SNES Mini devices. They’ve proven they can do a great job at the porting process and are a no-brainer for porting older Mario titles to Switch. My question is, “What games are left to port?” If we are limited to, say, NES and SNES, then the Mario games left would be:

  • Mario Is Missing!
  • Mario Paint
  • Mario’s Time Machine
  • Mario’s Early Years (series)
  • Tetris & Dr. Mario
  • Super Mario All-Stars
  • Mario’s Super Picross
  • Super Mario RPG

That’s it. Realistically, only Super Mario All-Stars and Super Mario RPG are worth porting to Switch. If it was expanded to include platforms like Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, or DS, then things could get interesting (although the GBA had no original Super Mario series titles released on it, only remakes).

As far as Paper Mario, well, that’s one that is fairly easy too. Intelligent Systems has handled the franchise over the last 20 years to some highs (like Paper Mario on N64 or Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on GameCube) and to the lows (looking at you, Paper Mario: Sticker Star). Paper Mario: Color Splash was their last Paper Mario title, and while it was a good game, it felt like it was trying to be both the new and old games together. Going back to its roots, Intelligent Systems easily can handle the Paper Mario game, especially considering they are finished with the Fire Emblem: Three Houses DLC.

The deluxe port of Super Mario 3D World has been rumored heavily for the past year or so and could easily be done by one of Nintendo’s internal teams. One of Nintendo’s EPD (Entertainment Planning & Development) teams would be the likely choice as they were responsible for the deluxe ports of Mario Kart 8 and New Super Mario Bros. U. Nintendo could also use NST (Nintendo Software Technology) development team in the US, responsible for the Switch port of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and The Stretchers. Lastly, the other logical internal choice would be 1-Up Studio, a Nintendo-owned company that is mainly used as a development support studio.

The 3 ‘remasters’ are where things could get really interesting. It also depends on what ‘remaster’ really means. Lately, when we hear remasters, we think of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy or Spyro Reignited Trilogy as examples of remasters. However, remasters could simply be something more like Ty the Tasmanian Tiger HD or Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. Those games were remastered, then from their original platform, in their original form, and improved in various ways. Those games don’t look drastically different from their original games but feature some graphical or control improvements. Nintendo could go that route, in which case almost any team or studio could handle that job. Of course, Super Mario Sunshine likely would need the most work. The camera control system, frame-rate issues, and need for analog controls would need improvement. However, let’s say Nintendo did want to go down the route of a full remaster. Who could do it? Well, look to see who Nintendo has used in the past few years:

Any one of those developers would do nicely as their work on those titles were top notch. If Nintendo really was going all out for Mario 35th, picking one or two of these studios would certainly help them in getting 3 full remasters done. There is another possibly, perhaps more unlikely. Nintendo could turn to Switch port studios, companies that have made a name for themselves bringing titles, however unlikely, to Nintendo’s console.

As the above lists show, there are many very capable studios who could assist Nintendo. A lot of the games above are some games most people would never think possible on Switch. Yet the “impossible” has been done. Nintendo could very easily turn to one of these development studios to assist in such a task. That said, the studios above tend to be normally involved in porting or assisting games rather than taking on full development. Still, if Nintendo wanted to go big, using any of the studios above would be a great choice.

How Likely Is This?

Surprisingly, extremely likely to almost certain. When we initially heard the rumor from VGC, it was too good to be true. Then when Eurogamer, Kotaku, and VentureBeat all confirmed the accuracy of the story, saying they had sources tell them the same thing, it no longer seemed like a fantasy. Do you notice how when some random Twitter person pretending to be an “insider” puts out some outlandish rumor, none of the major gaming outlets cover it? No one backs it up, and people ignore it. Remember when a supposed insider in late 2016 took to Reddit and Twitter to say The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was “delayed” and wouldn’t be out until June 2017 at the earliest? No one really jumped on the story because it wasn’t true. This, this is different. When numerous reputable outlets, journalists, and staff put out the exact same rumor, then it’s nearly confirmed. There’s a saying that goes “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” The basic meaning of the phrase is that when there are enough rumors or signs of something that many people back up, then it must be true. In this rumor, there’s enough smoke to prove it’s happening.

However, how will we get these games? Will it really come in a collection bundled together? That’s the hard part guess right now. When Nintendo has done remasters in the past (Wind Waker HD/Twilight Princess HD), they sold them individually for $60. When they did the 25th Anniversary Mario All-Stars Limited Edition game, they sold it all together for $50. That bundle included 4 games, a CD of Mario music, and an art book. The truth is that it’s hard to figure Nintendo out on this. If I had to guess, I could see Nintendo going one of three directions:

  1. Sell Super Mario 64 HD, Super Mario Sunshine HD, and Super Mario Galaxy HD individually for $50-$60. Knowing Nintendo’s naming conventions, yes, I believe they will call the games HD rather than remastered.
  2. Sell Super Mario 64 HD and Super Mario Sunshine HD individually for $50-$60, sell Super Mario Galaxy HD + Super Mario Galaxy 2 HD as a bundle for $60. (The rumors aren’t clear if it’s only the first Mario Galaxy or both Mario Galaxy games. Personally, I’d love to see them both.)
  3. Sell Super Mario 64 HD, Super Mario Sunshine HD, and Super Mario Galaxy HD as a Super Mario All-Stars 3D Collection for $60.

Honestly, for me, the hardest option to see as realistic is the third option. Nintendo highly values their past games, and giving 3 full Mario games “away” for $60 seems a bit more generous than Nintendo normally acts. However, I honestly never thought they’d do any of the above things, so maybe the third option IS what this new Nintendo would do.

Regardless, this is truly an exciting possibility. I personally think Super Mario 64 is one of the greatest games ever made, and I go back to it every year to replay it. Super Mario Sunshine is a game I enjoyed but could see the problems with it. I’ve said numerous times that that game deserves another chance because despite its faults, it’s a good Mario game. And what’s there to say about Super Mario Galaxy? It’s an incredible game that I’d love to see again. If this all proves true, if we really get what the rumor mill is telling us, then 2020 is not only going to be a fantastic year for the Switch, but perhaps it will be the year that solidifies the Switch as the greatest Nintendo console ever.

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