The cynic in me knows that 31st March 2021 marks the end of a financial year for Nintendo, so them ending production and even digital availability of their 35th Anniversary Mario remaster package – Super Mario 3D All Stars – ensures that demand remains high and people are pushed into buying it rather than waiting, thus producing much higher sales in the specific period than they otherwise would have seen.
The optimist in me wants to believe that Nintendo will somehow split the games to sell separately or – now this is true optimism speaking – perhaps repackage them with the ‘missing’ game: Super Mario Galaxy 2.
However, given that they’re also removing online multiplayer title Super Mario 35 – a move which is irrelevant to their year end accounts, given that it’s free and offers added value to the somewhat lacklustre online service on the Switch – it all just feels odd. Netflix is also dropping the Super Mario Bros 3 cartoon from their streaming service on the same day – it just seems as if Nintendo might well be cutting off their nose to spite their face, with even the cool Game & Watch Super Mario Bros gadget being removed from sale on the 31st of March in addition to everything else that’s heading away from retail and digital shelves.
It’s a weird way to celebrate the anniversary of Nintendo’s flagship character, that’s for certain. Mario has been around longer than 35 years of course, having debuted in 1981 as Jumpman, the hero and player avatar in arcade classic Donkey Kong. His first ever game as ‘Mario’ was prior to 1985’s Super Mario Bros too, but it’s that sidescrolling platform classic that the 35th Anniversary is really celebrating. Using the old Disney model of making media available for a limited period to drive up demand and force higher sales when re-releasing worked for the House of Mouse back in the pre-internet days, but now just seems like a very antiquated way of temporarily raising consumer interest.
With it being the 35th Anniversary of groundbreaking NES action RPG The Legend of Zelda this year, fans were poised for a possible remastered collection of Zelda titles too – yet all that’s been announced so far is a remaster of one of the least fondly remembered Zelda games, Skyward Sword, which was previously only available on Wii. The Wii exclusive was designed around the motion controls that were the console’s blessing and curse. There’s countless adventures that could be re-released or given a new lick of paint, in much the same way that Game Boy remake Link’s Awakening was recently treated to on Switch, but it seems that there’s nothing else on the way – though I’d be very happy if that wasn’t the case.
Let’s not forget that it’s also the 35th Anniversary of Metroid this year, a series which is so influential that an entire sub-genre of 2D platform exploration games are partially named after it (with Castlevania providing the rest of the sub-genre’s name): Metroidvania. Known also for its end game reveal that the protagonist, Samus Aran, is a woman, Metroid has been a little neglected by Nintendo in recent years – so it’s ripe for a new entry or a remaster collection. Yet there’s not been any word at all on a new (or re-released) Metroid game.
With the way that even Mario, Nintendo’s perennially popular mascot, has been treated for his limited edition, potentially blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Anniversary, perhaps we shouldn’t be raising our hopes for Link and Samus just yet.
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