With the movie, several games, and a new theme park expansion delivered 2023 was a good year for Mario fans. Mahin looks back, and notes how 2024 is looking like a good one too.
You’ve heard of 2013's Year of Luigi — well, in my opinion, 2023 was indirectly the Year of Mario!
Mario's Big Year
We had three 'Mario' games come out in 2023 (Super Mario Bros. Wonder, WarioWare: Move It! and Super Mario RPG), along with two great bits of Mario DLC including the culmination of the gigantic Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Pass, the Super Nintendo World area at Universal Hollywood also opened up, and let’s not forget about the record-breaking debut of The Super Mario Bros Movie.
All this without even mentioning the upcoming continuation of Mario splendour due in 2024 — with four confirmed games on the way in the many Mario universes. But just how much Mario, is too much Mario?
Yes, the movie may not have won Best Video Game Adaptation in 2023’s The Game Awards but who needs that, when just one week after the movie’s release, it became the highest-grossing film based on a videogame ever — taking in a massive $1.36 billion worldwide! When you’re a parent in 2023 at the cinema with your kids, where else are your coins going to go but to a film that appeals not only to adults who possibly played Mario as a kid in the 80s/90s but to the kids target audience — that’s what you call, great marketing! The Sonic and Pokemon movies somehow never quite reached this lofty feat and that’s just a testament to the enduring power of the Mario franchise. But with all the activity in 2023, along with the games coming in 2024, some could say the world of Mario is starting to get oversaturated.
As a fan, it’s great to see so much content come from a franchise I love so much, but I’m starting to question whether I should be bored of this series yet? I mean we get it Mario! You can drive, throw great parties, and of course, you can platform. But somehow I’m not tired of all of this. Does this come from great timing? Savvy marketing from the team at Nintendo? The games being so consistently great? Am I just an unapologetic Nintendo fanboy? Or is the truth somewhere in the middle?
Within the Mario franchise, not every game is even in the same genre. Mario’s gloved fingers are in many pies and it doesn’t make me think twice about playing some Super Mario Bros. Wonder, then switching to Mario Kart with some friends, and then trying the newest offer on the block like Wario Ware: Move It. Even though I haven’t done much traveling throughout the world of video games, I’ve played a kart racer, a platformer and a… whatever Wario Ware is. I feel like the only genre we haven’t seen Mario go down is the FPS route and for good reason. The best we could hope for is a Switch exclusive Fortnite skin but even that is wishful thinking.
Mario in 2024
With the slew of games continuing to be released well into 2024, let’s forecast whether Mario’s rope is wearing a little thin. With all the Mario content pumping out, it’s not surprising to see a remake or two thrown in here. In fact, nearly every Mario game coming out in 2024 is pretty much a remake and the first one coming out in February is Mario vs. Donkey Kong on Switch.
This is followed by the only original title, Princess Peach Showtime on the 22nd of March. This game is gonna be great, especially after all the hype from the Barbie movie, and Peach's starring role in the Mario flick. Then, without a release date yet (apart from sometime in summer), comes Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon HD —weird that in 2024, being in HD is such a selling point. Finally, without any release date confirmed is my personal favourite, GameCube classic, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
This lineup may not be a blockbuster kick-ass year of Mario but it’s still great, and is a stacked line-up for a console that launched in 2017 — plus who knows what a potential Switch 2 has in store on the software side.
All in all, 2024 has another remake of a fan-beloved RPG in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, a game starring Peach for all the girls, gays and theys for us to slay in, and two other games — titles that do seem like Nintendo starting to scrape the barrel a bit, but I’m sure are still great for fans.
As for the year 2023 itself, we saw the great Super Mario Bros. Wonder. It was my game of the year and interestingly enough, the first time in a long while that we’ve seen such a drastic change in art style for the mainline platforming series. The characters are more expressive and the game even sees voice acting — not for the titular Mario Bros regulars, but instead for talking flowers dotted around the world. Could this new art style be prepping us for a movie/gaming merge? I dread the thought, but as for how things stand now, I love it.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder saw a changeup that, in my opinion, I’m not sure would have gone as far as it did if not for something like The Super Mario Bros Movie pushing the boundaries of what Mario can be.
The Transition from Charles Martinet
Another big change for the Mario formula was the decision to axe long-time fan favourite voice actor of Mario, Charles Martinet. He is now taking a back seat, becoming a Mario Ambassador, speaking the gospel of Mario around the world and continuing to generally push the brand forward in a non-voice acting capacity. I was very worried and angered by this decision and slightly still am. Martinet not only voiced Mario but Luigi, Waluigi and Wario too. However, if Super Mario Bros. Wonder and the talents of Kevin Afghani is anything to go by, we’re safe from a certain Lord of the Stars from entering the video game side of the Mushroom Kingdom… for now.
The most successful game on Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, also saw the end of a two-year-long slow release of new content. As it stands, the game now has 96 tracks and 48 playable characters. Pumping so much content into their most successful game made complete sense — even if it was recycled content from the Mario Kart Tour phone game. Super Mario RPG was a tug at the heartstrings for older Mario fans, and Wario Ware: Move It was also the same thing but for slightly younger audiences.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie has changed the Mario landscape forever — don’t look at the movie’s trophy cabinet to measure its success as it’s what this film earned at the box office that makes it so special and with award season still being in full swing, who knows what’s coming next for the series. A sequel, at least!
Thanks for this amazing year of Mario, Nintendo.
I can nitpick at this franchise that I love so much, but I will never stop giving Nintendo my money — even after trying to convince myself not to do so through writing this article, Mario clearly has me by the chokehold and continues to take my coins like a very unfair game of Mario Party.