Cat Mario: The Significance of Nintendo’s Utter Insanity

Before reading any of this, watch the E3 trailer for Super Mario 3D World above, even if you have already watched it 10 times. This trailer was the most significant video shown at E3 because it illustrates, without any doubt, that Nintendo has lost its mind for good. But unlike the case with Microsoft, Nintendo losing its marbles seems to be a potential sign of success.

Meow. When I first heard that at the end of the trailer, accompanied by a title screen with a cat tail, I knew it was all over. That is, the “war” between the Wii U and any other home console is over. This is not to say that Nintendo has won or lost the war. Nintendo is simply not fighting in the first place. Of course, we will continue to see Nintendo enlist some third-party support, but that’s more or less an attempt to offer variety and maybe get one or two more people to the freak show.

Mario games have always been weird, but Cat Mario goes beyond anything we’ve seen. Yes, it’s true this isn’t the first time Mario has donned the identity of an animal. But never has it seemed so central to the theme of the game or the message that Nintendo is sending. When Mario is in the cat suit, he’s on all fours, he scratches, he scampers up things, he pounces. Oh, and don’t forget the demented “Meow, meow” he utters when he first gets the power-up. An equivalency of such madness in Super Mario Bros. 3 would have been Raccoon Mario digging through garbage cans, meddling with people’s grills in their back yards and growling. The biggest question now is, will there be a litter box stage in Super Mario 3D World?

Indeed, how far is Nintendo willing to go? Since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the company has always been off the beaten track with its controllers and software. But tying its principal mascot to the behavior and sounds of cats? What has Nintendo done?

I’ll tell you what Nintendo has done. It’s no longer emphasizing the “innovation” euphemism. The company is point-blank saying to everyone, “Hey, look at me! I’m bananas! Wanna play?” And you know what? I do, I want to play.

Most significantly, Nintendo doesn’t care if we buy an Xbox One or PS4. A sign of insanity? Absolutely, and perhaps power.

10 Comments

  1. That game would be awesome to play. I want it right now! Anybody knows if it’s possible to play this game on PC and how?

  2. Adam Hoffman

    I don’t really think the level of craziness has increased here. I think the level of craziness for Mario has remained constant.

    • Jed Pressgrove

      Several others feel like you, Adam, and I can’t fault them for it. I guess the trailer can impact people in different ways, ultimately. I do think Nintendo is clearly not interested in fighting a traditional console war, though.

  3. I don’t think we need to stress too much about the cat suit. You say its central to the game but it was only really seen in about 10% of the trailer. Nintendo has also been pretty canny with its power ups in Mario games, never over doing them so you get warn out on them. I think back to the trailers from New Super Mario Bros 2 and the penguin suit, its a new and novel feature that they’re trying to highlight to get attention. For the younger gamers its a great idea, kids will love Mario moving and acting like a cat. An going back to NSMB2 again, didn’t Mario run and slide just like a penguin in that? I think to lure in adult gamers they need to move away from the cat suit and focus one key thing: the homage to Super Mario Bros 2, in that it brings Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad all back together again, each with unique attributes.

    • Jed Pressgrove

      Hey The Fool, thanks for the constructive criticism. I’m not stressed about Cat Mario – seems like a neat idea, all in all, though I’ve noticed some Nintendo fans were disappointed about no Mario Galaxy 3. I’m not going to debate what percentage of the trailer featured Cat Mario, and you, along with others, have pointed out the other animal suits in Mario games. But the context here seems different. Nintendo hasn’t sold a lot of Wii U systems in a while, and at the biggest video game event of the year, the company gives us a truly kooky – and some would even say “kinky” – video for the most important Mario game since Galaxy while showing a lack of interest in winning the console war. It’s a little on the nutty side, even for Nintendo.

      In contrast, New Super Mario Bros. 2 was just another Mario sequel. Although it sold quite well, it’s a handheld game and thus doesn’t hold as much sway in public opinion in regard to Nintendo’s position against Sony and Microsoft.

  4. Invino Veritas

    Gorgeous. Emphasizing the fine line between genius and insanity. What’s the difference? Who cares!? I finally have a reason to start playing games instead of watching Netflix on my Wii again! Joy! Huzzah! And the cooperative stylizing of the Mario World stuff is fantastic. You’re darn right they aren’t competing wth the other guys because I don’t see much else that compares to this. It’s always been about the gameplay experience with Nintendo. The other guys just seem to be spinning in place and regurgitating the same old conventions until they can try to emulate or integrate some new technology or innovation from someone else. Looking forward to it, absolutely.

  5. Brandon Vance

    Agreed. Nintendo is obviously playing it safe this go round with the hardware. Software innovation is going to (and frankly, is going to have to) be their selling point for this generation. Luckily, Nintendo does have a great track record with software innovation. But alas, a first party developer does not a massive commercial success of a system make. They need to get it together with the 3rd party support and really encourage and demo to the 3rd party developers how they can make great, exclusive titles using the Wii U gamepad.

    And for the the future, Nintendo. Please do not release a home console with little to no software. Just…no. It would have been better to release the Wii U one month before E3 with perhaps better and more plentiful software. Imagine the tagline; “So you like the software you have been playing the last month? Great. By the way, here are the awesome games coming later this year!” That would at least give them a fighting chance against the behemoths looming at the end of the year. Of course, this is all IMHO.

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