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.