We’re knee deep in my memories of Mario, and now that both the 2D platforming and 3D platforming aspects of Mario’s career are out of the way, I figured I’d give him a break and focus on some of the other stars Mario has made along the way. This part is all about the spin-offs. We’re talking Luigi, Yoshi, Wario, and Peach. So what did they do that was so great? Well, let’s take a look.
A lot of people were wondering what Nintendo’s next move after Super Mario World would be, and as usual, the next move wasn’t an expected one. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island came out for the SNES as a platformer, but the main character wasn’t really Mario, it was Yoshi. Mario was still there as a baby riding on Yoshi’s back, but he wasn’t necessarily a happy inclusion since whenever Yoshi was attacked, Mario would begin crying. Suddenly everyone learned to hate Mario, a feat that isn’t easy to accomplish.
Whining babies aside, Yoshi’s Island did its own thing, establishing Yoshi’s traits and abilities for years to come, such as his ability to shoot eggs, flutter for short distances, and perform a ground pound, a move that Mario wouldn’t even learn until Super Mario 64. But probably the best moment of Yoshi’s Island came at the end during the fight against Baby Bowser. The term “epic” gets thrown around constantly during video game discussions, but the final battle truly was. Go check this one out for the usual reasonable Amazon price.
Yoshi somewhat missed out when Mario 64 came out, being included only as that pitiful 100% completion reward, albeit unusable. He wouldn’t get his next big featuring until Yoshi’s Story, a game that was surprisingly looked over due to it’s more colorful nature and definite E rating. Still, you’ll have a hard time finding a better-looking game on the 64.
Gone was Mario, completely absent in Yoshi’s new adventure. Baby Bowser would make a return, but no Mario whatsoever. It was nice to be free of that shrill cry when hit by enemies, replaced instead with sounds of Yoshi nomming fruits left and right. While a typical playthrough of the game didn’t take very long and wasn’t all that hard, to unlock all 24 levels was just brutally difficult and only the best Yoshi players could manage the task. My wife, the Yoshi Master, did this without any trouble. Keep in mind, she’s also the only one of the two of us to have a 100% completion score in Yoshi’s Island, so I suppose not everyone is capable of something this challenging. Otherwise, the Virtual Console has this one as well as Amazon for around $10.
The Wario Land Series:
Wario gets introduced as the villain of Super Mario Land 2, but after his defeat he next shows up as, of all things, the main hero of Super Mario Land 3, subtitled Wario Land. Thus began Wario’s individual career separate of his archrival, and while the first game was doing everything it could to separate itself from Mario, it still felt like a Mario game. Wario had power-ups and platforming similar to a Mario game, but the emphasis was placed much higher on treasure collecting. Collecting all the treasures and enough coins would reward Wario with a larger castle in the end, possibly even a planet if you were good enough. Mario made his one cameo at the end of the first game, just to spite Wario more or less, but after that Wario was all on his own.
The games after the first really separated Wario from Mario by making him invincible in some instances, placing a higher value on the power-ups as a means to progress and definitely on the treasure collecting. These days you couldn’t even recognize Wario’s games next to Mario’s, making him his own franchise. Still, the first Wario Land game is a fun place to start. Heck, you can get it for under $3.
The Warioware Series:
But Wario wouldn’t just be content with platforming. Nope, he’d invent a whole new genre of games with the Warioware series, known for the incredible abundance of mini-games fired at lightning speeds. Each mini-game lasts for less than 5 seconds in some cases with a simple instruction like “Pick” or “Land” or “Chop” or something like that, purposefully disorienting you to make the challenge that much greater. Add to this a weird factor I can’t do justice to in words and you have yourself a winner.
The Warioware series would have a number of imitators over the years, as well as it’s own sequels whenever a new piece of Nintendo technology was introduced, such as the DS’ touch screen, tilt sensors for the GBA, or the Wii’s motion controls. For me though, my favorite game was the GameCube version. The controls lacked a gimmick, which I was fine with, but is supported excellent multiplayer. Take advantage of its obscurity and pick it up on Amazon while you have the chance.
A lot of people were disappointed to learn that Mario wouldn’t be starting the GameCube off as a launch title, but rather his green-clad brother, Luigi. He wouldn’t even be platforming. Instead, Luigi was thrown into a ghost-busting adventure in a haunted mansion and while most people couldn’t get into the concept, I was amazed with what the new hardware could do. The lighting effects were amazing, as well as some of the finer graphical points. But people just couldn’t get past the obvious omission of Mario.
Mario was in the game though. The whole point of Luigi going to the mansion in the first place was that Mario was missing, except this time it didn’t include geography and learning, thank God. It was all about Luigi going room-to-room with a vacuum cleaner that could suck up ghosts. I’m still wondering where the sequel for the Wii is since it seems like a no-brainer of a concept. Flashlight? Perfect for motion controls. Vacuum cleaner? Also perfect for motion controls. Where is this game Nintendo? Oh well, the original’s a steal wherever you go looking for it, and as usual, I recommend checking Amazon first.
Super Princess Peach:
What’s this? The Princess is the main character, not Mario or even Luigi? Yes, Peach got her first taste of stardom with Super Princess Peach, a platformer with its own style. I spent this last December tracking down a copy for my wife as a Christmas gift, and naturally I had to play it was soon as she was done. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only wasn’t the game lame, it was pretty darned good.
My only major gripe is the lack of a resolution to the umbrella’s story. They set up Peach’s umbrella sidekick with its own backstory, but they never really resolve it. At the end of the game Peach saves Mario and that’s that. No closure, not even with a 100% completion ending. Even if you have a slight curiosity, please do get this one. It gave me a solid week’s worth of gaming and I enjoyed every minute of it, more or less. Save some time and just take the online route rather than the painful trek I had from store-to-store.
Those are the main Mari spin-offs I played, though there are a lot more, believe you me. Yoshi, naturally, has a handful of games I didn’t even mention. And Wario only got a small section despite his dozen or so games. Of course, my Mario retrospective isn’t over yet. We’ve still got sports, karts, and RPG’s to talk about, but that’s something for another day. Come back late next week to read part 4. In the meantime, leave some more Mario comments, this time on his side-characters and the also-rans of the series. What is your favorite spin-off series? Or do you even bother? Me, I’ll just wait patiently for Luigi’s Mansion 2. I may just be waiting for a while.
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