Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ghost's Arcade: Mario Needs to Let Go of the Past

Ghost here, thanks for joining.

Mario is one of the most recognized and beloved gaming icons in existence today.  He is the face of an entire company and has sold approximately 507 million games (as of the writing of this piece) from his various adventures and sub-genres.  Mario is a colossus of the video game industry that few franchises have come remotely close to. With so many millions of games sold, the Mario franchise should have some of the best games imaginable, right?  Well... no actually.  Despite the fame and profitability, the Mario franchise is full of quite frankly sub-par games.  I'm not talking outliers here as every franchise has a few stinkers lying about... I'm talking the majority of them are simply not that great outside of a few pockets of series under the Mario sphere of influence.

I realize that this is highly a matter of opinion and that many would say, based on the franchise's sale records, that my opinion is the minority or even completely wrong.  However, I'm going to spend this post defending my statement and providing and over-arching theory as to why the Mario games are less than appealing. I do this with the hope that maybe one day these "problems" will be corrected.  I would love for the Mario series to actually earn its "best selling franchise" title.  Mario has the potential to be worthy of the praise and sales but constantly falls short of the mark.  Why is that?  Well it's my theory that the creative minds behind the series are getting far too stuck on nostalgia rather than moving forward with their ideas.  In other words, Mario needs to let go of the past.

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Before I explain this theory I feel it is prudent to first share my thoughts on several of the main Mario titles available just so you know where I stand.  If this doesn't interest you then feel free to skip this section as it is quite lengthy.  *Note - I will not be mentioning every single Mario game here.  I will simply be aiming at the most recognizable ones with Mario as the main lead.  If you are curious, however, I find the Luigi's Mansions games and Captain Toad quite enjoyable whereas I tend to lump the Yoshi and Wario games together in a "not quite crap" category*

Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, and Super Mario World
These games are absolute classics that laid the ground work (and improved upon said groundwork) of the franchise.  Please note that while I said they were classics I never said anything about them being good.  I realize that many people absolutely adore these games and if you are one of those people I understand why.  For me however, the gameplay mechanics which were wonderful at the time have aged very poorly.  I find them archaic to be honest with you.  Normally an old game just being old wouldn't be a problem but some of these archaic gameplay mechanics keep cropping up to this very day when they really shouldn't as I shall explain later on.  I also find these games insanely difficult; so difficult that I have actually never made it past World 1 on any of these titles.  Not a fan, but I get it if you are.

Super Mario Bros 2 and Super Mario RPG
Here are a couple of interesting diversions from the norm early on in the series' lifetime.  I tend to label these as "kind of" Mario games as opposed to true Mario titles.  Why?  Well Super Mario Bros 2 is actually a re-skin of a Japanese game Doki Doki Panic because Nintendo of America thought the actual Mario Bros 2 was too difficult for an American audience.  Super Mario RPG is a completely different direction for gameplay and is basically a gigantic love letter to Final Fantasy.  That's not to say that they aren't good... or at least that's not to say that RPG isn't good.  Super Mario RPG is absolutely fantastic and laid the ground work for the Paper Mario series to follow.  Super Mario Bros 2 however is only slightly better than bad at it's best.  I don't really enjoy it but it did introduce some elements to the series that still show up today such as the turnips and how each hero plays differently; these are elements that I enjoy in the series.

Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine
I've grouped these together because I feel they are opposite sides of the same coin in many aspects.  One is a well beloved classic adored by many when it doesn't necessarily deserve that title while the other is an often forgotten game that probably deserves more attention than it ever got.  Super Mario 64 is a pioneer in the realm of 3D platforming gameplay and should be praised for not only that but introducing the health meter into a non-RPG Mario title.  It's something that began a new wave of ingenuity for gaming as a whole...but that's about the end of the good things I can say about it.  I found the game to be quite difficult to control at times with a camera that is next to non-functional.  I was honestly quite bored with this game... it never gripped me.  Super Mario Sunshine on the other hand had a fairly ludicrous story that would make a five year old chuckle but it included an interesting new mechanic with the F.L.U.D.D. as well as a unique setting in the Isle Delfino.  The controls and camera were responsive and I actually was fully interested in the game from start to finish.

Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2
I'll go ahead and say it.  Super Mario Galaxy is (so far) the pinnacle of Mario games.  Honestly everything since Galaxy has come out has been a step backwards or a side-step.  Mario hasn't been able to progress any further than Galaxy.  With Galaxy, Mario didn't necessarily grow with leaps and bounds in the story department, but rather in the gameplay department.  The game was fun, inventive, and included new mechanics such as the spinning and star bit shooting as well as a unique feeling of gravity on each planet or section visited.  While it still had a few game ideas from the long past, overall most irritations could be ignored completely because of how good this game was.  It's a pity that they haven't grown since this point.  Every game released since Galaxy has been either the same thing (Galaxy 2) or a step backwards into the past (all other main Mario titles)

Paper Mario Series and Mario & Luigi Series
NOW we're talking!  These sets of games are, for the most part, absolutely brilliant.  Everything that the normal Mario games lack, these games have in abundance.  These games have actually included real personality and character development into the characters from the Mushroom Kingdom.  In fact, 90% of Princess Peach's and Bowser's character development comes from these games alone.  These games do new and exciting things with the gameplay mechanics that the main series just simply doesn't have the guts to explore or try.  These games also house a sizable quantity of humor which is absent from the very vanilla main series.  I'm calling these games brilliant not simply because of the RPG elements to them (though that certainly helps), but rather because they shake things up and take risks.  However...main game shenanigans randomly appear at times in these games to such as Super Paper Mario abandoning the turn-based RPG style for mostly 2D platforming gameplay for absolutely no reason. 

Mario Kart Series
Racing Perfection!  I've already made a blog post about how these games are simply too perfect so I wont say much else here.  If you want to play a racing game then pick up one of these titles immediately... especially Mario Kart 8.

Mario Party Series and Mario Sports Series
A waste of your time and money.  Mario sports games are an attempt to recapture the greatness they achieved with Mario Kart by exploring other sporting events... with little to no success.  They can be fun but are mostly not worth your time.  Mario Party games are basically the equivalent of gambling with the only possible outcome is to be unsuccessful, completely screwed, or absolutely f****d!  Don't waste any time or money on this.

New Super Mario Bros Series, Super Mario 3D World, and Super Mario Maker
Rehashes of the original Mario game concepts (or in 3D World's case a sort of pairing between Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario 64) with very few improvement over the original concept except for pure aesthetics.  The one improvement that DID come about was some admittedly inventive motion control additions here and there, so that's nice.  If you are a fan of the original Mario games you may find comfort and enjoyment from the same old shtick.  If you, like me, do not enjoy them then these are fairly worthless.  As a side note, yes I realize Super Mario Maker gives you the ability to make your own levels which is not something a Mario game has let you do before but there have been thousands of programs to create your own Mario levels online which give you a bountiful harvest more features for free as opposed to this $60 title. 

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Now that you understand my viewpoint on the Mario series as a whole till now (or now that you've skipped that nonsense) let's take a closer look at some of these ideas from the past that just keep cropping up and are stopping Mario from being the success he should be.

Archaic Gameplay Ideas

It goes without saying that Super Mario Bros for the NES is a dated game.  The technology to make amazing games that we have today just wasn't available back in 1985.  While I can complain that Super Mario Bros is far too difficult of a game for me, that complaint will never change the fact that it was a technical achievement at the time.  It was a good game based on the limitations they had and the gameplay they needed to make based on those quickly changing limitation.  However, one question remains.  Why on earth have some of these same design choices and requirements remained around to this very day?  I'm not talking about the act of jumping on an enemy to defeat them.  That's a simple enough design choice that has truly become Mario's bread and butter; I wouldn't ask for that to be changed.  I'm talking about other portions of gameplay.

Why is the multi-segment health bar which was first given to us in 1996 with Super Mario 64 not the default setting for all Mario games?  If not the default setting why is this not, at least, an option for all Mario games whether 2D platforming or any other non-RPG style Mario game?  One of the biggest reasons I find the original Mario games so insanely difficult is the demand for perfection that those games require.  The games are designed to require a practically perfect run by only allowing you 1-3 hits before death depending on your power ups at the time.  Many gamers today just simply don't have the skill required to complete games like this without a little extra health buffer.  Heck, I'd say that many gamers back in the 80's didn't have the skill level required either.  With Nintendo's continued emphasis on drawing the casual consumer to their products, I find it baffling that they haven't accounted for the lower skill level of these casual consumers with their flagship series at least as an optional selection

Speaking of the health system and taking damage, why are we still losing our power-up after one hit 30 years later?  With the original game, if you possessed the Fire Flower but accidentally touched an enemy you would lose the fire flower ability.  While I'm not sure if this was a stylistic choice or some sort of necessary evil at the time of development, what I AM sure about is that this should have ended a long time ago.  Yet, 30 years later we keep losing our special ability the second we fall prey to an enemy.  Generally this results in the level becoming insanely difficult if not impossible until we can find another power-up, or (more likely) die and have to re-start the level.  This should not be.  The Mario franchise has, for quite awhile, been treating these power-ups as a sort of alternate form for Mario.  Mario grabs a fire flower and becomes "Fire Mario."  What the series needs to do is take notes from other franchises with alternate forms.

For example, Banjo Kazooie has a game mechanic where Banjo can transform into different things via magic.  Banjo can turn into a crocodile and has various abilities and benefits as a crocodile for that particular level similar to how Mario has benefits and abilities as Cat Mario.  When Banjo is attacked by an enemy he doesn't lose his crocodile form.  He doesn't have to head back to Mumbo Jumbo to transform back into a crocodile then carefully make his way back to where he was before to continue.  He just takes the hit, loses some health, and keeps on trucking as a crocodile.   This is how Mario power-ups should be handled. If you are Fire Mario you stay as Fire Mario unless you choose to terminate the ability.  Another idea would be to make the power-ups only last for a few minutes but can be reactivated at any point indefinitely.  Obviously something like Rainbow Mario and the Super Star would not apply here as that would be game breaking.

Lastly, would it kill Mario to have the ability to block/guard outside of the RPG style games?  Everything I've just complained about would be really nice to have but would almost become unnecessary if Mario had the ability to block attacks.  If he could block attacks he wouldn't lose as much health nor would he lose his power up... provided you block at the right moment.  BAM!  You'd instantly have a superior game with the tiniest of changes.  Now I realize some of you may be thinking that adding a blocking mechanic in a 2D platforming game would somewhat fundamentally change the point of the genre because the point of 2D platforming is to avoid enemies and navigate through screens with precision.  To that I point you in the direction of Super Paper Mario.  While it does have a larger health bar than classic Mario games it is predominately a 2D platformer where your goal is to avoid damage and navigate through screens defeating enemies along the way.   Princess Peach has the ability in this game to use her parasol to block all enemy attacks no matter how big or small at the cost of her mobility.  While blocking she cannot move at all.  She is a godsend in that game for this ability and it is something that should be shared with the rest of the franchise on a universal scale.

Overused Story

Non-traditional Mario games like Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario, and Mario & Luigi tend to have varied and experimental plots at times.  While they may not be the absolute most original things on the face of the planet they are leagues better than the main Mario series games.   The storyline of the main Mario series is so stale it's practically mummified!  Not sure what I'm talking about?   Let's take a look at each of the main Mario series titles (and a few that are questionable in their placement) and see if there's any similar themes among them

Super Mario Bros (1985) - Bowser kidnaps the princess
Super Mario Bros 2 (1988) - Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Toad must save the dream world from Wart
Super Mario Bros 3 (1988) - Bowser has taken over the Mushroom Kingdom and kidnaps the princess
Super Mario Land (1989) - Tatanga has kidnapped a different princess
Super Mario World (1990) - Bowser kidnaps the princess
Super Mairo Land 2 (1992) - Wario has taken over Mario's Woods while he is away in the previous game.
Super Mario 64 (1996) - Bowser kidnaps the princess
Super Mario Sunshine (2002) - Mario is impersonated and is sentenced to clean the island... then Bowser Jr. kidnaps the princess
Super Princess Peach (2005) - Bowser kidnaps Mario and Luigi
New Super Mario Bros(2006) - Bowser Jr. kidnaps the princess
Super Mario Galaxy (2007) - Bowser kidnaps the princess and her castle taking them to outer space
New Super Mario Bros Wii (2009) - Bowser kidnaps the princess
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010) - Bowser kidnaps the princess and her castle taking them to outer space
Super Mario 3D Land (2011) - Bowser kidnaps the princess
New Super Mario Bros 2 (2012) - Bowser kidnaps the princess
New Super Mario Bros U (2012) - Bowser invades the caste and tosses Mario and Luigi far away
Super Mario 3D World (2013) - Bowser has kidnapped a group of fairies.

...are you KIDDING ME?!?!

You mean to tell me out of the 17 main Mario titles only 5 of them don't ultimately involve rescuing a princess?  Of those 5, Super Princess Peach is just a role reversal and 3D World he's still kidnapping something...which leaves us 3 that are actually different   As previously stated however, Mario 2 is actually a re-skin of a different game so that one (at least in my mind) shouldn't count here as they just used the plot of the original Doki Doki Panic.... which leave us 2 that are different.   Super Mario Land 2 and New Super Mario Bros U are the only legit ones in the whole series that are a change from the formula.   Even at that, New Super Mario Bros U only gets a half pass cause Bowser has still technically taken the princess he just took her and stayed put rather than taking her to his castle. 

As a contrast, let's take a look at the more RPG styled Mario games and see what their plots have to offer us.

Super Mario RPG (1996) - A large sword crashes into Bowser's castle and scatters Mario, Bowser, and the Princess across the world.  They must band together with Mallow and Geno to defeat Smithy and restore Star Road.
Paper Mario (2000) - Bowser kidnaps the princess
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (2003) - Fawful and Cackletta steal Peach's voice and take it to the Beanbean Kingdom to awaken a wish-granting star for Cackletta to rule the world with.
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (2004) - Sir Grodus of the X-nauts kidnaps the princess but is ultimately trying to gather the Crystal Stars to open the Thousand Year Door and unleash the evil within.
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (2005) - Princess Peach takes a time machine into the past where the Past Mushroom Kingdom is being invaded by aliens.  She is kidnapped by the alien leader in the past.  Mario and Luigi team up with their baby selves to save her.
Super Paper Mario (2007) - Count Blek unleashes the Chaos Heart to destroy all worlds.  It is up to Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and Peach to collect the Pure Hearts to stop the Chaos Heart and defeat the enemy who isnt the one you're expecting
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (2009) - During an outbreak of a disease, Fawful puts his world domination plan into effect by giving Bowser a mushroom that causes him to inhale Mario, Luigi, Peach and others.  Mario and Luigi must work inside Bowser to awaken him etc while Bowser fights off Fawful to get back the Mushroom and Koopa Kingdoms.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star (2012) - When stickers are spread all over the place due to an accident, Mario sets off to repair a torn world.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (2013) - Antasma kidnaps the princess
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (2015 *not released in America yet) - Bowser and Paper Bowser kidnap the princess

The plots to the RPG styled Mario games speaks volumes more than you may even realize at first.  While the princess may be kidnapped in 50% of these games... it's only 50% of them as opposed to the 88.3% in the main series games.  Also, if you notice, that only three of these plots can be summed up so briefly as to simply say "X kidnaps the princess."  The Thousand Year Door and Partners in Time have other things going on that distract you from the fact that the princess has been captured due to the gravity or strangeness of the situation  The 50% that do NOT have the princess being captures are all incredibly unique for a Mario game and many times are inventive to boot.  Obvious time and effort have gone in to crafting the plots for these games; time that clearly isn't spent on the main series games.  However these plots also reveal the point I'm trying to make.  If you notice, of the three which can be easily summed up as "X kidnaps the princess," the first is the very first Paper Mario game which can be somewhat forgiven as they made an effort to make the Paper Mario series more diverse in plot after that game.  However the other two simplified plots can be found right at the end.  The latest two games of the Mario & Luigi series see them somewhat abandoning their unique stories and jumping right back into the stagnant sewage that is simply rescuing the princess.  Yes, I am making that assumption based on wiki pages for Paper Jam.  It's just another move in the constant trend of keeping even the most unique entries of the Mario franchise in check with the predictability of the franchise. 

If variety is, in fact, the spice of life then the main Mario series is a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a rice cake.  It's not a bad thing to eat but it's the most soulless thing you can find.  I sincerely hope that the main series can take inspiration from its RPG counterparts and being including unique and engaging plots outside of saving the princess.  I also hope that the trend I see towards the end of the RPG styled games comes to a stop and they go back to having their unique stories.  Mario needs to take risks with its plot.  Sure that means that you may end up with a sub-par story here and there but I would much rather have a bizarre or poor story that is very unique than a good story being tainted by extreme over use and stagnation.  This is why I've grown a love for Super Mario Sunshine over the years.  Yes it ultimately came down to Bowser Jr. kidnapping the princess but before that it was a mystery of a false identity making the island messy and Mario having to clean it up to clear his name.  It wasn't necessarily a really good plot/mystery but it was something different and I appreciate it so much for that very fact.

Bland Characterization

Once again I'm going to be saying that the main games need to pull inspiration from their RPG counterparts so I'm going to be more brief here.

Within the main Mario series, the four major characters of the Mushroom Kingdom don't really have that much personality to them.  I can easily state their personalities in two words or fewer. Mario - Generic Hero, Luigi - Timid, Peach - Sugary Sweet, Bowser - Evil  Now some of you may be saying that the ability to summarize a character into a couple words isn't an indicator of poor characterization.  That is true.  For example, Han Solo from Star Wars is "the rebel," Izzy Izumi from Digimon is "the braniac,"  and Baynetta is "the sexy one."   The difference here is that Han Solo is more than just a rebel.  You can go into detail about his personality and the things he enjoys.  Calling him "the rebel" is simply a summary of his various character traits.  When it comes to Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Bowser... those words I used are NOT summaries.  That's just all there is to them.

That's not to say that having a happy hero, a timid hero, a pleasant damsel, and a big evil bad guy is a horrible thing.  It's just so incredibly generic... especially when you compare them to the RPG style games which gave far more character to each of them.  While Mario hasn't developed all that much in the RPG games, you still get to see him react with frustration and confusion and true elation.  From these games you can kind of get the impression that he's a happy hero type because he's a little bit thick.  You get to see a few layers to Mario that you don't see in the main games where you're lucky to get a single look of surprise when Bowser kidnaps the princess for the 15th time.  With Luigi you see that he has some true fears and insecurities.  He has a bit of a complex due to always being deep in his brother's shadow though he doesn't hold that against Mario.  Peach and Bowser are explored WAY more in the RPG games than in the regular.  Peach we find out is hesitant but willing to help out when she needs to.  She can and will lose her temper at things but always strives to take the path of being nice to everyone because that's what she has chosen to do.  She's also quite a bit naive.  Bowser isn't all that evil.  Sure he has his ambitions that are generally more aligned with evil but when something threatens the whole world including his own people he'll step up and play the part of the hero as well.  He's fairly prideful of his power and ability, not going to stand down to any challenge, and he's not necessarily the brightest of characters.

I'm not saying that we need the Mario game equivalent of a novel to fully explore all of these character developments.  I'm just saying that the main games need to open a door a little bit to the enhancements they have given the characters, especially in the larger 3D games like Galaxy.  Just a few hints, reactions, and scenarios to let us see more into these wonderful character's minds and souls.  Let us know that they aren't just mindless robots doomed to repeat the same actions over and over with the same bland reactions.

My Ideal Mario Game

I've always been told to not complain unless I can provide feedback for a better way to do it.  Though I haven't always followed that advice, in this instance I do have an idea for what to do.  Believe it or not, many of the elements in my idea are already in the Mario series as a whole.  It's more just putting together the best bits and getting rid of the worst bits.  I now present to you my ideal Mario game.

The Plot
There is an ancient and (mostly) forgotten part of Mario's world.  Within a temple holds the eight relics which keep the various realms of the universe in balance.  Their power makes sure the eight realms remain intact regardless of what may happen in a single realm; they must not be disturbed.  An outside force has learned of these relics and intends to throw the universe into chaos in order to set himself up as the ruler in the midst of the confusion.  He finds the eight relics and smashes them to pieces scattering them across the realms.  As he does this, everything turns upside down as aspects, people and locations from various realms start appearing in different parts of the other.  Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Bowser are brought together by an ancient spirit and are tasked with finding the relic pieces and defeating the evil to restore peace to the universe.   Along their journey, they pick up Rosalina and Yoshi and eventually defeat the evil mastermind through their combined efforts.

Characters and Abilities
There would be 6 playable characters each with their own strengths and unique properties that you can swap between at will.  Each will have a special skill that the others do not have in order to progress through the world properly or discover hidden secrets.

Mario - Well Balanced Speed and Strength - Fireball Projectile Attack - Capable of using a Mega Mushroom to move or destroy large objects
Luigi - Increased speed, Decreased Traction, Highest Jump - Fireball Projectile Attack - Capable of using the Poltergust to remove Boos from doorways and treasure chests.
Peach - Decreased Strength and Weight, combo finisher sends enemies flying - Turnip Projectile Attack - Capable of floating over chasms
Bowser - Decreased speed, Double Strength - Fireball Projectile Attack - Capable of using Flame Breath to remove obstacles or melt ice.
Rosalina - Decreased Strength, Increased Speed - Starbit Projectile Attack - Capable of smashing through blocks and barriers with a spin attack.
Yoshi - Flutter Jump - Fireball Spit Attack - Capable of shooting egg projectiles at a targeted area.

This would be a 3D world similar to that of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine which would mean falling out of the world would be at a minimum.  The characters would share a multi-hit health bar among them.  Each character will have the ability to jump on top of enemies heads.  Each character would have their own personalized 3-hit combo of physical attacks they could use against enemies such as Mario doing 3 punches or Bowser doing 2 slashes and a headbutt.  When surrounded by enemies, each character can jump into the air and perform their own version of the ground pound move.  Most importantly, each character would have the ability to block against enemy attacks without taking damage. Power-ups will still be present in the game and are sometimes needed to progress to the end of the level, but they will be treated like badges or switches on the character that can be turned on and off at will.  No more losing your power-up if you are struck by an enemy. 

There would be 8 worlds.  Mushroom Kingdom, Isle Delfino, Yoshi's Island, Luigi's Mansion, The Galaxy, The Past, Koopa Kingdom, and The Forgotten Realm.  Each of the 8 worlds would have 8 levels for you to progress through finding a piece of the relic at the end either by solving a puzzle or defeating a boss who holds the relic piece.  Along your way there will be obstacles and puzzles to solve that only certain characters can accomplish such as a pathway hidden by ice would need Bowser to thaw it.  The Past realm would be our solitary look back to the past as each level would be representative of a different game from Mario's past.  The game would change in tone slightly as it would become 2D side scrolling gameplay for the levels representative of those games (while still having the attacks and health bar just like the rest of the game.)

So there you have it.  That would be my ideal Mario game.  Most of these elements have been done in some form before but not all together in the same game.  It just simply has all of the sub-par elements removed.  I hope you would love to play this game as much as I would although I doubt I'll ever get to see anything like it.


Excuse the long barnyard analogy.   The main Mario series is like a one trick pony.  It does that one trick well; it's mastered that one thing it does better than any other pony attempting it.  However seeing the same trick over and over just gets boring.  Sure you will always want to bring out the old one trick pony every now and then because you still love that little pony, but why on earth would you consistently bring out the one trick pony when there are other horses in the stable that know multiple tricks and are capable of learning new ones all the time?  Perhaps if you were to breed the one trick pony with the multi-trick pony you would get something better than the individual horses.

That's what I've been getting at.  While the RPG Mario games have been mostly flourishing in a vast ocean of originality, the main series has stagnated and congealed.  I truly hope that Nintendo can take some of the brilliance poured into both the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series and put a little bit into the main games.  At the end of the day, I love Nintendo products.  I like Mario but I certainly don't love his stagnation.  I truly want his main series games to come to a point where I choose the new Nintendo System Bundle with the Mario game because I can't wait to play another great Mario title instead of only choosing that bundle because  "eh... it's something to play till Smash comes out I guess."   Mario is capable of greatness and it's my sincere hope that he can once again achieve it.

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness.
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