[Ed. Note: The following is an outgrowth of
my semi-regular correspondence with the author -- more specifically, of his
expressed belief that Super Mario Bros. was "bastardized" when recreated for
Game Boy Color.]
Now, we all known that Mario is an icon. Granted, he may or may not be as well-known as Mickey Mouse, but that doesn't matter. He's a working-class schmuck who has a propensity toward getting in really bombastic situations. The protagonists, albeit the namesake for, the Super Mario Bros. series were Mario and Luigi. What's so super about them, any way? Can they fly like SuperMan? No, in fact, they were the most vulnerable characters ever created in videgamedom. So, why were they famous? What of the Marios, Mario in particulair, makes these two losers more important than say, Arnold Scwarzeneger? Wait, let me start over.
Why do I, personally revere Super Mario Bros. more than any other game, regardless of how powerful the hardware backing it is. The level design for one. Over the years, through experience, I've learned almost everything there is to know about it. I know where the warp zones are. Sure, the first time I ever beat any of the games was Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES, but that isn't the point. I would have happily bought that particulair compilation purely for the nostalgia value alone. No embellishment required. Yet, in order to make it marketable, Nintendo had to upgrade its presentation somewhat. However, this forced me to re-learn it to some extent. Prime example, level 1-1: that one-up. Scroll the screen over to the right until the one pipe is on the extreme left. Stand to the left of the hill in the background, jump straight up to hit an invisible block, grab the one-up, and then go down the pipe. However, in the upgraded SMB, that hill is now an independently scrolling part of the background, so you'll have find another way to capture the one-up. Perhaps counting your steps? Another example is 8-2: There's one block which blends into the background. The area surrounding that block is false. It would be easy to miss it. Yet, in the upgrade, any idiot could distinguish it. SMB was a good game. The reason why wasn't because of who the protagonist was. But because overall, playing it was a pleasureable experience. Yet, if you buy a license to put Shaq in a video game, then allow the game itself to be a sub-standarded piece of crap, you aren't doing your job. Sure, people may buy it on false hype alone, but they sure won't recommend it to a friend. Witness EGM's dispute with Acclaim over Total Recall.
Quality matters. Hype doesn't cut it. So, in that regard, how do you bastardize a good game? By intentionally compromising its quality, tossing on a million bits of extraneous crap that weren't part of the original and sticking them in people's faces with the claim that you have "improved" the game.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Yet, in the same regard, if it is broken, "put it out of its misery." It works for old-time equestrians...
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