Con-soul Searching

Con-soul Searching: Toad’s Worth

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a great game.  The chaos of the four player coop mode has brought me to tears from laughing so hard.  But I just can’t get past one thing, why are there two toads?  That was the first question that went through my head when the game was first shown at E3.  At the time, I was hoping that the second toad was a place holder and that another character would be in the final release.  As we all know, such is not the case.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Toads.  I think Ala-Gold and Bucken-Berry are awesome names, even if they are just nicknames from the developers.  But it is just too hard to tell the difference between a blue Toad with a Fire Flower and a yellow Toad with an Ice Flower.  I lost track of how many times I died watching the wrong Toad.  Am I the only one that has this problem?  What about a person that is color blind?  I thought Nintendo was trying to make a game that everyone could play together?  I believe they succeeded but the lack of four unique characters seems like such a missed opportunity.

Call me crazy but when I hear the idea of four player Mario I immediately think of Super Mario Bros. 2, a.k.a. “Doki Doki Mario.”  Who did we have there?  Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Toadstool, each character having their own strengths and weaknesses.  It was a fun, new twist on Mario that I figured would work well with New Super Mario Bros. Wii.  I guess the developers didn’t agree.

I heard that Nintendo wanted each character to play the same as the others.  So that throws the unique ability idea out the window but that’s still no reason to have two Toads.  How about a Toad and a Toadette?  It would be nice to have a female character fighting her way to Bowser’s castle with the big boys.  Her slight difference in clothing and the different hair style might not be enough to distinguish between her male counterpart, but it’s a start.  How about Wario and Waluigi?  It doesn’t make any sense with the story but, then again, the story is about as deep as a rain puddle.  For that matter, you could play as Peach.  I know I would trade a plot hole to stomp on Goombas with Princess Toadstool.  If nothing else, at least give me the option to play as Princess Daisy!  I can see it now, Mario, Luigi, Toad and Daisy rolling through the Mushroom Kingdom.  Throwing fire balls at Koopas and twirling in the air with propeller suits.  It would be awesome.  I guess this is a good time to mention that I am a huge Princess Daisy fan.  Seriously, was I the only one disappointed when Luigi saved Peach at the end of Super Mario Galaxy instead of Daisy?

This whole double Toad thing makes me realize how fickle Nintendo has been with its characters lately.  I remember when they first announced Miis.  I figured I would be using my Mii to punch Ganondorf in the face in Smash Bros , to fight for coins in Mario Party and to shoot shells at the leader in Mario Kart.  Well, we got one of those anyway but I thought Nintendo was going to use Miis as a way to let players feel closer to the game they were playing.  Instead they keep them locked in an endless parade with Mario clones and Chuck Norris look-a-likes.  Likewise, Nintendo halted the inclusion of Samus and Link in the Wii version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance.  I would call out Nintendo for being over protective of their characters but then the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series comes to mind.  Nintendo let Sega, the once sworn enemy, make games using Mario’s crew!  That still blows my mind.

If you think about it, Nintendo has a reason to be protective of its characters.  Gamers from my generation all remember the Super Mario Bros. movie.  We all wanted to see it.  We all flocked to the theaters to watch it.  When it was done we all loved it because none of us knew any better at the time.  At least I didn’t.  When I think about that movie now, I cringe.  It is just an amalgam of failed Mario Bros. references that lead you to believe nobody on the set knew what the source material was.  Before you ask, yes, I own the movie on DVD.  It does have Princess Daisy in it after all. Well, there is a character names Daisy and she is supposed to be a princess.  Let’s just move on.

Other huge reasons for Nintendo to be overprotective of their characters are the Mario and Zelda CD-i games.   One would probably be sent to a solitary confinement cell in the basement of Nintendo headquarters if you so much as mention these games on Nintendo property.

Nintendo may be justified in protecting their characters from outside influences, but did they really have to go so far as to put yellow Toad and blue Toad in New Super Mario Bros. Wii?  Maybe they figured two Toads are better than one?  Regardless of what I think, Nintendo will do whatever they want and their games will sell.  Who am I to question Nintendo’s methods?  They have been making games for over twenty years and from what I understand they are quite good at it.  I guess I am just stuck with pretending yellow Toad is Daisy in disguise.

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