The main Super Mario series has always been about platforming. Whether it’s jumping over pits, entering warp pipes as means for transportation, or flying across high altitudes, one has always been able to do these things on their own. Until New Super Mario Bros. Wii broke this constant sequence, by allowing multiple players to enjoy the main game together from the beginning to the very end. It seems like both New Super Mario Bros. 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U will continue this idea along with their own original ideas. As we have witnessed, multiplayer in 2D Mario titles works almost flawlessly. But this is a far cry from something that should have happened quite some time ago. Something for the 3D Mario titles, which has not been taken out for a full spin. Super Mario Galaxy incorporated some multiplayer aspects; however they were rather useless especially since the game itself was easy enough to play without another’s help. Super Mario Galaxy 2 incorporated a similar multiplayer aspect with slightly more depth; though it was nowhere near the same level as it was in the New Super Mario games. So what should a 3D Mario title do, to integrate a multiplayer aspect which far outshines any experience offered from previous Mario titles?
Thus far, no 3D Mario required main game multiplayer to complete anything. Everything could have been done by simply playing with one’s self without needing to rely on another’s skills. What 3D Mario titles need is increased difficulty. It’s something that might require some to seek help from others when one just cannot go through a certain level or defeat a certain boss. Or maybe not just that, complicate the games a bit more. It’s true, Mario titles have almost always been for “Everyone”; however the games arguably have not gotten any harder than the previous 3D Mario titles through a good extent. Keeping this “Everyone” approach doesn’t mean one cannot create a game where certain parts may require players with the better experience to complete. But increasing difficulty for Mario titles is another story. At the very least, include game difficulty settings to truly have these games be really for everyone, where it might require some multiplayer help.
When asking for multiplayer in 3D Mario titles, what does one desire most? One wants the ability to play as another character, whilst using the same controls and movements as one would use in the solo Main Game. What some request, is to travel around the 3D environments together with more than one player, completing Main Game tasks, or even multiplayer-only tasks. With “Accomplishments” possibly being the Wii U’s own version of X-box 360’s Achievements and Playstation 3’s Trophies, there’s plenty of room for content available to the player regarding necessary multiplayer playthroughs. For example, one may require another friend to play with you while you battle a boss, and you must defeat it using a certain technique. Using that technique will then award you an Accomplishment. Heck, these Accomplishments should even be used in single player! These Accomplishments may serve as a good step towards a more involved 3D Mario title, and will aid in improving the replay value.
We would like to have multiplayer in 3D Mario titles, but how would it be? Obviously more than just playing as a random Luma in Super Mario Galaxy 2. This will require the game to not be as linear as the Galaxy titles, as that limits a second player very much. One will need an opened space, freedom, something reminiscent of Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine in order to truly roam around and complete several tasks. The Galaxy titles just didn’t have this large nuance to allow such multiplayer aspects to take place. Now with Wii U, 3D Mario titles can be bigger than ever with the large increase in graphical capabilities being miles ahead of the original Wii architecture. By bigger, I mean it literally. The worlds can be a lot larger; there can be an increased number of enemies, and what’s best, no more excuses for not being able to implement multiplayer. Besides, with one player using the Wii U GamePad and the other using the full HD display, asymmetrical gameplay can show its true might in a beloved franchise.
If allowing a second player to play along in the main game causes problems for development, then go for an alternative. Maybe create a separate Main Game mode for multiplayer, where the entire worlds are modified in a way where multiplayer works in innovative ways. A normal search for the Star for single player may require a player to do several things alone, and in doing so will allow that player access to obtaining the Star. In multiplayer however, make it much more interesting. Here’s an example: if it involves placing an object somewhere in order to open a faraway door or blockade, have one player take that object and walk toward the site, while the other player deals with the enemies in the way. Mario may be super, but carrying a heavy object long distances while avoiding enemies will of course be nearly impossible. This is just an idea; obviously there are tons of ways of implementing multiplayer experiences for this. The people at Nintendo EAD are masters of innovation (arguably) as we have seen in the past, I’m sure they can find a way to insert such a thing into one of their Mario games. Accomplish the unexpected!
So what do you think? Is multiplayer for 3D Mario titles a great idea? Or is such an idea not suited for 3D Mario titles and should stick to simple assisting as we’ve seen from the Galaxy titles?