Sometimes, I just don't get it. Why does it seem like the worse a game is, the more retro throwbacks the game tends to have crammed into it? It's an interesting point really, how the brilliant Donkey Kong Country revival by Retro Studios has exactly two recurring characters, while a fairly mediocre DS game has literally every Mario baddie from the NES and SNES era shoved in somewhere.
So that's what this article is looking at, five middle of the road, completely dull Mario games which somehow have been packed to the brim with neat references to the classic platformers.
It's actually depressing to see how many fan favourite enemies made their twenty year comeback in a game only released in Japan, or that nobody rightly wanted to play.
1. Super Princess Peach
The amount of Mario references in this game, at least enemy wise is unbelievable. It's so much, that instead of an article, have an enormous picture showing every single enemy and character they brought back for this game.
How could you honestly mess up with that massive amount of nostalgic Mario enemies? In either the finished game or the beta, they had pretty much every classic enemy imaginable.
I can tell you this, if this game was a traditional Mario platformer, starring Mario as the main character and with conventional mechanics, this game would have sold millions and been seen as a great of the genre.
2. Mario Party Advance
I don't know why this game was even made, or who thought a single player party game aimed at Waluigious readers would sell more than fifty copies.
Needless to say, the game wasn't well received. The mini games were boring, the single player was a dull mix of board game and RPG, and unfortunately, few buyers cared about the Mario references.
Yeah, those references were the only remotely decent thing about this game, but dear God, there were a lot of them. In some places, it seems like the developers were avid Waluigious readers who somehow dodged the whole 'got to make Mario Party potentially rebrandable as Sonic the Hedgehog/Crash Bandicoot/Wii Party' draconian rules the Hudson overlords placed on them, and put in a whole bunch of classic game shout outs nobody knew about. In Tv Tropes terms, someone was Bored on Board here.
To start off, your host was Tumble from Mario Party 3. Unusual, that's the only time I can ever recall the Mario Party series referencing itself.
Others were more subtle. Goombob was a character from the obvious species... who looked just like the Goombas from Super Mario World.
The Big Bob-omb was now a Mafia don in the Bob-omb Mafia (is there before or other the Pianta Mafia? Do they like each other?)
Salvo the Slime, Lantern Ghost, a Mufti Guy, a Spear Guy, Naval Piranha and Huffin' Puffin all reappeared from Yoshi's Island, as did Poochie as a Gaddget (spelling intentional).
Did I mention Hoot the Owl from Super Mario 64 appears (and has taken up gambling?)
There was even Super Mario Bros 1 music (see the mini game in the below video). I think it might even be the Super Mario 64 remix found in Hazy Maze Cave...
The game was pretty much a gold mine for nostalgia fanatics, but lacked any real sort of fun whatsoever. As the next game also points out, that's not too uncommon on this list...
3. Mario Pinball Land
If there's a way to get everything right bar the gameplay, this game is the poster child for it. It was brilliant in most aspects. Great music (especially for the bosses), Mario references a plenty, and graphics that could have been on the Nintendo 64 or perhaps Gamecube.
Pity it sucked horribly to play, and as Artemendo mentions, controlled about as well flying with Fluzzard when horrifically drunk.
Still, it did have some really good ideas that could have appealed to use hardcore Mario fans if the gameplay was up to scratch. Like the suspiciously like a Culex theme remix used when fighting Tutankoopa... oh wait, King Tut.
Or the Koopatrols found in Bowser's Castle. First and last appearance in 3D, and it was in this piece of ***.
Not to mention the Freezies. Oh, or the Cobrats from Super Mario Bros 2. Poor snake enemies, this really wasn't quite the big break they were hoping for.
The underwater music even sounded like it was from a Sonic the Hedgehog game! Oh wait, bad thing to say on this blog.
4. Itadaki Street DS
This game is probably the definition of wasted songs. For a game which was both not released outside Japan and presumably the video game equivalent of Monopoly, you had some of the best music and Mario references ever devised in the series history.
Super Mario World? It had a rocking remix of the final boss theme. This track could almost be played at a concert, yet instead of using it for Super Mario Galaxy 2 or New Super Mario Bros Wii, Nintendo just let it rot in a game which no one bought.
In a shocking twist no one expected, it even had Super Mario RPG music given a remix. One you'll never hear again because of the complete *** up on Nintendo and Square's part in regards to the ownership of the game. Not a great track like the music for Culex or Forest Maze, but still, ANY Mario RPG reference is basically non existant these days.
Heck, it even used the New Super Mario Bros castle theme! You know, the one half the internet adores as extremely catchy and memorable? This nobody game has a remix of it:
The game was basically a nostalgia lovers dream. It had levels based on Bowser's Castle, Mushroom Kingdom, Isle Delfino, Yoshi's Island and the odd Dragon Quest area, and had music from literally every game imaginable.
Not content with referencing Yoshi's Island the game even remixed the Super Mario Bros 3 ending theme!
Others to go wasted? The Super Mario Sunshine theme. The Yoshi's Island theme. The Bonus theme from Super Mario World! Not to mention, even Mario Kart music got used!
All in all, this game was probably the worst use of good Mario resources in history.
Finally, the award for wasted use of Nintendo DS features goes to...
A Mario Mahjongg game. Yawn.
With online multiplayer and voice chat. What the ***.
Oddly enough, this is the one of the only games in existance as far as I can tell that had Toadsworth as a playable character.
On the flipside, it somehow also had Petey Piranha playing card games. Don't ask that works.
So yeah, five Mario games which had fantastic throwbacks to the classic platformers, yet lacking gameplay and concepts. There are a few I probably missed (Super Mario Advance 4's e-reader cards were another example here, with stuff from all Mario games from Super Mario Bros 1 to Yoshi's Island available), and Paon's Donkey Kong Jungle Climber/King of Swing/Barrel Blast are good examples too, filled with awesome Donkey Kong Country references, but lacking in gameplay.
Random Note of randomness: For a good cameo that I need to mention but couldn't include, note how WarioWare contains the Curious Factory theme in Pyoro:
See 1 minute 9 onwards.
Why doesn't Nintendo throw in this many references in the Mario Galaxy games?