Video game anniversaries are joyous occasions. They act as an opportunity to reflect on the history of a respectable franchise. Developers often use such events to announce upcoming projects, merchandise, and much more. Nintendo has made a big deal out of several of its anniversaries, especially where Mario is concerned. The 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. saw the Wii re-release of Super Mario All-Stars, while the 30th anniversary saw the launch of Super Mario Maker on Wii U. Most recently, Nintendo has been celebrating the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. in extravagant fashion.
Presumably, Nintendo initially had plans to reveal details of Mario’s 35th anniversary at E3 2020. Unfortunately, the blockbuster video game event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pandemic went on to complicate game development across the industry, resulting in myriad delayed games and delayed announcements. However, that also meant Nintendo became full of surprises this year; it could be an average Tuesday and Nintendo would suddenly announce something out of the blue, whether via a tweet or a Nintendo Direct Mini.
Mario, Mario, and more Mario!
Although the Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct did not occur until September, other exciting things happened. Nintendo partnered up with Lego to release a unique range of Super Mario-themed sets. Additionally, Lego also released an NES set that interacts with the Lego Mario mini-figure.
Levi’s announced a clothing partnership with Nintendo that resulted in assorted clothing apparel. (Plus, Nintendo itself is selling awesome anniversary shirts.) Hasbro also collaborated with Nintendo with Mario Jenga and Monopoly games. The Japanese company was busy getting involved with third-parties to make this one of the biggest celebrations in Nintendo history.
Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan was intended to open for the public this year but was postponed also due to COVID-19. The theme park was supposed to launch alongside the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and would have been included in the ongoing celebrations. Instead, Nintendo has delayed its opening to February 2021, with plans to bring Super Nintendo World to other countries in the coming years.
Of course, the most notable part of the anniversary celebration in the West was Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a collection of Mario’s 3D platforming adventures including Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. Disappointingly, Super Mario Galaxy 2 was not included, a heavily missed opportunity. Many fans including myself hope that Nintendo will release Galaxy 2 at a later date as a standalone title.
Other video game launches include augmented reality experience Mario Kart Live: Home Tour, (earlier in the year) adorable adventure Paper Mario: The Origami King, battle royale Super Mario Bros. 35 via Nintendo Switch Online, and the upcoming upgraded port, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Nintendo also launched Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros., which is a nostalgia trip in a small package.
Overall, the plumber received a ton of love throughout the year. Nintendo NY and the online Nintendo Official UK Store launched some exclusive merchandise as well, so there is seemingly no end to the celebrations. However, there is that one thing that has not made any sense regarding the Super Mario 35th anniversary.
Limited-time releases…. why?
Super Mario 3D All-Stars, the Mario Game & Watch, and Super Mario Bros. 35 are all limited-time releases that will cease to receive physical shipments or be available digitally on March 31, 2021. (Fire Emblem is bizzarely disappearing on this date as well.) The Game & Watch makes sense as it is a limited-edition physical item that will probably become a collector’s piece. My concern lies with the video games. Removing them from sale makes no sense. In the case of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, it will cause prices to drastically increase on eBay and cause a ton of consumers to miss out.
Super Mario Bros. 35 is a free game that many Nintendo Switch Online users are enjoying. It makes the membership even more worthwhile and is a genuinely fun take on the classic Mario formula. Nintendo doesn’t really lose anything by keeping it online, and Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser has only offered a weak explanation of why it’s happening, essentially saying it’s all in the spirit of “celebration.” I understand that Nintendo is trying to create some buzz surrounding the Super Mario series, but all it’s really doing is causing a sense of urgency. That seems to have worked to an extent, as Super Mario 3D All-Stars sold extremely well in both preorder and general sales.
Fans cannot see Nintendo completely abandoning these titles and believe that it will probably start selling the titles in 3D All-Stars separately for a premium price point. Meanwhile, the future is uncertain for Super Mario Bros. 35, but I hope it continues to thrive somehow, some way.
Was it a good anniversary?
On one hand, Nintendo has treated the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. to a grand celebration worthy of the plumber. On the other hand, Nintendo should reconsider its decision to remove Super Mario 3D All-Stars from sale. It should also keep Super Mario Bros. 35 servers online, as it is provides more substance to its online service. All the negativity aside though, Mario definitely received a ton of love this year, and I hope to see the same for other Nintendo franchises.
2021: The year of celebration
2021 is probably one of the biggest years for Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda‘s 35th anniversary, Pokémon‘s 25th anniversary, Metroid‘s 35th anniversary, and Donkey Kong‘s 40th anniversary will all be taking place next year. There are a ton of rumors and speculation being thrown around at the moment, so it will be interesting to see what Nintendo’s plans are. I hope that each franchise gets a similar sort of celebration without the dumb nature of limited-time releases. If a Zelda collection launches next year and is a timed exclusive, I’ll admittedly be purchasing 10 of them.
What are your thoughts on the 35th anniversary of Mario, and what would you like to see next year?