Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Because Americans Are Retards"

I haven't been following E3 that much. I'd complain that Nintendo continues to disappoint (let's make our hardware ridiculous to cover up that we're re-releasing a 15 year old game due to a lack of creativity!), but they always do. And I'm not sure Microsoft was even there.

So instead, I was reading Doctor Sparkle's (the Chrontendo guy) revisionist history of Super Mario Bros. 2. The traditional story about SMB2 was that the Japanese SMB sequel showed up in the Nintendo of America offices and was declared too hard for stupid American gamers. Then an idea was hit upon to take a game, Doki Doki Panic, and swap out the character sprites for Mario Bros. characters. And we'd all be none the wiser because Americans are retards.

Doctor Sparkle took issue with that theory. First, the development team for Doki Doki Panic was effectively the development team for Super Mario Bros. So the game had that pedigree to its name. And secondly, a heavy dose of the game's characters were instantly added to Mario Bros. canon (such as it is), giving us Bob-ombs, Shy Guys, and Birdo. If you doubt the canon thing is an issue, look what Sega did to Sonic the Hedgehog. They had a kind of split-canon where America and Japan had entirely different stories for the games. Then when technology meant that much of the story was in-game rather than in-manual, they effectively declared the American canon invalid. Despite the traditional story about SMB2, Mario never had this split-canon issue.

Chrontendo has linked to a recently released interview that adds greater weight to the idea that Japan was already planning to embrace the American SMB2 as a canonical Mario Bros. game. The original prototype that would become Doki Doki Panic was originally designed as "Super Mario, except vertical." Seriously, SMB2 was a lot of climbing and directed falling. In fact, the games horizontal sections were added at the request of Miyamoto specifically to make the game more Mario-esque. The game was, by design, aggressively Mario. Then Fuji TV cut a deal with Nintendo to release a game as part of this big hoopla they were doing. This aggressively Mario game was still using placeholders for the player-characters, so Fuji TV's mascots of the year were tossed in. Nintendo of Japan had already designed the game to be Mario-esque and, tying in with Doctor Sparkle's original theory, they couldn't hope to sell Fuji TV mascots to an American audience. Fuji TV may have owned the characters, but Nintendo owned the game. So sprite swap the characters and congratulations, instant best-seller. So yeah, everything you knew was wrong.

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