I was asking him his thoughts on how I should approach my all-time favorite character and series when it came to doing something for this blog. Of course I'm talking about Mario, and honestly, you all should thank him for talking me out of doing something completely insane that was a sure-fire way to scare off all my readers. I was trying to convince him that my idea of doing a "Month Of..." series for Mario would be a fantastic way to pay homage to the humble little plumber that made me fall in love with video games in the first place. Thankfully, he set me straight and made me realize how ridiculous that was, and while there would be plenty of games to fill that month, no one in their right mind would want to read about that much Mario. It was just simply too much.
So with that, a week of Mario spin-offs was born. Sure, I could write about all the awesome Mario platforming games, but that's almost too obvious and expected. I have to keep you all, my dear readers, guessing and never to the point where you know which direction my next blog post will come from. What better way than to throw a curve ball at you with "The Curious Week Of... Mario."
I called it that because in all of Mario's spin-off games, he isn't the same Mario you know and love. He isn't performing his normal day job of being a plumber, nor is he in constant quest of finding and rescuing the princess. No, sometimes Mario just likes to be different, shake it up a bit and buck the norm. He's kind of a restless soul, when you think about it.
The first game in this week is Wrecking Crew, which was a launch day game for the original Nintendo Entertainment Center along side 17 other games, including Super Mario Bros. Yes, even back then, day-one launch titles were a big deal. Maybe not as big as they are now, but it was clear that without games to push, it would hard to sell a console. Sometimes I wonder how Nintendo forgot about this way of thinking, but I digress.
In Wrecking Crew, you play as Mario of course, but instead of his normal plumber occupation, he plays the role of a one-man wrecking crew. Literally. His job is to demolish the structures set before him, as quickly and efficiently as possible. All he has is a hammer, which he wields like the mighty Thor, destroying blocks, bricks, ladders and bombs while trying to evade the weird creatures sent to make his life miserable. It is a strategy based game, where you need to plan your next move before you make it, because if you destroy a ladder prematurely, you could essentially make completing the level impossible.
The game just continues as well, going from level to level, with bonus levels sprinkled in, asking you to find a coin in a block before the mysterious foreman finds it first. There is speculation that this was the original idea behind Wario, although nothing is confirmed, of course. It if a fun game, that while not very deep or rich in story, makes up for in tense action. OK, that might be a bit of an over exaggeration, but regardless, it's fun for what it is, and I'm sure it was fun back in the day. Unfortunately it probably got lost in the mix among the line-up consisting of Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, Ice Climbers and Excitebike, to name a few.
Speaking of console launches, when Nintendo launched the 3DS, it had zero games that people actually wanted to play. There were a few that were serviceable, but most people bought the games because they felt like they needed to play something on it in order to justify getting one, day one. Eventually, people became very vocal about feeling ripped off by the 3DS, and Nintendo heard loud and clear. Of course, the system wasn't selling, so the talking people did was with their wallets, which is apparently the best way to be heard by big business. Anyway, Nintendo got the message and did all that they could to ease the pain of a price drop of the system less than a year later, as telling people who spent the original full price that the price drop was happening was not an easy thing to do. To smooth things over, they created the Ambassador Club, where all the early adopters of the handheld console were rewarded with 20 free games from the eShop Virtual Console; 10 NES games and 10 Game Boy Advance games.
One of these games was Wrecking Crew, which is how I was able to play it, just in case you were wondering. Apparently Nintendo does learn from its mistakes after all, sometimes.