Mario is just about the most iconic and recognizable gaming character of all time. He’s appeared in hundreds of video games, is known the world over for his trademark hat and mustache, and even starred in a few so-so TV shows (and some pretty terrible movies). But despite all of Mario’s incredible accomplishments as a gaming character, it seems there’s one block this hero just can’t bust: the mobile market.
Nintendo has tried twice now to get Mario to take off in the mobile arena – first with Super Mario Run and then with Dr. Mario World. But while there’s undeniably something fun about being able to play a Mario game on a smartphone at all, both games were met with tepid receptions at best. And considering the disappointing previews for Mario Kart Tour, it’s not looking like the third attempt will be much more successful.
So is there any way for Nintendo to make Mario the hit he ought to be on mobile? Only the company itself can answer. But we have some ideas that would seem likely to work out.
Mario Party Mobile
With Mario Kart Tour on the way, we’re seeing one of Mario’s biggest multiplayer sub-series hit mobile phones – but as implied above, the jury is out on its quality at the moment. Given this, we think Mario’s other multiplayer series may ultimately be the better fit for the medium. Mobile phones are rife with multiplayer competition titles; games like Words With Friends remain wildly popular for a reason, which is, in the simplest terms, that people like competing against other people they know! This is really the main thing Mario Kart Tour has going for it also, but if Nintendo were also to develop Mario Party’s legendary friendship-ruining competition for mobile, the results might just be tremendously popular.
Super Mario Poker
With all the different hobbies and sports Mario’s taken part in over the years, it’s honestly a surprise that he’s never jumped in on the popular world of gambling and card games. Now would be the time though, with such games in their pure form having amassed a bigger player base than ever before. Today’s live-dealer casino sites, based largely in Canada and the UK, have essentially perfected digital imitations of real-world card tables. That doesn’t mean a Mario game would look or feel the same way, but it does mean it might be able to take advantage of two massive audiences at once: Mario fans and casino gamers. This would be a tamer experience though, in which you could simply play card games with and against classic Mario-related characters.
Mario Maker On the Go
One of Mario’s more recent entries, Super Mario Maker 2, has seen huge success and spawned a booming community of its own due to its in-depth creation software. This software gives players the opportunity to create their own levels and enjoy those created by others. And one way to take this concept to the next level would be to essentially integrate the same features with a mobile app. Connecting your Nintendo Switch account to your phone, you could create a level while on the go, save it, then test and play it later on your Switch at home. You could even queue up downloads of levels you’d like to play while browsing. It’s more of a utility than a full game in itself, but it’s still a concept that’s begging for development.
Mario in AR
Niantic pioneered it with Pokémon Go; Harry Potter just got on board with Wizards Unite. And Minecraft is on its way with Earth. It’s time Mario tightened up his overalls and started looking to what many are claiming will be the future of mobile games: augmented reality. Concepts for Mario AR are just about as numerous as the characters themselves. Nintendo could go the Pokémon route, allowing for the collection of Mario characters and baddies from across the series. Or we could see Mario Maker take center stage in similar fashion to Minecraft World. Knowing Nintendo though, it’s likely to pull out something entirely new and unexpected, if and when it does go the AR route.