Multiplayer has always been a major element of the Nintendo success story. Where most home consoles offered a paltry two control slots, Ninty broke the mould with four. When other studios stopped offering local play as standard, big N bucked the trend with its floor-filling, family gathering Wii.
Names like Goldeneye, Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and Donkey Konga have come to epitomize the Nintendo approach to multiplayer, as one in which gloating opponents are never truly out of (playful) punching distance. Unfortunately for the folks over at Nintendo, “the times they are a-changing” and the level of network connectivity now expected of every new title is sorely lacking in the company’s stock.
With Super Mario 3D World – Nintendo’s biggest brand – currently doing wonders for the beleaguered Wii U, it’s surprising to think that this of all titles was developed without online play in mind – something that’s been missing from other key Wii U titles. Addressing this absence back in November, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto told Kotaku:
“While online play is certainly technically possible for us, it simply wasn’t the focus for us this time around. What we really wanted to do was to create something that people could experience fully while playing comfortably with others who were nearby them…this question might change in ten years time, if there’s a future game where for example we don’t think it’s important to be able to see the face of the person you’re playing with.”
Now, the game’s producer Yoshiaki Koizumi, has added his voice to the discussion, confirming Mr. Miyamoto’s initial comments as part of an in-depth Game Informer interview. Koizumi explained:
“We’ve been testing online multiplayer since the days of Super Mario Galaxy, but with this title we really wanted to deliver an experience that you can share with family, friends, or your boyfriend or girlfriend in the same place like you did with the original NES. We really want players to have fun in front of the TV, talking while they help each other out or get in each other’s way.”
While Koizumi’s reference to the original NES console certainly dates the idea of local play, it also ties in with the widely held notion of Nintendo as a traditional family brand, favoring social experiences over lone gaming sessions. Of course, it’s also easy to see these comments as part of a calculated “spin” campaign — an attempt by Nintendo to cover their lack of online infrastructure by objecting to the faceless nature of Internet play. Why else, fans might ask, would a company investigating the potential of network gaming since 2007 (Galaxy‘s release) still refuse to implement such mechanics today?
Is online multiplayer the missing piece in the Mario puzzle or an unnecessary add-on? Should Nintendo get with the times or stick to its guns? Have your say in the comments below, and be sure to check in with all of the latest Nintendo news, right here on Game Rant.
Super Mario 3D World is now available for the Nintendo Wii U.
Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.