I Went Saucy In My Panties
I'm sick of Cameo Games.
No, I'm really, really, sick of them.
It seems like every other Donkey Kong Universe game that's released is another Cameo Game (a game, usually starring Mario, that centers around competition between different mascot characters in various events). It's getting to the point where they're becoming so repetitive and tiring that you'd think the folks making them are either very uncreative, or just plain lazy. The first DKU Cameo Game, Mario Kart 64, was a fantastic work of art. It was simple, and not revolutionary, but it was just designed in such a way that it was fun, and still has replay value today. I look forward to the Gameboy Advance and (possible) GAMECUBE versions because of it.
The next Cameo Game that was unveiled came out nearly three years later. Mario Party was another good game with an original premise (that of a board game adventure), and featured the cast of Mario Kart 64 (minus Toad, who was put in a supporting role). The main draw of the game was its multi-player capability, but it wasn't half bad as a single player adventure either. It had looked like Nintendo (along with developer Hudson Soft) had found another franchise that they could bring to new consoles as the years went by. Originally, I had hoped this would be the case.
A few months after Mario Party, we got another addicting game that was, quite possibly, a dream come true. Super Smash Bros. finally pitted the many mascots of Nintendo (Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, etc.) against each other in a tournament fighter game like none other. Developer HAL had created a simple fighting system that would prove easy to play, but difficult to put down. The success of the "Mario competition" games (which is probably closer to what Nintendo thinks of them, as they don't view them as part of the Donkey Kong series) may have got Nintendo's head spinning a little too fast, and as we've seen from Pokemon, once they get an idea that sells, they won't let up until they've milked it for every penny its got...
Shortly before Donkey Kong 64 stormed North America, Nintendo released Mario Golf for the N64. It was fantastic, sure, but by this point things were getting a little weary. This was the fourth Cameo Game in three and a half years, and while they were fun, the novelty of having Mario and his friends trying to beat each other (huh huh...I said "beat each other") was starting to grow very thin. Two months later the Game Boy Color equivalent of Mario Golf came out, and it featured an RPG-like style of gameplay that was very fun and very rewarding. It was different to boot, and the change in pace for this Cameo Game (it wasn't all about competing with Mario-related characters, and actually had a small storyline) was appreciated greatly.
A few months passed, and we got Mario Party 2, which was released less than a year after the original. By this point, the general feeling among fans was that the competiton theme was starting to grow old, and if not in general, then at least the board game style that the Mario Party series presented. Mario Party 2 was a fantastic game, but it was too much like the original. Plus, there wasn't enough justification to release a sequel to a game like Mario Party 11 months after the original, because people were still playing it. Granted, the DKC games were all released on an annual basis, but it was a different genre that provided more room for sequels, and the people were demanding them. Mario Party 2 would have been justified if they made enough changes to the concept that the original game presented, but they didn't.
One year after Mario Golf, we got Mario Tennis. When I first played the game, I thought it was a little slice of heaven. It was fun, addicting, and even went the extra mile, introducing a new character to the Mario/DKU mythos (Waluigi). It wasn't until I spent a few weeks with the game that I realized how it had NO REPLAY VALUE. Even the multi-player got old after awhile, but that's mainly because there's only so much you can do with tennis. The problem is, the designers felt that in order to beat the game, you had to beat it with every character, which proved to be quite a chore. I don't want to have anything to do with the game now, simply because it bores me stiff (huh huh...I said "stiff"). In my opinion, this is the current problem with the Cameo Games.
Mario Party 3 is going to be coming out in North America in a few months. That's right, Mario Party 3. They're doing it again. What's worse, there are rumors that Mario Party 4 is already being planned for GAMECUBE. While they are adding some new features to MP3, it just doesn't look like enough to warrant yet another new game this soon after the second one. Since I've already played both MP and MP2 to death, I know exactly what will happen with the third one, and it's the same thing that happened with Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 (I haven't purchased the GBC version yet, which from the looks of things is Mario Golf for Game Boy Color, only with tennis). I'll play it for a few weeks, and then want to drive a railroad spike through the cartridge. These frequent, tedious, and repetitive Cameo Games are seriously watering down the DKU, and that's okay, because we choose to include them in what we consider the DKU to be. However, they're also watering down the Mario series. Whenever I think of Mario games now, I don't think of Super Mario Bros. 2 or Super Mario World. I think of the piss-poor Mario Tennis, and how piss-poor Mario Party 3 will be. I want to see Mario in an adventure, not on a tennis court. I want to see him battling the forces of evil, not whacking around balls (huh huh...I said "whacking around balls"). Cameo Games can work though. Like I said earlier in my rant, I'm looking forward to new additions to the Mario Kart series. I'm also looking forward to a new SSB game, if/when HAL and Nintendo are kind enough to give us one.
The keys to making these Cameo Games is MODERATION and VARIETY. If they only released one Mario Party game per system like they're seemingly doing with the Mario Karts, then I would actually be looking forward to the next one. If they would have spiced up Mario Tennis, or made the game smaller to give the illusion that there's more to it than just the same thing over and over again, then I would want to play Mario Tennis right now. Until Nintendo and the companies it gets to make these entries into the Mario/DKU histroy books realize this...
...well, I'll just have to complain some more.
A Slush "Joint"