Nintendo has been firing on all cylinders with its major properties as of late. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is releasing to rave reviews, Metroid Prime Remastered finally gave fans an enhanced recreation of the classic GameCube game, and The Super Mario Bros. Movie has become one of the most profitable animated movies of all time. Amidst all of this success, however, the Super Mario franchise has been mysteriously absent. The last entry in the series was 2017’s Super Mario Odyssey, and many are wondering when the lovable plumber will receive a new 3D adventure.
Super Mario Odyssey brought Mario and friends into some of the most varied environments the franchise has ever seen, with unique gameplay mechanics to match. It was something uniquely fresh for the Super Mario series, but Nintendo’s next effort might benefit from some familiarity. While the last few Super Mario games have found success in dropping Mario into uncharted territory, the series could find some excitement in reuniting Mario with his oldest foe, Donkey Kong. After the tie-wearing gorilla gave the mustachioed, overalls enthusiast his start, it seems only fitting for the two icons to go on another adventure.
How a New 3D Super Mario Game Could Bring Mario and Donkey Kong Back Together
Donkey Kong’s appearance in The Super Mario Bros. Movie was much more than a cameo, but the banana-loving primate hasn’t received as much love in the gaming space in recent years. While he has made guest appearances in the Mario Party and Mario Kart series, the last original game to bear DK’s name is 2014’s Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. This is a far cry from the character’s past, as the Nintendo 64 era in particular saw Donkey Kong and friends share a sizable portion of the spotlight with Mario, Link, and Kirby.
Though many gamers are more familiar with Mario and Donkey Kong’s feud in the pivotal Donkey Kong arcade game, there have since been efforts to rejoin the two under different circumstances. The Mario vs. Donkey Kong series featured prominently on the GBA and Nintendo DS, recapturing the magic of the original arcade game while injecting some additional creativity courtesy of the DS’ unique touchscreen. As smaller-scale games featured on handhelds like the DS have faded into the background, however, so too has Donkey Kong and Mario’s relationship.
A new 3D Super Mario game could rectify both Donkey Kong’s relegation to a side character role, and the disappearance of his longstanding relationship to Mario. The Super Mario series has been largely focused on taking Mario to new and exciting locations, but it could reunite the plumber and the primate by bringing him to DK’s jungle for some time. Nintendo could surely create some compelling gameplay opportunities out of this setting, whether it reintroduces Super Mario Odyssey‘s Cappy or not. It would also allow for numerous easter eggs, especially if players can interact with every member of the Kong family.
The Super Mario series never would have started without Donkey Kong, making it all the more disheartening that the two characters don’t spend more time with each other. Bowser is no doubt Mario’s most popular antagonist, but the connection DK and Mario share goes back to the very inception of the video game industry. There’s no telling what the next Super Mario game is going to do in terms of gameplay or narrative, but it wouldn’t hurt it if gave just a little bit of the spotlight back to the barrel-throwing, banana-loving gorilla who started it all.
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