(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the March 15, 2006 issue of GameCola, back when GameCola was published in a bi-monthly online magazine format.)
College Park, MD 20740
March 15, 2006
You know what makes Mario Kart a good series? There’s only five of them. Mario Kart doesn’t milk its franchise for all it’s worth. Mario Kart doesn’t come out with a new title every year, with virtually no changes aside from a few new characters and maybe a new track. Mario Kart makes its launches meaningful, and each Mario Kart clearly has some effort put into it.
You can’t say the same for so many other series out there. Especially sports games, who seemingly only change the names and stats of their players before calling it a new title. Even games about pro-wrestling—which is only a sport inasmuch as an announcer being anally raped, a referee killing himself, and a chairman parading around in his underwear can be considered sportsman-like conduct—even pro-wrestling has fallen into the habit of one-title-a-year, which is why pro-wrestling games haven’t been any good since No Mercy on N64. (I limit myself to one new pro-wrestling game every two-to-three years, because it takes that many new games for something new or interesting to actually come about.)
I cringe when I see developers talking about new franchises, because I know what those new franchises will mean. They won’t mean one or two decent games; they’ll mean 16 sub-par platformers, a few even worse kart-racers, and maybe a movie tie-in directed by someone whose idea of a great movie is one that stars Tara Reid as a genius scientist. Developers aren’t looking to make great games with these series; they’re looking to make great bucks, though that’s news to no one.
Didn’t developers used to be proud of their work? I’ve only been writing about games for about four years now, so maybe I missed out on something. I thought developers wanted to make something they could be proud of. I though developers actually wanted to be developers, and not people who just happen to make games. How can you be proud of publishing the same friggin’ game every friggin’ year? Where’s the talent involved in that?
I learned of this great company just the other day, one called Destination Software Inc. DSI has been around since 2001, and, so far as I can tell at least, they haven’t made a single original title yet. They’ve made over 40 games, but they haven’t made a single original title yet. Their library consists of ported arcade games from the 80s, board games translated into videogames, and GBA versions of games that were successful on the big-people consoles. Why do people like that even become developers? What’s the point? Why aren’t they doing something with their lives that they might enjoy? I can’t imagine hunting for that elusive board game that hasn’t been ported to a handheld in the past three months is a good time.
Mario Kart gets it right. The people behind Mario Kart put a lot of effort into the game, and they work hard to make sure each new iteration actually adds something to the series. Sometimes it doesn’t work out (Double Dash), and sometimes the differences aren’t that super amazing (Super Circuit), but at least the effort’s there. Nintendo’s gonna keep getting my money because of that. I can’t say the same for EA Games, which hasn’t done anything original since way back when Nickelodeon had decent programming, and I especially can’t say the same for DSI.
editor in chief
P.S. The “Holy Crap Please Give us a New Logo” contest rages on! If you’re interested in making a logo but aren’t sure where to start, consider this:
It’s a design crafted by GameCola’s own Elizabeth Medina-Gray. Use it as a sample, or as a template, or as a step in the right direction. Use it however you see fit.