Running With An Idea
There’s a difference between flogging an intellectual property until everyone hates it, and having an idea that just keeps getting bigger until you can’t slow down.
The obvious example of the former, with each successive console supporting several new Mario titles in some form or another, either as the featured attraction or simply making a celebrity appearance such as in Smash Bros. or randomly showing his face in a Legend of Zelda game. The original format is spectacular, and it’s great that’s it’s maintained such a legacy, but there’s no denying that the squat italian is overstaying his welcome a little. Ever notice that you hardly ever see anything with Mickey Mouse as the main character these days? Disney knows when to retire a character better than Nintendo do.
Mario has had some variety, and is quick to pick up the best adaptions the platforming genre picks up as time goes on (where Sonic has rather failed), so it’s not to say that he’s grown stale over the years. He’s become the staple, the go-to, and while Nintedo’s catalogue grows ever wider there’s no denying that between the quantity, fluctuating quality, and exposure of Mario that they’re hitting a certain infuriating saturation point.
But they’ll keep Mario alive while the name and sexy, sexy moustache are still bringing in the money. While it’s nice that a new generation also get to experience the joys of stomping mushrooms and dragon-turtles to death, they’ll also get to experience getting sick of it like the rest of us…
Let me hold that up against another, more recent IP that’s seems to have overrun the market.
Maybe this is a huge cash-cow for Ubisoft, but at its core you can practically hear the echoes of the original conversation. Constantly reincarnating as an assassin working for the same order throughout history, appearing in every major culture as a pivotal figure in the ongoing war between the Templar and the Creed, a storyline that spans lifetimes, just the thought of that could spawn so many ideas, most of which you’d never be able to tie to a single narrative arc.
The story of Desmond Miles may be long over, but the nature of the idea still has a lot to offer. Taking the same raw concept and plunging it into the greatest civilizations of the world at their height creates stories almost organically, even if at times certain historical figures are shoehorned into place. With the recent addition of the Chronicles series that detail the stories of the lesser players in the many lives of the serial assassin, it’s given the creators chance to really delve deeper into that episodic narrative that their big-budget features wouldn’t normally allow.
And maybe some of us are sick of seeing it, to be honest the gameplay never gripped me but the concept I enjoy thoroughly. There are places where the zeal of the publisher shines through and the rushed titles suffer a little much like poor old Mario, but there’s still places where genuine warmth and affection for the core design and idea still resonates.
I’m not saying there’s not still love in the world for the old and overdone titles, least of all in the studios creating the games in question. Pokémon and Zelda both show profound love for the basic concept in (almost) every title. By comparison the Sims is eternally run out of the box like it’s fresh and new, and it’s just the same thing with a fresh coat of mesh, the title is a boundless well for random DLC concepts.
Love for a title shines through no matter how old that title becomes, and an idea that sparks in the head of one person that catches real fire can spread to other people, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. I’m sure most of you have had that one idea that doesn’t let you go until you’ve seen it to its eventual conclusion – or burn out, and know the thrills it can bring to see those ideas come to life. Now imagine you have a Triple-A budget behind that idea.
What a life that must be.