There’s a lot of buzz about the new “open world” Zelda these days, but Zelda isn’t the only Nintendo franchise that could pull it off. Mario is perfectly suited for an open world adventure. Not only that, but an open world Mario would be one of the most interesting worlds to have adventures in. It would be unique among open world games.
WE ALREADY HAVE THE MAPS
The ground work for the world’s geography is already there. Stage select screens from previous Mario games would give Nintendo a wealth of material to work with. We know there are several continents and multiple kingdoms in the world, Super Mario Bros. 3 references in Super Mario World set a precedent for their worlds being in the same universe, leading to a large world indeed.
World building? Mario Kart provides insight into the parts of Mario’s world we never see. For example, Bowser’s an oil tycoon (“Bowser Oil” is a thing in Mario Kart 8), explaining how he can afford to employ vast armies of Koopas and where he gets the resources for all those castles Mario destroys. A lot of things in Mario Kart 8 flesh out an already interesting world.
The ways to get around the world would also be fun and quirky. Capes, Yoshis, warp pipes, magical paintings, dolphins, karts, etc could all play a role in getting around a gigantic world and take away from some of the lamer aspects of open world adventures, namely the time investment needed to go around the world and the monotony of standard vehicles and horses. These things are all familiar to Mario, helping to facilitate goal-oriented, pick up and play gaming in an open world setting without breaking immersion like a normal quick travel method would.
ART STYLE TRUMPS GRAPHICAL POWER
Since the Gamecube, Nintendo’s art direction has always made the most out of its less powerful hardware. A brightly colored open world in Mario style should be a lot less graphics intensive than something like Watch Dogs. It’s not even a compromise because Mario has never tried to look like a photo-realistic human being. It could actually benefit from the novelty of the art style in the open world genre.
A move like this has pretty massive draws to it. Who isn’t familiar to some degree with the mushroom kingdom? The chance to freely roam the Mushroom Kingdom as we please is probably one of the most enticing things Nintendo can do with Mario now. Super Mario 3D World was an amazing game no matter how you cut it, but it exemplifies a complaint some fans have about Mario games: They’ve simply become too linear compared to Super Mario 64.
It would be amazing to travel all over the Mario world pocketing coins, finding stars, and thwarting random acts of Bowser before donning a cape and flying off into the sunset. No one could say it was just more of the same from Nintendo. An open world based on platforming sounds like a dream come true to this plebe.