No matter how you look at it, Mario is the king of gaming. The two most revolutionary video games of all time are from the series. Super Mario Bros. helped save the video game industry in the '80s, and forever changed how side-scrolling platformers were made. Then Super Mario 64 released in 1996, and ignited 3D gaming as we know it today. Every time a new Mario title is announced, people listen. Super Mario Odyssey was massively successful when it launched in 2017, and most recently, Super Mario Maker 2 has quickly become one of 2019's most notable games. Mario is the video game icon, but where can or can't he go from here?
The Future Of 2D Mario
Super Mario Maker 2 is one of the most unique games on the market. Building upon its predecessor, Super Mario Maker 2 features a wealth of tools to enable fans to create their own Mario levels. From traditional to puzzle, there are all sorts of levels from the over two million that have been uploaded. In this way, Super Mario Maker 2 has the 2D side of things covered. Players can even recreate some of their favorite levels from past Mario titles.
Super Mario Maker 2 doesn't necessarily replace 2D Mario games from Nintendo. However, Nintendo will not likely release another 2D Mario platformer for years. (It's already been six years since the last one, not counting Super Mario Run or the first Super Mario Maker.) There are so many great levels being made in Super Mario Maker 2, Nintendo probably doesn't see a point in making another 2D title. This reasoning does make sense for the time being. If Nintendo were to go one step further and add an overworld map for Super Mario Maker 2, that would likely put the nail in the coffin for 2D Mario for the next 10 years. Even without the map, 2D Mario is likely done for awhile thanks to the ongoing fan support for Super Mario Maker 2.
The Future Of 3D Mario
Mario platforming in the 3D realm is something only Nintendo can do. Each 3D Mario game has been acclaimed, from Super Mario 64 to Super Mario Odyssey. Super Galaxy 1 & 2 were the Wii's finest games, and of course, Super Mario Sunshine is the most unique of them all. Although Super Mario 3D World was standard in comparison to the other titles here, Mario's standard still equates to fantastic. With Mario traveling across planets and journeying through New Donk City, what could be next for the hero?
Super Mario Odyssey was something of a tribute game, while still being wholly unique. It captured the design of Super Mario 64, which many longtime fans loved. Of course, the 2D sections and the festival captured the magic of Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong respectively. This kind of nostalgia trip is not likely to be recreated as much in the next game.
Nintendo could remaster Super Mario Galaxy and port over Super Mario 3D World to Switch, but the company can't rely on ports for long. Fans are going to be expecting the next 3D Mario installment soon. Of course, "Super Mario Odyssey 2" is a popular theory. After all, if The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can get a sequel, there's no reason why Odyssey can't. However, the way Odyssey plays out truly feels like a one-time deal. Plus, Nintendo can't get away with telling the same story twice as it did with Super Mario Galaxy 2.
Instead, if there's going to be sequel, Nintendo could do "Super Mario Sunshine 2." Super Mario Sunshine has plenty of nostalgia going for it. Not everyone loved how Sunshine played, but if Nintendo utilizes what fans loved in Odyssey, a great combination can happen. Fans have also been waiting for years to see what Il Piantissimo did with Shadow Mario's Paintbrush.
No Matter What, Expect Quality
Mario is associated with quality gaming. Some of the greatest games ever made are Mario titles. For now, the future of 2D Mario is in Super Mario Maker 2. This game allows players to imagine and then build their own Mario levels, thus making a new 2D Mario game almost irrelevant at the moment. It's hard to say where 3D Mario platforming will go. It probably won't be as Super Mario 64 nostalgia-fueled as Odyssey. If it does go for nostalgia, it very well could target Super Mario Sunshine. No matter what, when the next Mario games does come, it will almost definitely exceed expectations.