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The Mario Mystique

Raccoon Mario Even though it's all been said before, I'll read anything that attempts to analyze Nintendo's Super Mario and explain just why the stout plumber is so popular.  AMN's Michael Kelly is the latest pundit to toss in his two cents on the matter, summing the character up nicely in just a single paragraph planted in the middle of a two-page editorial.

So why is Mario still popular? Undoubtedly this is in no small part due to the nostalgia factor. Gamers nowadays have grown up with Mario. They’ve seen him evolve as they’ve matured. Mario has gone from a single pixelated sprite to a living, breathing character, with many new adventures and friends to help him. And as he’s evolved we’ve been there for most every step of the way. He’s a companion, a friend who is always there.

I can agree with that.  Mario has grown, yes, but he's consistent.  How many fictional characters are still plugging away twenty years later with fresh adventures that haven't included a radical revamping or two?  The original Mega Man is long gone, Sonic the Hedgehog is all attitude these days, and we get a new incarnation of Link with nearly every Zelda title.   There's plenty of long-running characters full of angst and pain, but Mario is the gaming personification of joy.  He's a constant; a reminder of how things should be in a perfect gaming world.  He's always happy and courageous, and as long as he stays that way then all is right with the real world.  As long as he remains true to that philosophy, he'll always be welcome in my home.