Forget its glasses-free 3D, the Nintendo 3DS is unlike any Nintendo video game before it because it will debut without Mario or Luigi. The previous nine major gaming machines from Nintendo — all of the big ones, from NES to Wii — had these guys.
The Mario-shaped hole emerged today when Nintendo released its 3DS gaming launch line-up for the U.S. Scheduled for launch day on March 27, there was Pilotwings: Resort, a flying game that doesn't star Mario. There was Steel Diver, a game about submarines, not plumbers. There was Nintendogs + Cats ( - Mario - Luigi).
Nintendo usually doesn't keep Mario from us. He (or Luigi!) has starred in a game that has launched each of the nine main gaming machines ever produced by the company.
Here's the list, console name on the left, U.S. launch-day Mario-related game on the right.
• Nintendo Entertainment System - Super Mario Bros. (technically out about a month or so after the NES' initial limited-release launch but considered a launch game by the time the system was released widely)
• Super NES - Super Mario World
• Gameboy - Super Mario Land
• Nintendo 64 -Super Mario 64
• Virtual Boy - Mario's Tennis
• Game Boy Advance - Super Mario Advance
• GameCube - Luigi's Mansion
• Nintendo DS - Super Mario 64 DS
• Wii - ... [This system launched with a Zelda game, not a Mario game, though Super Mario 64 was made available for download to the Wii on day one.]
Sure, there were other hardware spin-offs in between, but why count the GBA SP or the DSi like it was a brand-new system? They weren't. The above all were, and they all had Mario Mario or Luigi Mario in a lead role.
Nintendo had a chance of keeping their Mario Bros. streak alive, had they launched their new 3DS game-download eShop alongside the 3DS. Maybe they could have offered a downloadable copy of Super Mario Land or some other Mario Game Boy title. The eShop, however, won't be activated until May.
No wonder Nintendo is promising a 3DS Mario Kart by year's end.