The marathon of Mario-related news just keeps on coming. Nintendo has pulled out all the stops to make their mascot’s 35th anniversary one to remember, despite the affects of the ongoing worldwide pandemic.
Indeed, while many of Nintendo’s plans for their plucky plumber have been delayed, like the opening of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, the company has still been able to announce a flood of new Mario games and merchandise in celebration of his birthday.
Yet there’s still one Mario project that fans have heard surprisingly little about: his upcoming full-length animated movie.
So far the only things we know is that Nintendo has partnered with Illumination of Despicable Me and Minions fame to bring Mario to the big screen and that the project has apparently been unaffected by coronavirus lockdowns as production of the film hasn’t been delayed so far.
Of course, having a 2022 release date probably doesn’t hurt in giving it an extra cushion of time to be completed.
Beyond that, we have no idea what to expect from Mario’s first animated film. No idea about the casting of voices, and whether veteran Mario voice actor Charles Martinet will reprise his role of the titular hero. Or whether there will even be any speaking at all, since Mario and his friends aren’t known for talking much as it is.
We haven’t seen any concept art or received any clues about plot details either. Although we do know Shigeru Miyamoto is deeply involved in the creative process of the film, so that’s a relief – yet we also know Miyamoto is not a fan of expanding Mario lore or giving Mario games any deep story. It’ll be interesting to see what he plans to do with a 90 minute running time then.
Miyamoto has directed and produced several delightful animated Pikmin shorts which have given us an idea of how his creative process translates to a medium outside of video games. The end results were satisfying in that case.
And now Nintendo has recently released a very short but telling animated Mario outing. It’s a CG production that features Charles Martinet’s voice acting as both Mario and Luigi, with Kenny James providing the voice of the villainous Bowser.
The short film, titled “Save Luigi!!”, airs exclusively on JR East trains in Japan and is interactive. Viewers watch as Mario faces off against Bowser to rescue his brother Luigi from a metal cage dangling over hot lava. Between cutscenes, the audience must correctly answer trivia questions on screen to save Luigi.
While it may seem unimportant at first, the short does give us some insight into how Nintendo might handle a big-screen Mario adventure. It’s clear they will definitely stick close to the official Mario models and art style from the 3D games, probably being near identical carbon copies of those seen in Super Mario Odyssey.
Although seeing as the artists behind the upcoming movie are not Japanese, it might veer a little closer to the more expressive animation style seen in Luigi’s Mansion 3, which was also produced outside of Japan.
It also gives us some idea into what the story might be if this short is expanded upon. Namely, Mario is most definitely going to be rescuing somebody in the upcoming Illumination film. And, judging by this short, it might not be Princess Peach. It could be Luigi, a brand new character, or even several characters, like the Sprixies from Super Mario 3D World.
It’s not a question of if Bowser will kidnap someone in the upcoming Mario movie, it’s a question of who he will kidnap.
Either way, the short shows us the direction an official Mario cartoon overseen by Nintendo itself would probably play out creatively: traditional Mario art style, simple plot, and Charles Martinet reprising his role. This is not going to be like the Sonic the Hedgehog movie with radical casting decisions like Jim Carrey. And it’s definitely not going to be a repeat of 1993’s infamous live-action Super Mario movie.
Music-wise, the short utilizes an andrenaline-pumping rock ‘n roll soundtrack that harkens back to Mario’s battles against Bowser in Super Mario 64. If that’s any indication of what to expect from the Mario’s future movie, it’s a good sign for longtime fans and newcomers alike.