New Super Mario Bros.

In their book, Remediation: Understanding New Media, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin discuss how media formats replace one another as time and technology push forward. Sometimes they work hand in hand, remaining relevant because of one deficiency or another. We still read books because there is no way to communicate the amount of depth and thought inherent to literature through the medium of film without torpid amounts of narration. Literature is also a more intimate format, and one more suited to frequent, shorter, casual use. With the case of video games, we have a format that is singularly dependent on changes in technology.

With games, one of the biggest barriers to development is that technology is expensive, slow to change, and difficult to push forward. So far, this type of growth has come in leaps. In the early 1980’s, Nintendo released one of the first platform games, Super Mario Bros.. The title was one of the first to sport an original and coherent narrative. But due to the limitations of the Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System hardware, the game is now a primitive ancestor of its modern cousins. Despite this lack of technology, the game’s innovative use of color and music and excellent design made it the best selling game of all time– a crown it still wears today.

A Concept Reborn

In 2006, Nintendo released the first two dimensional Mario platform game in years. New Super Mario Bros., is a long removed sequel to the original, and not a remake. Even though remediation, according to the definition by Bolter and Grusin, usually comes when a concept is remade from one media format (like a book) into another (like a film), this game is an opportunity for Nintendo to create a Mario game with improved presentation, color, sound, graphics, functionality, and storytelling techniques. The game not only utilizes the superior hardware of the Nintendo DS, but lends from later Mario games for game play, plot, and music elements and in-game art. Unlike the evolution from book to film, this game is portable, more casual, and easier to pick up and put away than it’s progenitor.

This type of reproduction seems more common in the video game world. With films, remakes are just that– a new version which is independent from everything previously done. This game integrates characters and themes from other games other than the original title itself (such as Bowser Jr.), thus adding to the narrative content in addition to the game play content. While genuine remakes do appear in video games, they are often also attempts to spruce up graphics and sound. Super Mario Bros., has received numerous subsequent releases on other systems with nicer graphics and updated sound. However, this is one of the first times a sequel has come this close to a remake, and is still a unique brand of remediation.

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