It was twenty-five years ago when Nintendo fans first heard the welcoming and upbeat voice of the company’s moustachioed mascot; the days where the Italian plumber stood in silence as he eyed up the Goombas waddling sideways towards him were over – and not only because Goombas walk forward in Super Mario 64! His journey was now accompanied by cheery “Woohoos!” and his now-famous self-introduction “It’s-a-me, Mario!”. Who would have thought though, that the jolly voice behind one of gaming’s most iconic characters could be even an even more delightful man?
In commemoration of the launch of the Wii U-exclusive Super Mario Maker and the 30th anniversary of their most well known franchise, Nintendo UK hosted an invitation-only event in the British capitol last weekend, giving members of the Nintendo community a chance to share their fond memories of the Super Mario series while enjoying the new game together. Taking place just a short walk from St. Paul’s Cathedral, Nintendo decorated the underground Patch Bar with a Super Mario-themed coat of paint, with themed posters, coasters and even muffin baskets guarded by a Yoshi plush! Although we can confirm that they might want to consider a more competent guard in the future ;).
The free food and drink were by no means the biggest draw to the event though. That accolade is reserved for none other than Nintendo UK’s special guest: the man who gave the plumber a voice – Mr. Charles Martinet. My first meeting with Charles came shortly after we had arrived at the venue, when despite clearly still being in the middle of preparations, he kindly took the time out to give my younger brother’s Super Mario t-shirt a personalised signature – including quickly writing a cheeky “Woohoo!” on his sleeve at the last minute!
I was admittedly a little nervous when I first met Charles and asked him to sign my copy of Super Mario Maker, but within a few minutes of being exposed to warm, happy and humble demeanour, it felt like I was in the comfortable presence of a family member. Even towards the end of the day, when it became apparent that a full day of autograph signing, photo posing and video recording were taking its toll on Charles’ stamina, he never faltered in making each and every fan feel like they were number one – sometimes while playing the role of his characters; which was especially funny when he donned the voice of Waluigi. Unlike a lot of special guests you see at these kind of events, when Charles didn’t seclude himself to an employee-only area when not signing his name; instead, he was downstairs mingling with his fans and watching their futile attempts to conquer community-made Super Mario Maker levels (on a large screen to add to the
humiliation community feeling).
No event would be complete however, without Nintendo UK hosting a themed quiz forcing everyone to delve deep into the depths of their memories as they struggled to remember the names of darned flying squirrels from New Super Mario Bros. U. Unfortunately, the team that included myself, WiiUAndMii founder Thomas Blakey and writer Neil Richmond didn’t snag the top prize – but I’m confident that Walugi’s Lonely Hearts Club at least had the best team name.
Through giving the option to upload courses you’ve created to the net, Super Mario Maker has created an opportunity for online communities to start up and spread their love of the Italian plumber and his side-scrolling adventures, but the true magic happens when events like these occur and people can meet up face-to-face. Not only was this event an opportunity to meet the voice of Mario, but is was also a chance to catch up with friends from across the StreetPass UK network and share our enthusiasm for recent and upcoming titles such as LBX: Little Battlers eXperience, Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson and Yo-Kai Watch. One of the venue’s few quiet corners was also soon overtaken by the roars of people enjoying 8-player matches of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U!
The event also presented the opportunity for me to constantly remind Nintendo to make a new Ice Climber game.
From my experience as the founder of StreetPass Cambridge, I know that the only real way to measure the success of an event is by the reaction of those who attended, so considering that even when the evening was drawing to a close and the festivities were winding down, the fact that the joy and enthusiasm on peoples’ faces should be a testament to just how wonderful that Saturday was. Hopefully in fifteen-years time, Nintendo throw an equally fancy shindig for the 30th Anniversary of Waluigi.
Now, as for what I thought of Super Mario Maker itself? Ohohohoho. You’ll find out soon enough…