Anyone who's ever played a game console in the past couple years knows one undisputable fact: Sony's biggest selling point seems to be it's more "mature"-themed games. If Nintendo is to hope to keep up with them with good ol' Cubey, they'll need to follow suit.

Nintendo has already promised that they're going to go a bit more mature this time around. However, exactly how mature CAN they get? One of their major selling points is making games that are DAMN fun to play while remaining family-friendly (A none-too-easy accomplishment, to be sure). Where can they afford to be mature and not comprimise their game franchises?

Using the characters from Super Smash Bros. as a guideline, let's go through Nintendo's game universes and figure out what they can do.

Your mileage may vary.

Universe: Super Mario Bros. (Including Yoshi, excluding Wario (see notes))
Possibility: Slightly low to medium
All right, Miyamoto SAID that he was going to make the Mario series a bit more mature. He's the fucking genius, I'm ASSUMING he knows what he's talking about, but, let's be honest here: You've got a series featuring two Italian plumbers figting (Amongst other things) evil mushrooms, turtles, and large grinning carnivorous plants, all in an attempt to save the princess of a kingdom of mushroom-headed people. What can you do with THAT?

Universe: Metroid
Possibility: Very high
If there's one Nintendo universe that would look better more mature, it's the Metroid one. You've got a bounty hunter in a kickass suit hunting a creature that swoops in out of nowhere and sucks the life force out of you. Looking at the video clips posted to the internet (See IGNcube or wherever), it looks like they're going in that direction. Schweet.

Universe: The Legend of Zelda
Possibility: High
I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical when Ocarina of Time had a more mature look to it over the past Zelda games. It seemed to go against everything Zelda. But, upon playing the game, they did it right. And Majora's Mask can just get plain FREAKY.

Universe: F-Zero
Possibility: Very high
One look at F-Zero X will tell anyone that it kicks enough ass as-is. Enough said.

Universe: Donkey Kong Country
Possiblity: Unknown
This one is Rareware's territory. And Rareware's known for two things: Keeping things DEATHLY secret, and pulling odd suprises, like Conker's Bad Fur Day. Who knows.

Universe: Kirby's Dream Land
Possibility: Zero
With a universe where a pink puffball inhales enemies and swallows them, you really CAN'T get mature with THAT.

Universe: Starfox
Possibility: Medium
I can picture a good chance of Starfox being more mature. You've got good ol' fashioned space combat with a reasonable plotline behind it, I can picture it happening.

Universe: Pokemon
Possibility: Zero
Pokemon is an example of CLASSIC Japanese mass-marketing to children. Best example I've seen since my own childhood. As such, it CANNOT become more mature without destroying the franchise, something I'm CERTAIN Nintendo's not in the mood for.

Universe: Earthbound (Mother)
Possibility: Unknown
Shigesato Itoi is one twisted guy. It's kinda hard to predict what he'll do with his games. It's even more hard to predict when Nintendo cancelled Earthbound 64 (Mother 3).

Once again, your mileage may vary.

NOTES: Although Wario wasn't in Super Smash Bros, I think he needs to be taken under consideration. When the main character of the game is EVIL, I get this feeling a mature game will come soon enough...

Sand Jack: Hm... I must try this "Alice". I've heard good things about it.

The thing is, Nintendo try to make their major releases (which get vastly more attention than the wider range of games on their platforms) suitable for all ages - meaning that they target the widest possible demographic. This leads to their main franchises being cutsified - they are designed for male and female gamers, young and old (certainly not the case for most Western developers' efforts). The other reason for their main franchises (most notably Mario) are cute and simplistic is because they originated as highly abstract, iconic characters on 8-bit machines. They garnered a large following at that stage, and efforts to make them more 'mature' would have alienated that fanbase.

Nintendo can make 'mature' games (as mature as anything out there, just not resorting to gore as the be-all and end-all of the experience), witness GoldenEye 007. Generally they try to make action-oriented games more like swashbuckling adventures than gritty action films... more Indiana Jones than Die Hard (mind you, a Die Hard game has just been announced for the GameCube, so maybe this is changing).

Anyway, the kiddie aspect was only really a problem on the N64 due to lack of third party support (and Nintendo not really reacting to Sony's 'lifestyle accessory' marketing like-for-like). Their previous platforms (and apparently, the GameCube) don't suffer from this problem. Cue Konami (Castlevania has significant maturity potential), LucasArts, Namco, Sega, EA (sports games to draw in the 18-25's) and a whole load of other developers aiming at different demographics.

Hmm, do we want Mario pulling a Glock and capping Koopa's ass? I mean really? Wasn't Bob Hoskins warning enough?

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