You, an investor at the quarterly briefing: "Where is Mario Warriors?" Me, a business demi-god: "On wheels."
Let's talk about success.
What does success look like?
Does it look like a game that is receiving universal acclaim?
Does it look like a game that inspires developers the world over to rethink their current projects?
Does it look like the launching-off point for a rethink of your own franchise?
Success looks like cash. And if you can get that cash on the cheap, well my friend you just earned yourself a first class ticket to Successtown, USA. Population: you.
Success is a fat stack of greenbacks, a swollen cash on hand metric, and a clear rail to keep the money train running right on time.
You want to see success? Let's rap. Mario Kart 8 is success. Just to be clear, I'm not talking about Deluxe. I'll get to that. Mario Kart 8 arrived on Wii U like a popstar doing a concert in Chernobyl. Nobody's here, the ground is toxic for 10,000 years, and everyone is certain it is going to be a bust. In fact, in their rush to piss on a still empty grave, they managed to expose that they failed middle school statistics. Success is revenge that doesn't even require you lift a finger.
What does the Game Pad do, besides have a horn button? It prints money.
The funny thing is that success is unpredictable. Mario Kart 8 sold so well on Wii U that it didn't just defy expectations, it became a meme. A meme about success. On Wii U.
"So, how do we succeed?"
This is easy: Warriors Racer.
And that's how we make a billion dolla... ok I guess I need to explain further. Fine.
Let's put together a list of checklist of things we need for a licensed Warriors game.
- A license
- A bunch of characters
- A self-contained plot
- A DLC plan
- A unique "twist" on the generic Warriors gameplay
This one is easy. It's Mario Kart, we established that. It's in the above, beautifully executed, preamble.
Mario Kart sales and position on the sales chart by console:
- Switch: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - 53.79 million (#1 on Switch)
- Wii U: Mario Kart 8 - 8.46 million (#1 on Wii U)
- 3DS: Mario Kart 7 - 18.98 million (#1 on 3DS)
- Wii: Mario Kart Wii - 37.38 million (#2 on Wii)
- Nintendo DS: Mario Kart DS - 23.6 million (#3 on DS)
We are set on a license, and I have maxed out the amount of padding I can put into this article via unordered lists.
A Busload of Battlers
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has (at time of publication) 43 distinct drivers. This is more characters than any Warriors game, but we must do better. Mario Kart Arcade GP games give us access to Pac Man, Inky, and
Ms. Pac Man Pac Mom.
Given that Tecmo Koei is working on this project I demand we get Ryu Hayabusa and Ayane in karts.
We are set.
The good and bad news for our plan to MAKE A BILLION DOLLARS is that Mario Kart doesn't have any plot, so introducing one is both extremely easy and impossibly difficult. On what impossibly thin premise and unfathomably silly happenstance do I hang my fan fiction?
Forgive me this digression.
Lots of games in the Warriors style have true, character-based, paths whereas a lot of the licensed ones often try to tell a single story - because that makes writing their weird semi-official fan fiction is easier. Capcom's Sengoku Basara series doesn't just have paths per character, each character has multiple paths based on player choices.
Mario Kart has no lore, and so we are now tasked with giving each racer have their own reason to race, their own goals.
I actually did this exercise when I mocked the obsession some corners have with the Zelda timeline, by concocting my own Mario Kart timeline.
Imagine a plot that explains both the origin of Pink Gold Peach, and why it is so incumbent on her to win all the cups. Mario Party games attempt a plot for a single board, but I'm suggesting each chapter of the campaign is a cup, and each race a level.
Let's run through a few Mario Kart 8 Deluxe characters and give them motivation.
Mario: It turns out the trophies for each of the cups are made of ground-up stars. It's unclear what racing association decided to grind up the various stars, but Mario needs to get them so he can be ready for Bowser's next scheme.
Pink Gold Peach: The "real" Peach is an imposter; her spirit has been ejected into a vanity statue and her body hijacked by a Boo. She's out to get to the top in order to win the GP's prize: teatime with the princess. Once alone she will reclaim her body. Yes, this is basically the plot of Spirit Tracks.
Birdo: The newest Mario Kart 8 Deluxe character... I don't know. Birdo is just perpetually confused and is racing for reasons unknown even by them. I mean they don't even pop eggs out of the right end.
Between each cup a transitional story sequence will advance the plot. It's going to take a lot of videos to give each racer their own story, but its worth the price. We can introduce branches inside each character's plot by letting the story advance even when you don't win the cup, by creating "win" and "loss" branches off of each cup.
With this level of variability, we are well on our way to a Warriors' game's required 10,000 hours of content.
DLC? One Billion Dollars In Sight
Mario Kart 8 on Wii U was such a success that Nintendo pumped out two large DLC packages. The first added Link to the Mario Kart festivities, as well as Tanuki Mario and Cat Peach. On top of that, it included two new cups with four tracks in each. The second package added Animal Crossing's Villager and Isabelle as well as Bone Daddy Dry Bowser. It too also added two additional cups. Buying the complete package totals: six racers, four cups, and eight tracks.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch included all that content in the base game, and itself proved so successful that they've now rebooted DLC development yet again. This 2017 release is still getting new content in 2023!
Mario Kart Tour, the mobile brand-extension, goes the mobile game route of offering us not just new characters but also costumes for existing ones. It's summertime, so let's see their last "new" content. They are presently on Mii Racing Suits wave 34!
They are also constantly adding new tracks, many of which have made their way into the new Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC.
It's a bit early, but here's a sneak peek at the next tour in #MarioKartTour! Looks like three new courses will make their debuts all at once. Be careful not to slip on their towering ramps and hairpin curves! One gets the sense that some intense matches are about to begin! pic.twitter.com/7vSqdWrozZ— Mario Kart Tour (@mariokarttourEN) June 8, 2023
Not only is this brand well-suited to DLC, we can also likely mine existing content from previous offers to repackage in our Warriors gameplay...but not Driver Daisy (Fairy) . We don't serve Daisy fans in this establishment.
So, how are we going to adapt Mario Kart to the Warriors template?
We've already established the following:
- Story "chapters" will be called "Cups"
- Missions will be "Races"
- Each racer gets their own "course" through the game's many cups
- Branching paths based on win/loss in a race
Here's the vision: our racer warriors are in karts. The karts and the clothes are the items you farm by replying missions, much like you farm weapons in most Warriors games. Clothes give you new powers to use to attack and each kart will have its own mix of damage resistance, speed, handling, and acceleration.
But let's get to the good stuff, while the majority of the gameplay will be driving around shooting various power-ups at untold enemies, think Battle Mode from previous Mario Kart games but on a bigger scale, boss fights will be reworked. Age of Calamity made its boss fights resemble those from Breath of the Wild, although with bad performance. It is a Warriors game. I'm envisioning boss fights (aka: "The final lap") as a one-on-one race around the track.
Online multiplayer will allow you to face off in Cups against up to 12 opponents. The game will alternate between Battle and Race modes. Winning a Battle will afford advantages in the subsequent Race. Win the cup, win the session.
Alternately, the Battle mode can be turned off for pure racing action.
So that covers our list, how do we turn this into a billion dollars?
Here's the game's title: Mario Kart 9: Warriors.