Evergreen titles, sequels and upgrades continue to attract gamers around the world

E3, short for Electronics Entertainment Expo, was back in June. So were Nintendo's Mario, Donkey Kong and Pokemon, and Bayonetta, after a makeover. Nintendo lined up Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Bayonetta 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD for its Wii-U. It also flaunted — but wouldn't let you play — a new instalment in the series Super Smash Bros, featuring Mario, Mega Man and the yoga trainer from Wii-Fit. The Nintendo titles, along with open-world game X, will release before the year ends.

It's an upgrade, bragged Nintendo man Satoru Iwata. In Super Mario 3D and MarioKart 8 players will race upside down, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze will have HD graphics. “For the first time in a 3D Mario game, we are offering a multi-player mode. Each character will have his own personality and gameplay style.” Overall, Super Mario 3D World is probably the closest sequel to Super Mario 64. You'll find Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach sporting the same abilities from the Nintendo-Entertainment-System classic. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze's gameplay is as frenetic as ever with plenty of bananas to collect. Bayonetta 2 has slick action, fantastical enemies, and Bayonetta appears with a whip to keep enemies at bay. It's a third-party exclusive for Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD has improved art-work, sharper animation. Play it off-screen on the Wii-U Gamepad — Nintendo has added gamepad-specific gameplay features.

Great, but that's another Mario, another Zelda, another Pokemon. Is Nintendo stuck in the past, refusing to change? The question split my respondents down the middle. Embarrassment for you, Nintendo, cried the naysayers. Why would you HD an old game rather than make a new one? Why Wind-Waker and not Majora's Mask or Twilight Princess? Nintendo must quit relying on 20-year old characters to keep them afloat, they grumbled. Only Pokemon can be continued with any justification. These upcoming games lack the magic and wonder the classics did, can never match the wonderfully-designed launch titles. Nintendo needs something new, not sequels! We can't live on spin-offs! “Wonder what prompted Nintendo to create a HD remake of Zelda: The Wind Waker,” lamented game reviewer Matthew O'Mara. “Why put a high dynamic range filter on the GameCube classic?”

Hey, said a gamer taking his eyes off the screen to glare at me, “That's only one-two per Nintendo, you know how many Assassin's Creed, Call-of-Duty, Madden we get per system? Even Uncharted has more!” Yeah, said his friend, eyes glued to Warcraft, “Grab a DS LITE and buy Mario & Luigi. Bowser's Inside Story is so insanely fun, it's a different RPG, and uses the console in clever ways. I can't recommend it more!” Economics, said Gamer #1. Like it or not, the larger gaming community buys sequels en masse. Mario 3D-Land caused a sales boom on 3DS. And why do you think Wii massively outsold both PS3 and Xbox-360? A few people don't like Mario and Zelda doesn't mean Nintendo should stop putting out their biggest sellers that consistently shine in the top-10 games? Where is the logic here?

Mario, Donkey Kong & Pokemon are timeless characters, argued Swami Venkat, Founder & CEO, iNexGen Games. “It's great news for gaming aficionados. The tech upgrade in game designs and gameplay actually help players improve skills while providing ultimate fun and satisfaction.” Their appeal extends to all — non-experts, hardcore gamers — across age groups. “Those who enjoyed these games as kids in the 80s are parents now, playing their favourite games with their children. Some of the new games support collaborative multi-player gameplay, making them family/party games.” Even those who hate games love Mario & Donkey Kong, he said. Such is the appeal of those immortal characters.

“Well, everyone has loved the goofiness and the interesting platform mechanics of Mario and Pokeman,” said Naren Pradhan, teen gamer. “Bayonetta has an interesting aesthetic, and fluid and entertaining action gameplay (and plenty of sex appeal).” His own affair with Pokemon ended with its diamond version, but “my sister still loves it.”

Old series return because of public opinion, he said. Unlike in films, games-sequels can often be a lot better than their predecessors. For one thing, sequels can be an opportunity to fix gameplay issues seen in the originals and implement brand new elements. For example, everybody loved Halo 3, Final Fantasy 7, Batman: Arkham City (sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum.) “Brand new games often either disappoint with their new mechanics, or are accused of being carbon copies of other series. It is safer to make sequels to already popular series so that the main path of creation is simpler, and critical backlash is light,” he said.

Watch trailers at: Silicon Valley, Joystiq, Nintendo