That is to say, a lead character that isn't white, straight, or cis.
A few Nintendo games let you create your own avatar like Splatoon, Animal Crossing, and the Miis in general but let's step back from those and talk specifically about named characters with their own story and defined character traits.
Has it happened already in some lesser known title? I've been trying to think of characters that aren't white in Nintendo games and so far the only major example I can think of is Ganondorf.
Hmm. I *think* some Nintendo characters are supposed to be Japanese, but it's hard to tell since Japan has this odd trend of making their own Japanese characters look very "Western". For instance... what ethnicity is Andy from Advance Wars? Who knows?! I guess you could argue that Andy is a very Western name... was that his name in Famicom Wars?
Most of the examples I can think of offhand are characters that are maybe supposed to be Japanese but who knows?
I guess there was Doki Doki Panic...
I don't think Nintendo has created many new protagonists at all lately though, period.
Sure, at some point. Though it depends, because when Samus came around she was a minority, and that was practically straight out of the gate. Plus in Japan, minorities are different. A fat Italian plumber is probably a minority. :P We have all kinds of Yoshi colors. Fire Emblem has a variety of characters, and while maybe they aren't "leads" they still play a huge roll.
I don't know what cis is, but I'm not really up for Googling it to find out, just to be on the safe side.
Yeah, I was gonna point out Mario too. What exactly are we counting as "white"? Non-Americans? Does Japanese count as white? Because Takumaru was sometime in the 80s. Everyone is French in Pokemon X/Y. It's also worth noting that the Japanese in general aren't exposed to the variety of ethnicities that the US is, and as a result generally have less experience in working with characters of varying ethnicities. And sometimes when they do, you get a FF7 Barrett situation where people complain anyway.
Even so, if you specifically mean black characters, there are several good ones in Punch-Out. I'd love to play a game starring Doc Louis in his glory days! In fact, Punch-Out has a cast that spans the globe, although it's fairly tongue-in-cheek in playing up the national stereotypes.
When it comes to gay and trans characters, I'd guess not very likely for a long time. For starters, Nintendo is typically pretty hands-off with romance, period (Peach doesn't even dole out kisses any more these days, and 30 year old Link still hasn't gotten a single girlfriend). And statistically, gay and trans people are a small fraction of the population--something like 3.5% and <1%. Seems unlikely that Nintendo would focus on appealing to those groups specifically over the wide majority. Sounds harsh, but that's historically how they've run their business. We probably have a similarly likely chance of seeing an albino or paraplegic lead in a Nintendo game.
Zero is right in that we haven't seen many new IPs lately, period. The latest ones are "moldable," like the Miis in games like Tomodachi life and Splatoon's Inklings.
If it ever happened, it would be when a younger generation has fully replaced the old fogies at Nintendo. It will also depend on how Japanese culture as a whole changes over the years, and I don't see Nintendo themselves creating a game pandering to a US audience.
@Zero I'm pretty sure Famicom Wars does not have COs. Andy was introduced in Advance Wars and his Japanese name appears to be Ryo.
Mr. Sandman is the champ (Wii), and hard as nails. That has to count for something.
"Tell your face...to leave my fists alone!"
Come to think of it, I might say that Punch-Out on Wii has a more memorable, better-defined black cast than, like 99% of games I've played. Doc Louis, Disco Kid and Mr. Sandman all really make an impression (in my face, in the latter case).
Mario may be Italian but he is still very much caucasian. As Zero mentioned the idea of some characters being east-Asian is possible but it seems like in most cases that when localized those characters are racially ambiguous which is further confused when they are reassigned names during translation which are typically common western names.
Those numbers for gay and trans aren't going to be reliable when you consider that globally the environment for people in the LGBTQ community is incredibly hostile. They are persecuted in more forward thinking societies still with all kinds of stigmas attached to them and in more regressive societies they can be outright killed. Even if those numbers were accurate, though, I do not see that as a convincing reason not to have more variation within their characters.
Punch-Out is more diverse certainly but it is in the supporting cast. Little Mac is very much white.
It's not arbitrary. And the vast majority of Nintendo's audience is from European countries and countries that have their origins closely tied to Europe. The only major exception is Japan. All of that is to say that as far as the majority of Nintendo's audience is concerned Mario isn't part of a minority group. And even if he was, he would still be one of dozens of characters who is caucasian which leaves other ethnicities still without any representation.
@Stephen I definitely agree that "they're a Japanese country without much exposure to..." isn't a strong argument when they have sold internationally for like 30+ years and the majority of their sales come from "Western" buyers. At that point you really need to start talking to a wide variety of people.
Are you really going to argue that Italian-Americans don't meet your criteria for a minority simply because you're lumping them into a larger group labelled 'white'?
JKR seems to think that Mario represents a minority. So does T-Bun. So do I. Anecdotal, sure. But I think enough to counter your unsupported statement that purports to speak for the 'majority of Nintendo's audience'.
Of course my point is proven when we get to your final sentence. Stating that 'even if Mario is a minority' (he is), then you'll simply redefine the issue so he no longer counts.
You ask if Nintendo will ever cast a minority. Three people here have pointed out that a member of a minority group is the mascot for the entire company. So the answer to your question is, 'Yes, and they have.' But then you've chosen to redefine 'minority' enabling you to continue pushing whatever your true agenda for this thread is. Which is I believe what Mustache is trying to establish with his question.