It's kind of weird to me that people care about Nintendo characters or have 'favorite ones' at all, honestly. At least with the ciphers like Mario and Yoshi. But, really, with all of them. Once they are removed from their context, my affection for them ceases.
'Mario', to me, is something of a symbol of quality in a respective genre. 'Kirby' has become a standard-bearer for experimentation (and, alternately, the lack thereof).
Come to think of it, Wario is kind of awesome. But, although his character has been fleshed out a bit recently, Luigi fans always have puzzled me. Did they just enjoy the color green?
That's like asking if people care about Disney characters. Of course they'll say yes. At least people who are Disney fans will. None of the Disney characters are super fleshed-out or anything, yet they're the most enduring cartoon characters ever.
I view Link as someone that always tries to do good in any situation. Even if thats not realistic I still care for the guy. He's putting his life on the line for everyone. Kind of makes me feel patriotic in a sense.
Luigi developed a personality since Luigi's Mansion. In the Mario & Luigi games, the Paper Mario games... he's pretty much become an actual character, so I think there are legitimate reasons to be a fan.
Heck, his goofy jump differentiates him from Mario in SMB2, so even back then I could see someone all of a sudden think: "I like this guy".
@Abdooooo But isn't he supposed to be kind of a faceless 'link' to the player? Except with a face?
I suppose that hasn't been the case for a while, though. The turning point was probably Ocarina.
@Guillaume Yeah, I had the same musings about Luigi, regarding his RPG/Mansion characterization and even the funny little jump in SMB2. I was trying to figure out what kind of personality that jump would connote. Someone who tries really hard, maybe? Yoshi stole his groove, though. But he is still abnormally tall, I suppose.
I'm a fan of the worlds the characters are in. And, although the characterizations are one-dimensional and the shows are horrible, I still watched the Mario cartoons as a kid, and I associate some of the character traits from those shows with the characters in the games. The love the Koopalings mostly because of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, and they didn't even have the same names!
I actually really dislike the world Mario DDR (and generally Mario Party) tries to give Mario. It seems less mysterious and more like a story book. As a child, I always found Mario's world to be so mysterious and I'd draw pictures of floating blocks and Koopa Troopas all the time.
Do I care about the characters IN GENERAL? Yeah, sure. They represent quality gaming experiences that I've enjoyed for years.
Do I actually care about them AS CHARACTERS? Like, their personality and stuff like that? In that case, no. Not really.
But some of them look cool, they are in fun games, and... I dunno. As was said in the original post, once they are taken out of context, their appeal is lacking, IMO. But how often do you see them out of context?
@ploot Yeah, I was thinking about those Mario and Zelda cartoons. And the Mario movie. I never even considered watching that stuff. I did see an ep of the CG Donkey Kong Country show, though. Or maybe I just dreamed that up?
As far as the appeal of Luigi, I think a lot of us filled-in-the-blanks on him back when we were kids. Sure, the games never developed a personality for him, but you could infer a lot. He was sort of the underdog. Overshadowed by his famous brother, he's player 2, his name isn't in the title, his picture isn't on the box, The Princess probably has no interest in him, etc. - and underdogs particularly appeal to kids, probably because kids feel like underdogs a lot of the time. Same reason there was a mini-riot amongst schoolchildren when Pluto got degraded as a planet. Pluto has no personality, obviously, and its qualification as a planet is really an unemotional, scientific matter. Yet school kids felt like that ball of ice floating through space was being punished simply for being small. So I think that proves kids relate to small, quiet things. Whether its truly logical or not, I think that desire to see the underdog succeed is why a lot of us started to root for Luigi.
For the main topic, I guess it depends on what you mean by caring. Do I think Mario has much of a personality? Do I care about what he thinks, dreams and feels? Of course not. In those respects, he's absolutely a cipher. Cellophane-flat. A cartoon. A mass of pixels. And yet he does have a few definable traits that I admire - endless determination, loyalty and enthusiasm, in particular.
But, more importantly for me, he simply represents all the hours of entertainment Mario games have given me over the years. Even just a drawing of the character (removed from context, let's say) engenders a great deal of goodwill from me, not because Mario is particularly compelling as a fully-realized character but because he's a great reminder of all those happy hours of gaming. I think that's enough to make me care about him.
EDIT: Oh, and here's that picture of Doctor Wario again, because it's awesome and proves Nintendo characters taken out of context are still rad.
Personally, I think Nintendo's characters are similar to iconic cartoons like the Disney and Looney Tunes bunch, Popeye, Bluto, Olive Oyl, etc. They have a few definite personality traits and you can infer a pretty strong amount just from that. I actually consider this a lot when making comics, and there really is a ton to work with.
It also grants some wiggle room because they're not really that "developed"--Mario is the ever-cheerful hero, Bowser is a mean bully but not really evil, Wario is gross and greedy, Peach is sweet and pure, Daisy is tomboyish and energetic, Luigi is somewhat shy and nervous, Yoshi is excitable and loyal, etc. Within these parameters, it's not hard to imagine how each of them would react in certain situations, and the lack of extra "depth" that comes with Nintendo's focus on gameplay first also gives them their appeal (the iconic designs certainly help too). And that's just the Mario series, not counting the basic traits of Kirby, Samus, Link, Captain Falcon, Fox, and all those Pokemon.
So I'd say I care very much about Nintendo's characters. Do I get nervous for Peach when she gets kidnapped? Well, no, but I certainly want to see Mario's adventures continue. The comfortable familiarity of these settings and characters (storyline-wise, not necessarily gameplay-wise) is part of the major appeal for me.
I never really bought into the whole "link to the player" concept with Link, at least not anymore. He's become more and more of a recognizable character over time, and since he's not something that's customizable, I never was sold on the "Link is the extension of the player into the game world" notion. Now that they have him showing more emotion in recent games, plus much of the decision-making being out of the hands of the player, I don't associate Link with myself much at all.
That being said, I've still always cared about the character mostly because of what Abdooooo said; he's always thrust into a pretty messy situation and his involvement is always beyond his control. That, and the series takes its story more seriously than most other Nintendo franchises, though often not to the extent that I'd like it to.
It's weird. The sole reason I pick Luigi in stuff like Mario Kart, Party etc is because he's not Mario. Everyone always points out that Luigi is constantly in Mario's shadow. So I feel like I'm supporting the underdog or something by picking him .
In general I think as far as mainstream Nintendo characters go, whilst most of them are pretty bare, Samus is someone who's at least *somewhat* developed (even if you ignore Other M ). And hell look at the mixed reaction to that game. If that doesn't prove people care about characterisation I don't know what does.
I generally like the characters in Nintendo games. Not many of them are particularly great (some from EarthBound I'd argue are though), but I still enjoy them. When I see them succeeding in their respective games, it makes me happy for them
I love all the characters absolutely. Brilliantly designed and brilliant in their simplicity. They all seem to be simple symbols, so when I say I love their characters I might not necessary love their personality, but again, their design and what they symbolize.