In terms of units sold, the answer is “yes.” VGChartz, a Web site that gathers game sales data, says the Wii’s flagship title passed Mario’s first big adventure as of December 27, 2008.
But not everyone is happy about this. CNet columnist Don Reisinger says it’s an “insult” to compare Wii Sports to Super Mario Bros. and other classics. “It’s not that I dislike Wii Sports or haven’t enjoyed my time playing it,” he wrote. “I just don’t see how it can be held in the same high regard as Super Mario Bros.”
Respectfully, I disagree. To play Super Mario Bros. now is to experience a rudimentary platform game with slippery controls and repetitive play. In other words, it’s not very good, but it opened the door to a new world of gaming. Reisinger calls Wii Sports a “proof of concept,” but how could we view Super Mario Bros. any differently?
Better games for the Nintendo Entertainment System eventually came along, and I suspect the same thing will happen to Wii Sports, but both games — and the systems they came bundled with — arrived at time where the game industry was at a crossroads.
A year before the NES reached the U.S., the American game industry crashed. Consumers were tired of the same old shovelware, and the bubble of new consoles and games simply burst. Mario and his cohorts opened new creative doors, and suddenly video games were back in style.
Today’s game industry, though healthy, is also in a rut. The core gamers that support blockbusters like Halo and Grand Theft Auto are but a slice of the general population. When Ninendo’s “Revolution” project came along, with its motion controls instead of shinier graphics, the company was laughed at — until the Wii became the most sought-after console on the market. And it’s not because of the system as a whole. It’s because people want to play Wii Sports, a game that offers new possibilities, but remains simple and fun like gaming used to be.
Personally, that’s not what I look for in a video game, and if I were king, I wouldn’t dub either of these titles as the best of all time. But Super Mario Bros. and Wii Sports both equally deserve their accolades, not insults.