Does “Kiddie” Mario Deserve to Outscore the GTA Games?
The highest scoring franchises in video game history? Why, it’s Mario and Grand Theft Auto, of course. If anyone ever asks you what these two IPs have in common, you’ve got your answer.
If you check the All-Time Best list over at GameRankings, you will find that four of the top five and five of the top seven games are either part of the Mario or GTA franchises. You can cross-reference that list with Metacritic if you choose; the results aren’t that much different. For instance, while Super Mario Galaxy holds the #1 spot at GR with an average review score of 97.64%, the Metacritic average is 97.
But here’s the issue: Many critics and gamers out there will claim GTA quite simply has more content, and has pushed the envelope more in this industry. Some say it isn’t even fair to compare a straight platformer with virtually no story (outside of what a 7-year-old might expect), no real acting, and no gameplay mechanics that…well, aren’t platforming. At the same time, look at what we can do in the massive, dynamic virtual world of GTA.
That isn’t fair, though, is it? It’s extremely difficult to compare Mario and GTA, despite the similarity in review scores. They’re just two entirely different franchises and simply because one is created for a different demographic doesn’t make it automatically inferior. Besides, could we not argue that Super Mario 64 (#7 on the all-time list) did more for video games than any GTA ever did? Or would some argue that Grand Theft Auto III (95.19% at GR and 97 at Metacritic) represented just as much of a revolution?
Perhaps we could also claim that GTAIV doesn’t deserve the super high scores it received; many consider it to be one of the most overrated games ever produced. Then again, there are some who will say Super Mario Galaxy 2 (97.35% at GR, 97 at Metacritic) didn’t exactly take gigantic strides past the original title, either. Oh, and there’s the argument that “just because it’s a Mario game, it scores high.”
We at VGRHQ prefer to be optimists about the situation: We like to think that two franchises, on exact opposite ends of the interactive entertainment spectrum, have been equally praised and appreciated by critics. Does this not prove the greatly expanding variety and diversity of gameplay mechanics that has exploded in the past ten or fifteen years? And isn’t it nice to show that despite what the anti-game activists say, not all game critics reward grit and violence on a regular basis. Mario is the antithesis of “grit and violence,” yes?
So, maybe we should all be proud of these results.