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MARIO

AN INTRODUCTION
The Mario game series is a well known, widely distributed, highly popular video game, which was first created by Shigeru Miyamoto and distributed by Japanese game manufacturing giant Nintendo. Initially known as the “Mario Bros”, the game has since been renamed “Super Mario Bros” and has developed into one of the world’s most famous video games.

The game’s objective is relatively simple; the game revolves around Mario’s character and his adventure in trying to rescue Princess Peach from his arch-nemesis Bowser. Mario is required to go through a set of obstacles and challenges, fighting enemies on his way to defeat the all-conquering Bowser. Mario today is one of the most recognisable figures or characters in the gaming industry and has been the face of Nintendo for the last three decades.    

LONG LIVING                   
Despite Mario’s character first appearing in 1981’s Donkey Kong release, the first stand-alone Mario game was actually first distributed in 1984. Since then, Mario has appeared in over 200 different games in varying capacities and genres. The game has over the years progressed and explored into different plots, storylines and situations, yet the fundamental ideas behind the original game still remain, which is a major reason why Mario is still much loved today. The game series and the Mario character himself’s ability to develop and adapt to various genres and platforms has been a key factor to the games series’ success.


EXPANDABILITY
While the creators probably had ideas for Mario to converge onto other media platforms, it is unlikely they were prepared for all the success that was to come with the game. Despite this, Mario and his friends have been present in all sorts of media platforms since its creation.

  • Films
A Hollywood motion picture film based on the Mario game series was attempted and released in 1993 called “Super Mario Bros”. The attempt at re-enacting Mario’s storyworld onto film form was seen as unrealistic and filled with several implications. The film as it goes, focused too much of the game itself and using that “content to sell a film, rather than the other way around” (Brookley, pg.4); the game lacked a “narrative arc with which to span a full-length feature film, and consequently the film was not well received”. The original game’s storyworld is based on the fact that it has a very open ended plot, with a continuously series of scenarios and challenges. The nature of the film simply does not allow this Mario storyworld concept to work due to the relatively short timespan in films given to tell such a long storyline or plot. Unfortunately for the film critics and audiences did not make much of it with the film flopping at the box office, grossing just over 20 million for a 42 million US dollar production. Times Magazine has also named the film in their list of “top 10 worst video game movies”, quoting it was the “first video game movie, and possibly the worst”.

  • Comics
 With Nintendo being the creators of Mario, there were no doubt the creators knew this would be a major medium to exploit, given the popularity of mangas and comic books in the Japanese markets and its consistent reliability to continue a story. A handful of Mario-centric comics were published and released in Japan, most with varying degrees of success. Comics or manga is a medium that could be considered as a “book-form” of video games, where ongoing storylines and plots are kept going and do not simply finish within the one volume. Comics also appealed to a much wider audience due to the presence of an alternative storyline to the original game. The most successful Mario comic book undisputedly is the “Super Mario-Kun” series, a Japanese published manga, which have been running since 1991; and as of late 2010 it has published up to 42 volumes.

  • TV animations
Several Mario-themed TV animations were created during the late 80s to the early 90s. Despite the TV series platform being seen as a completely viable option to expand and converged into, the Mario TV animations never quite reached their potential. This is because while one storyline is being told in each Mario episode, producers did not provide the show with enough new information to get audiences hooked in. Not enough new themes were being explored and it was like watching about the game but not having the ability to interact with it. Some of these failed TV shows include Saturday Supercade, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, none of which ran for more than 12 months.    

  • Spinoffs
Dr. Mario
One of the first Mario spinoffs game was released in 1990. With Tetris’s popularity growing immensely at the time, Nintendo managed to copy Tetris’s concept and come up with its own creation and was a large success.

Mario Kart
The Mario Kart franchise first started out in 1992 and has since developed into the most successful and well known of all the Mario spinoffs. This game hugely appealed to non-arcade styled audiences and it gave people the opportunity to play other characters unlike in the original Mario game. In comparison to other racing games, Mario Karts was also easy to learn and pick up as well.

Yoshi’s Island
Yoshi’s Island is a game very much in the original Mario game mould, except the main protagonist is Mario’s much loved friend and pet Yoshi. First distributed in 1995, the change in the main character meant Yoshi’s Island opened up a completely new storyworld for a new character and offered audiences a whole different set of new challenges and obstacles not present in the original game.

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games
This was a one-off spin-off released in late 2007 and was an official game of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The game managed to combine two popular game series together into a sports party-themed competition, which had the ability to attract either or both sets of fans. It turned into a massive commercial success thus becoming the “best-selling gaming character cross-over" game and has been distributed onto the Wii and DS platforms. This allowed for fans to really enjoy pitting different characters of the Mario and Sonic storyworld against one another and opened a new wide chapter in storytelling.

  • Merchandise
There has been endless amounts of merchandise released since the Mario game distribution - either as an official Nintendo product, copies of those products or even fan-made merdanchise. These items, being real physical objects, has given fans another platform to engage and imagine the possibilities of the Mario storyworld.

SELF-CONTAINED
The Mario game series has over the years been heavily branched out into various genres and variations of the original game and been played  in several gaming and other media platforms. Spin-offs have also played a massive part in building Mario up to become a major convergent success. Today, Mario is one of the most self-contained video games around and new audiences find Mario’s storyworld to be easy to understand and warm up to. 

AUDIENCE RECEPTION
In the gaming world, Mario is known as one of the most popular and well known games worldwide. However on the transmedia front, Mario has seen rather mixed results with its fair share of successes and failures. Failed Mario mediums such as films and TV animations has not been well received by the public due their emphasis on the original Mario material; more successful mediums such as comic books or the game spinoffs prove that additional content is required to make a Mario medium become a successful transmedia reality.     

ECONOMICS
The Mario game series is one of the most popular and enduring game series of all time. Statistically it is the world’s most successful and best selling video game in history, with around 262 million copies sold worldwide as of March 2011.

CONCLUSION
The Mario game series has certainly built itself up, improved and adapted well to the world of transmedia storytelling. For a video game that was not initially made for transmedia storytelling, it has certainly done well to become the “first video game personality to successfully break into the mass consumer consciousness”. Despite mixed reactions from audiences, the Mario game series should be thought of as a transmedia success and should be treated as such.

POKEMON

AN INTRODUCTION
Pokemon (also known as from the original Japan’s name, Poketto Monsuta) was first introduced through the appearance of video game based. It’s also a media franchise that was owned by the Nintendo (an International company), a video game company in Japan and it was created by one of the greatest game designer in Japan, Satoshi Tajirin. Apart from that, he’s also the originator of Game Freak (a Japanese video game developer). The first Pokemon game was published in a role-playing games through the device of a pair of inter-linkable Game Boy that was put together by Satoshi and the Game Freak crew.
Later on, Pokemon turns out to be the second most successful and gain a huge popularity from the video game in the world followed by Mario coming as first place at the front. As a result, it was the best seller game in the year of 1981. It wasn’t that long that Poekmon continues grows reaching the audience and they manage to launched other platforms such as films, comics, trading cards, merchandise such as toys and many more.

LONG LIVING
The first original game (Game Boy role-playing video games) was released back in 14 December, 1995. It then went on becoming more successful that it became a sequence of different new video games, continuing the generation of the Nintendo’s handhelds.

EXPANDABILITY
Initially, Pokemon did not designed to be transmedia but it still happens anyway because it manages being converged well into other media platforms and being really successful in every platform that was created. 

  • Films
 Pokemon is also well known in making films (animation film) that was successfully produced over many years since 1990’s. The first film “Pokemon the First Movie” was produced by three different people (Choji Yoshikawa, Tomoyuki Igarashi and Takemoto Mori) and directed by Kunihiko Yuyama. It was released in July, 1998 and the budget was 30 million dollars and its gross revenue - 163 million dollars. The first animation film was was extremely well known and it was also a box office success worldwide. The result enables the first production to continue in making the second animation film, “Pokemon the Movie 2000 - the Power of One”. It was produced and directed by the same group of people and it was released in July, 1999. The budget was 30 million dollars, it grosses 133 million dollars. After that, the production crew produced the third Pokemon animation film “Pokemon 3 - the Movie” and released it in July, 2000. The gross revenue was once again, gross more than the budget that was given to made the film. Because of it’s success, the production crew was fortunate to have the opportunity to produce a film with different narrative in the following years. The animations films continues with the production, “Pokemon - Mewtwo Returns”, “Pokemon 4ever”, “Pokemon Heroes”, “Pokemon Jirachi Wishmaker” and so many more. The animations and cartoons (which will be exaplain in the following dot point) has became such a big part of importance in the Pokemon’s history.  

  • Cartoons (Anime)
Apart from the films, Pokemon also has a range of cartoons (known as TV anime series) series that was also a huge success. The main target of the anime was aimed at the children and it was modified for the Western countries’s audiences such as Americans, Australians and European for television markets.The anime runs from April, 1997 and at the moment it’s still on going. The narratives at first was made on a single series on Pokemon but later on extend into four new series. On the other hand, Pokemon also has its own spin off launched apart from the films and animes. Pokemon Chronicles was one of the spin-off, it;s a side story that was created as a part of Weekly Pokemon Broadcasting Station. Another spin-off was the Pokemon Sunday, a show debuted on TV Tokyo back in October, 2004. Apparently even though the series became such a huge hit, there were also some issues that involves controversy in some of the episodes for some reason.

 
  • Music
Another fact that made Pokemon such a massive star was the Pokemon’s catchy theme song. There have been several Pokemon CD’s that was released in North America, most of them juxtaposed  with the theatrical releases of the first three Pokemon films. On the 27th March in 2007, it was Pokemon’s 10th anniversary and they released an album in remembering the success in Pokemon. The album contains 18 different soundtracks and it was the first English version album released over the five years.
 
  • Games
As mentioned earlier, Pokemon was claimed as the second most popular video games-based media franchise in the world followed by Mario leading number one in the rating list. The first video game that came together with the Game Boy began a series with a release of Pocket Monsters Red and Green in Japan. Slowly, Game Freak started to create different games, different contents and in different devices as the technology improves and becoming more and more advanced. The other devices in Pokemon games were computer games, Play Station, Xbox, Nintendo NDS (basically similar to Game Boy but much more advanced) and etcetera.
Apart from the video games-based itself, there was another game that got millions of people so addicted to it including the Pokemon’s fans, it was a game named “Trading Cards”. The trading cards is basically a collectible card game based on the Pokemon video games series that was first released in October, 1996 in Japan. In the trading game, there are 60 cards in total. There are 5 types of Pokemon cards; Pokemon, Energy, Stadium, Supporter and Trainers and each of the card provides a different monster character and charisma in it. The reason why Pokemon trading cards were so popular was because fans got to experience the adventures base on their favourite character in Pokemon’s narratives, getting a sense of how they fight off and collect the monsters in reality. But of course in the reality, the game works in a different method. So a player will compete with another or a several players by placing a Basic Pokemon and whoever has the highest amount of Hit Points which is also the level of evolution (used as tool to attack the opponent’s weakness), wins. In Japan, they even created and organized trading card tournaments in three different age categories, Junior (born in 1999 or later), Senior (born in 1995 - 1998) and Master (born in 1994 or earlier). Later on, tournaments were being held in different countries as well like United States.
 
  • Merchandise
Ever since Pokemon was developed and became extremely successful, merchandises such as toys, action figures, trading cards, clothing and others were sell all over the world. They also have websites where people can buy the merchandise online. One of the online store was found on Internet was http://www.toysnjoys.com/poketoys.html.

  • Conventions
Pokemon has held some conventions over the years in the whole world. Whenever there’s a convention being held at a location, fans and people get to go there to explore and experience the devices and gadgets.

SELF CONTAINED
The Pokemon's branches manage to be extend and be independent and still matches up with the originality of the content which is the first video game. The narrative in Pokemon is well self contained because they are easy to understand. The audiences can watch the films, TV series or play the game without needing to know the original content. Each branch has been branch out quite successfully, a few new modifications were made like adding new characters along the way but still sticks to the original stories. 

AUDIENCE RECEPTION
There’s no doubt that every media platform including the original Pokemon video game that has been created was being accepted well by the audiences. However, there were some “controversy” issues with the animes and the adults were complaining over some of the episodes did harmful things to their children. Pokemon was listed once in the Time Magazine in the list of “Ten Most Controversial Toons”. According to AnimeVice (Manga News), a few hundreds of children who were the audiences suffered from seizures, a type of symptom that caused by the use of strong red and blue lighting repetitively, affecting the children’s physically. Not only that, some of the episodes were also banned due to the inappropriate exposure and content that was created. The banned episodes includes the scene of girls dressing up in bikinis, the use of weapons such as bombs, the inappropriate use of cartoon “violence”, such and such. More than ten episodes were banned to released due to the reasons mentioned above and because the targeted audiences are mostly children, the media experts explain that such exposure and contents will do nothing good to them and it is highly unacceptable. In overall, Pokemon and it’s convergence is still successful because of the majority audiences, Pokemon’s developers manage to continue extend the contents in the transmedia field.

ECONOMICS
Although Pokemon was originally created base on video game at the first place, but the films and animes gross more or less the same amount of income in comparison to the game. On the April’s 2008, the collection of Pokemon’s video games has sold over 200 million copies. Out of all the Pokemon film’s production, the first movie still claims to be the best record in the box office records, the given budget was 30 million dollars, the gross revenue in United States was around 85 million dollars and the worldwide has a total gross of 163 million dollars. As for the animes, there wasn’t any gross revenue to be found anywhere however, there are more than six hundreds of episodes were produced and currently still on going. The anime were also released in other countries besides Japan such as big company in United States, the Cartoon Network.

CONCLUSION
Pokemon has indeed became very successful over the years and also in the transmedia storytelling. Even though Pokemon did not make it to the top best seller game compare to Mario, it certainly has a huge success in branching out and reaching millions of audiences into the video games, films, and animation. Pokemon in the present hasn’t been really stop yet, it’s still on going and some of the media platform has been modified in order to keep up with the current transmedia world.  

CONCLUSION

So what can we, as media practitioners learn from the success's and failures of Mario and Pokemon?
  • Content must extend and expand in terms of the narrative/story.
Mario and Pokemon have both been major successes within the gaming industry, with Mario coming out on top spot and Pokemon a close second. However from a transmedia perspective, Pokemon is by far and away the more successful of the two. Pokemon has succeeded Mario in this aspect due to its willingness to extend and expand its the narrative from its original intended storyline. This means audiences are willing to engage and interact more with new storylines involved and introduced and there is no point creating a piece of content that has already been seen or covered in the original text.