Official Super Mario-themed skins, worlds, and music are finally coming to the Wii U edition of Minecraft. Minecraft and Mario should have made sweet blocky babies ages ago, but there's no point in dwelling on that. What matters is the update is coming, it's hefty, and it's free.
The Mario / Minecraft pairing, officially titled the Super Mario Mash-Up, will be available for download on May 17 according to a press release distributed earlier today by Nintendo. When the Wii U edition of Minecraft hits retail on June 17, the $29.99 USD disc will also include the Super Mario Mash-Up content.
The update includes a heap of skins, including Mario and many of his suited alter-egos (the Tanooki, Propeller Mario, Dr Mario), Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, Toad, Wario, Waluigi (waaa!), Kamek, the Koopalings, and lots more. Minecraft's iconic Creeper and Skeleton enemies also get a make-over as Hammer Brothers and Dry Bones.
The Mash-Up includes a big pre-made Mario-themed world for you to rip up. If you'd rather, you can build and create using some new-yet-familiar materials, like bricks, Question Blocks, and Note Blocks. There are even a handful of tunes from Super Mario 64 to accompany you as you move through Mario's strange new world.
The Super Mario Mash-Up looks to be a chunk of fun, and if you have a Wii U, it's a nice alternative to installing cumbersome mods for a taste of Mario-flavored Minecraft. Sure, the Wii U is basically all used up at this point, but Minecraft's enduring popularity demonstrates that the game is a huge pull regardless of what platform it's on. Despite its late release next to every other iteration of Minecraft, Minecraft for the Wii U is a very strong seller, especially in Japan.
Over the past year or so, Nintendo's made it clear one of its key strategies for growth will be to sow its brands and characters in a wider arc. Ideally, doing so will keep Mario in the minds of older gamers while the youngsters of the world get to know the plumber and his pals through increased exposure. The Super Mario Mash-Up is a particularly strong way to plant Nintendo brand recognition in people's minds. Kids are nuts about Minecraft. It isn't going away. Kids like Mario too, but no doubt Nintendo realizes Minecraft's Steve is practically an idol. The company seemingly aims to nuzzle its way into Mojang's world and siphon a bit of that worship, which is hardly a bad idea.
Nintendo appears to be quietly thoughtful about the development and launch of the NX. There are rumors that lots of cool games are lined up for the system's debut, including the new Legend of Zelda (confirmed) and a new Smash Bros. Given the success of Minecraft Wii U (and given how much profit Nintendo potentially missed out on by joining the Minecraft party years late), launching the NX with a version of Minecraft is a no-brainer at this point.
A Minecraft: NX Edition would turn some heads on its own, but imagine if the game came pre-installed with the Super Mario Mash-Up content in addition to skins and level packs for The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Earthbound. You won't find too many people, young or old, who'd say no to that.