Mario Is More Popular In Japan When He’s Flat

by Ben Reeves on May 10, 2010 at 01:27 PM

Mario is beloved all over the world, but it seems that different countries prefer different versions of him. The Japanese, for example, seem not to care much for the 3D version of him, but can’t get enough of his 2D exploits.

The site Siliconera has some interesting facts to support this claim. It seems that Super Mario Galaxy has sold 8.84 million copies worldwide, but only about 1 million of those were bought in Japan. That doesn’t mean that Japan has fallen out of love with Mario, however, because last year the 2D platformer New Super Mario Bros. Wii sold nearly 3.6 million units in Japan in a fraction of the time Galaxy was on shelves.

One theory to explain this comes from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. “As we see it, one reason why a number of people who love 2D Mario do not want to play 3D Mario appears to be because they are afraid to be lost in the 3D world by not knowing the exact directions, while they feel that they can play with 2D Mario with no such issues,” Iwata explained to investors during a financial results briefing. To deal with this issue, Nintendo will be packing a DVD called Super Mario Galaxy 2 For Beginners – which will presumably teach newcomers how to play the game – with every copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2.

We’re not sure if we buy Iwata’s explanation or not. Almost sounds like Iwata is saying that the Japanese just aren’t as good at spatial navigation as other nations, and that doesn’t make sense to us.