Before I begin the speculation, let me bring everyone up to speed. Not too long ago, gamers discovered that Nintendo had registered supermario4.com. When you go there, it redirects you to Nintendo’s country selector. Now normally when you enter some bonkers domain name, either you’ll go to a “domain not found” page, or a page from a domain squatter. But here, you can see that Super Mario 4 is most certainly Nintendo’s. Then in an interview with Korean site Betanews, Miyamoto confirmed that his team was in fact making Super Mario 4 for the Wii U. However, he didn’t specify what exactly this new Mario game would be: a 3D or 2D platformer. Here’s where we start guessing what this could be.
So Super Mario 4. This could probably be just the code name for the next game. I mean, there was Mario 128, which was rumored to become Super Mario Galaxy. Then again, the number “4” could mean something. Nintendo did let out Mario Kart 7, which did sound like a code name and was the seventh entry in the series (minus the arcade outings). In the whole Mario platformer series, only a handful of games had numbers in the title. At first I thought this “4” might be corresponding to the the last numbered Mario game, Super Mario Bros. 3. Then I remembered… in Japan, Super Mario World for the Super Famicom is preceded by “Super Mario Bros. 4” in the title. In an early SNES commercial, it briefly showed Super Mario World‘s title screen with the Super Mario Bros. 4 moniker still intact (must’ve been the Japanese version they used). So no one knows for sure which title might be correct since in other regions, Super Mario World was called that while Japan was the only region (that I know of) that had “Super Mario Bros 4.” in the title.
Nintendo does have a history of dropping numbers for subsequent titles. Yoshi’s Island‘s full name was Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. It was even referred to this in-game. Yoshi’s Story and Yoshi’s Island DS lacked the Mario Bros. name. Before Square-Enix broke all naming conventions, Nintendo ported earlier 2D Mario games to the GBA and confuzzled the whole numbering scheme of the series. Super Mario World (the 4th numbered game in Japan) was now Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2, Yoshi’s Island (the second World game) was now Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island, and SMB3 was now Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3. What could this all mean? Well, besides Super Mario Galaxy 2, every numbered entry was a 2D platformer. In many regions, Super Mario World wasn’t known as Super Mario Bros. 4. So Nintendo might ignore that and simply call this next 2D platformer “Super Mario 4,” much like how Sega made a Sonic The Hedgehog 4 even though either Sonic Adventure or Sonic Advance could be considered 4th entries. There’s also the New Super Mario Bros. duo of games, but those are not numbered, suggesting that those might be re-imaginings of the original Super Mario Bros. game.
Now this explanation might be a little more straightforward. Super Mario 64 was the first. Then the second was Super Mario Sunshine. The 3rd entry was Super Mario Galaxy. SMG2 is not a canonical 4th entry as it was more of an expansion and tied to Mario Galaxy (like Final Fantasy X-2 and XIII-2 to their respective prequels). So that leaves a fourth entry open. Now some might think that Super Mario 3D Land is the fourth entry. However “Land” suggests that this is part of the handheld Super Mario Land series. So we still have an opening. Plus, look at the domain and titles. Super Mario 4 lacks “Bros.” in it. All 3D platformers don’t have “Bros.” in the title either. So judging by this, Super Mario 4 might be a 3D Platformer.
What ever the case may be, we can rest assured that the Wii U is getting a Mario game. The question is when. If Nintendo decides to show Super Mario 4 at E3 and shock the audience by announcing it as a launch title, then this will be the first time a Nintendo Console has launched with a new Mario game since the Nintendo 64 and Super Mario 64. Let’s just hope Nintendo doesn’t rename the game Super Mari-U.