The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

Martinet and Nostalgia; A Legendary Retirement Reflects Gaming’s Retro Trends

Gage Skidmore
Charles Martinet, voice actor of Mario for 30 years, speaks at the 2018 Phoenix Comic Fest.

On August 21, 2023 a bombshell announcement hit gaming. Charles Martinet, after a near 30-year career behind the video game icon, retired from his role as Mario’s voice actor. Reactions were varied — publications everywhere reported feverishly on his announcement, while fans worldwide lamented the loss of a legend. Meanwhile, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto reminisced in a video on Martinet’s talent, dedication, and, briefly, his surprising height. 

Initially, I fell into the second category. I felt my fair share of surprise, discussed it with other fans, and moved on. But in retrospection, something wider about the announcement became apparent. Martinet’s retirement could reflect on one of the games market’s most relevant trends: nostalgia. 

To see why, one must consider the breadth of Martinet’s legacy. He voiced Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi in addition to Mario, appearing in over 150 games between the roles. The red-hatted plumber wasn’t your average video game voice, either. Martinet put an unexpectedly energetic twist on Mario. His take on the character — alongside the catchphrases he invented for him — featured in some of video gaming’s most important titles. This includes Super Mario 64, one of Martinet’s most iconic roles, and the game frequently credited for building the framework for 3D games. 

All that is to say that Martinet’s retirement, as Washington Post gaming reporter Gene Park puts it, “is really an end of an era.” And with gaming, ends of eras act as a prime place to start looking for nostalgic market trends. 

 One might look towards the 2010s’ initial wave of 8-bit nostalgia as an example. About two decades after 16-bit made the style mostly irrelevant, 8-bit indie titles flooded the market, with Shovel Knight (2014) and Celeste (2018) marking some of the most successful. Meanwhile, larger companies scrambled to release retro collections — products like Nintendo’s NES mini even became infamous for being bought repeatedly out of stock. 

What’s interesting is how these titles each appealed to a different subdivision of retro nostalgia: while a game like Celeste replicated the era’s pinpoint precise platforming, Shovel Knight emphasized its graphical style, lighthearted stories, and concise level-to-boss structure. 

Martinet’s retirement, considering his career’s memorability as well as the significance of the titles he featured in, may mark such a nostalgic subdivision. Publications’ language regarding the event already seem to indicate this. For example, The Guardian’s headline read: “voice of Mario retiring after three decades,” placing specific emphasis on the time separating the franchise before and after Martinet’s retirement. 

All of this indicates future division between games before and after Martinet’s career. Assuming a nostalgic subdivision forms across these lines, one can predict aspects of oncoming trends. Most prominently, Mario titles released during Martinet’s career might be released together in future retro collections. By proxy, nostalgia for games inspired by that era of Mario could also be entangled, resulting in unique angles for future retrospection in th industry to occur from.   

On the whole, Martinet’s retirement is particularly fascinating for the truths it recalls regarding gaming nostalgia. Far from just being a uniform market trend to exploit, video game nostalgia grows in strange patterns and subdivisions, resulting in games which appeal to different aspects across those lines and potentially even result in something new. In the coming decades Martinet’s retirement will doubtlessly influence its own nostalgic lines, resulting in retrospection and titles which preserve his career for posterity.

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