A few months ago, Shigeru Miyamoto told the Japanese Playboy magazine (don't ask) that Mario 128 would be fresh in ways that the critically acclaimed Mario Sunshine was not. At this, we all sat up and took notice, and when Miyamoto-san, addressing the company's pre-E3 press conference, confidently started comparing this year's announcement to his previous 'Celda' revelation, we all held our breath. Unfortunately, Mario didn't get a look in, and neither was he on the show floor a day later.
By the time the show ended, everyone had sat down and stopped taking notice of Mario 128 - mostly in sit-down F-Zero AC cabinets and Mario Kart network seats. There were, after all, plenty more interesting and more existent titles to get to grips with at this year's E3.
But news from Japan's Nintendo Dream magazine this month once again had us leaping shamelessly from our beanbags and muttering with excitement. According to a Nintendo spokesperson speaking to the magazine, Mario 128 was originally planned to debut at E3. In fact, despite its readiness, the decision not to show the game was taken, they say, in order to safeguard the game's startling originality. Apparently they feared that its new gameplay ideas, which will supposedly take the series in a new direction, might be stolen by competitors and subsequently released prior to the game itself.
Sceptics will of course wonder whether this isn't just a ruse to try and drum up excitement and stop more people flocking to the Sony and Microsoft camps. European Cube owners in particular, facing another long and arduous wait for their next big game, could well be on the brink of defection. Whether it works or not, we'll wait until we've seen the game before we start flying the flag of enthusiasm.
In the meantime, we ought to point out that despite some reports to the contrary, there's still no evidence that the "100 Marios" footage used to demonstrate the GameCube's abilities pre-launch has anything whatsoever to do with Mario 128.