Our March Madness single elimination tournament of video game vs. video game franchise continues. Behold, the second round of video game institutions arbitrarily battling it out for fanhood domination. Let's get moving.



(1) Mario vs. (2) Grand Theft Auto

A real clash of the titans here, and they don’t come much more diametrically opposed: Mario bathed in sunshine and hearts and just about everything sweet and light about video games while GTA is soaked in blood and sin, a banner-carrier for everything that’s wrong in our society with video game culture.

This is tough. GTA is a juggernaut, but as strong as any individual title has been, there’s something missing down at its roots. For all that new technology has promised us in the last console generation and presumably the next, the core GTA mechanic of driving around and causing mayhem has proven surprisingly resilient to being changed, no matter how freighted with moral quandary as in GTA IV or split up among different protagonists in GTA V. It’s reasonable to ask: Is this all there is?

But Mario.

Mario has moved forwards into each new generation of console with aplomb and double-jumping dexterity, even moving backwards into retro 2D gaming with a twist more recently. He’s an icon, and while GTA as a series is iconic, it can’t stand up to that kind of superstar status.