A Mario Trio of Bullet Point Essays
Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 3:38PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Classical Game Design, Structuralism

While combing through Super Mario Bros. to write the Mario Melodies series, three topics/ideas/details in particular jumped out at me. I don't have enough material/time to expand these ideas into essays. So, it's that time again for a few "bullet point essays."

Mario Out of His Element

For all of these reasons, the water levels in Super Mario Bros. put Mario out of his element. Though the controls are familiar to land levels, it's clear that Mario simply doesn't belong underwater. Perhaps this is why there is roughly 1 water "level" for every 5 land levels. After all, the enemy and level elements underwater aren't designed with a lot of interplay.

Mario Looks Before He Leaps

6 bricks is the largest size pit in the game
The largest jump-able pit

The same pit when the screen scrolls up to it
Because design choices were made to aid and inform the player before challenging them, Super Mario Bros. is a game where the player is free to set their own pace and play style to their liking to make the experience the most fun for them. Such a fine level of design that keeps the player in mind is crucial for creating games that are fun even when losing. In Super Mario Bros. a bomb can't randomly explode and kill you. And a creature can't spawn/pop out of some secret location and attack you. When someone dies in Super Mario Bros. they know it was their fault instead of the game's fault. Being able to quickly identify the human error makes players want to give it another try.

Coins: Gotta Catch Them All

coin heaven

With these sound ideas behind the placement of every coin the player is empowered by their own adventurous spirit, ambition, or greed.

Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (http://critical-gaming.com/).
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