Nintendo

Developers discuss what makes the Mario games so magical

A number of developers have paid tribute to Nintendo’s iconic Mario in the latest edition of Retro Gamer. They were asked why they thought Mario games were so magical? Developers such as John Romero, Ste Pickford, Chris Sutherland, Derek Yu and Julian “Jaz” Rignall explained exactly why the series is so beloved by gamers the world over. You can read their full thoughts in the latest edition of Retro Gamer.

Jon Romero reveals how “the amazing control and the huge amount of variety in the eight worlds” led to id Software pitching a PC conversion of Super Mario Bros 3 to Nintendo, while Ste Pickford is impressed by Mario’s ‘jumping on enemies to kill them’ mechanic, telling us “it annoys me when it’s used in other games as it feels like a unique feature of Mario, and one that you shouldn’t rip off.”

Derek Yu’s Spelunky was inspired by the Super Mario series with Derek revealing that “one thing I studied closely while working on Spelunky were the little touches in Mario games – the ‘poofs’ that appear when Mario runs, the sparkles that appear when he grabs a coin, etc. For me, a big reason why Mario is so enjoyable are those flourishes that we’re not always conscious of but we definitely feel as we play.”

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10 comments

  1. The key to Mario’s widespread appeal, the 2-D appeal at least, is in simple inputs leading to complex and diverse outputs.

    More niche games, “gamer” games, have an overwhelming tendency to confuse complexity for depth. To find and kill an enemy, you press one button to open up your map, search it, select a point on the map, run there, then press 1,3,4,3,2,3,4 in order to execute the moved to kill it. The first time you do this, it is engaging. The ten-thousandth, less so, because your actual interaction with the game isn’t significantly evolved from just jumping on a Goomba’s head. You haven’t improved the gameplay, you’ve bloated it. Gamers tend to be fine with this, because we adapt to the added steps quickly. We even ourselves tend to confuse the complexity for depth (Not a judgement, I do it too). Normies just have no tolerance for the bloat. They tune out completely.

    2-D Mario at its core simplifies the inputs to its base most elements, but provides seemingly endless depth in outputs. All you’re doing is using a run button and a jump button, but what happens in response to when and how you use those buttons creates levels of interaction far in advance of most games.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The thing I dislike about Mario games is just the difficulty. There’s like no progression to where the games get harder the further you go. You can always beat the last level and the last boss even when you’re on the first world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I always felt that what sets Mario games apart at least for me, is the way everything seems to fit. The way he jumps, the way the height, length and curve of the jumps feel natural. The way levels are layed out… And yes, the Mario gems have become too easy, but that’s really just a sign of the times.

    Liked by 1 person

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