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Classic Games (Games) Games

Super Mario Bros. 3 Level Design Lessons 95

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Significant Bits about how the early level design in Super Mario Bros. 3 gradually introduced players to the game without needing something as blatant and obtrusive as a tutorial: "Super Mario Bros. 3 contains many obvious design lessons that are also present in other games, e.g., the gradual layering of complexity that allows players to master a specific mechanic. What surprised me during my playthrough, though, was how some of these lessons were completely optional. The game doesn't have any forced hand-holding, and it isn't afraid of the player simply exploring it at his own pace (even if it means circumventing chunks of the experience)."
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Super Mario Bros. 3 Level Design Lessons

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  • agreed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2011 @07:50AM (#34736454)

    The current industry standard today basically assumes the player is stupid and needs handholding, that is a sad fact, even though it opens up the games to a much wider audience than the one that played games back in the day of SMB3. I think nowadays people are very much afraid of introducing complexity in their games just because they will have to explain how the complexity works with a tutorial or similar, wich in turn requires more resources on design/tutorial building etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2011 @07:51AM (#34736456)

    The lesson is that level design still matters.

  • by RichiH ( 749257 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @08:08AM (#34736502) Homepage

    ...are this way. And that is a huge portion of what makes them awesome. Not only has the level design always been done with an incredible dedication to detail, surprises and general experience, many levels are as easy or hard as you'd like them. Just think the star (coin) system in the newer games. You can play through the game and never care for all the bonus stuff and it's still a nice experience. Or you can go after every devious bit.

    There's a reason why I own both a DS and a Wii and only break them out when a new Mario or Zelda game is released. (If Square Enix were to get their act together and release a true successor of Secret of Mana or Chrono Trigger, we could talk, too).

    tl;dr: I 3 Nintendo

  • by MasaMuneCyrus ( 779918 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @08:23AM (#34736536)

    Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii is a great example of classic level design. The beginning of the game shows the opening cinematic, and after that, Donkey Kong leaves his house, and left just standing there. After a few seconds, you move the joystick after the realization that, "Oh... The game just started."

    You're just thrown into the game. It guides you along the correct path, but it doesn't sit you down and teach you. You learn how to play for yourself gradually from the moment you touch the joystick.

    Donkey Kong Country Returns is how games used to be. This is how they are now. [buzzfeed.com]

  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @08:57AM (#34736672)
    This reminds me of well-done exposition [wikipedia.org] in movies or other fiction, where the audience is given a good amount of information about the characters or story, but in a way that is interesting and not disjoint from the presentation.
  • Re:agreed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by justinmikehunt ( 872382 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @10:29AM (#34737064)
    I agree to an extent. But things were also simpler back then. You move left or right, and press A or B. Now you have controllers with 78 different buttons on them, there is a higher degree of complexity there. Of course anyone who's played one FPS can pick up another and figure out the differences easily enough.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!