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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2011 @08:08AM (#34736500)

    The lesson is that level design still matters.

    No, that has always been the obvious part that only retards didn't understand.

    The real lesson here is that players do not have to be spoon fed and guided around and that games don't have to require that the players follow a certain script/path.

  • by simon0411 ( 1921684 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @08:26AM (#34736548)

    Love the speed run demos they included in New Super Mario Bros., which really illustrate your point. Sure, one could play through every stage in a straight forward fashion, or one could play through without losing star power the entire stage, while getting a dozen extra lives with a single turtle shell, or without ever touching the ground. In the hands of a creative player, the depth of the classic Mario game play truly shines.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2011 @09:46AM (#34736864)

    Agreed. And I think they reached perfection with Super Mario Galaxy, which starts out requiring only simple motions, but constantly adds complexity throughout a very long game. By the end, you're an expert, and the game requires extremely complex maneuvers to complete. And when Galaxy 2 was released, there was a lot more you could do early in the game if you are already familiar with the advanced controls.

    Super Mario 64 could have been as good (I know most people bow before it) if only it hadn't been plagued by a frustrating camera. Zelda - Ocarina of Time had a much better camera in the same era, and succeeded like Mario Galaxy at introducing complexity.

  • Re:agreed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @01:30PM (#34738096)

    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.

    On the contrary, this is exactly what the article was talking about.

    The earlier SMB 3 levels were easy, yet the later SMB 3 levels where phenomenally hard (World 8 and those ships), especially for younger audiences.

    This is something that has been forgotten in game design, the gradual increase in difficulty. Now days it's a sudden increase (Crysis), start at max level (S.T.A.L.K.E.R.) or don't even bother with it (Bioshock). SMB3 introduced you to the game mechanics slowly whilst allowing the player to still have fun (in case you've forgotten, that is why we play games).

    I'd like to see more of the SMB 3 kind of gradual increase but unfortunately the big dev companies seem to hate it when things get to hard for the mouth breathers. Something about lost profits.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson