John, what do you make of Malstrom´s latest post?..he talks about what he think is wrong with Nintendo.Let me put it here.
Let's begin our discussion! (I'll finish rebutting Mummelmann inbetween talk of the Sean Malstrom situation with you.)
I started writing this post the day after you wrote it on January 2nd.
But instead of making one giant overgrown post, I'm going to directly respond to your specific Malstrom posts in separate replies.
Consider this an intro to the discussion.
I like Sean Malstrom. I like him a lot. Even though I can't find it on his site anymore his Theory of Cycles piece I considered FACT.
Tabletop gaming to Arcade gaming to Cinematic gaming to Social/Interactive gaming.
That was some of the most brilliant stuff I had ever read & it made me an instant supporter of him.
He has a very unique way of viewing the business & his views have weight & merit.
That said, I feel that sometimes he gets stuck. REALLY stuck. SEVERELY stuck.
He gets caught up in his views so deeply that he sometimes get lost in his own narrative. Misses the point in the process.
A few years ago I read him compare the 3D Marios to the 2D Marios & while he had a point about them putting more love behind their 3D Marios (the musical choices for instance), he chose to entirely put down the 3D Marios instead of merely appreciating the 2D Marios more.
It's almost like he wished Nintendo never stopped putting out 2D Mario platformers & ONLY 2D Mario platformers.
A sample of his gripes:
Email: A Fire Broke Out Among Nintendo's Core
Email: Lapsed Gamers agree on Mario Galaxy
Email: NSMB and bahs bahs
I think he misses understanding that Nintendo likes to change & keep things fresh.
When Yoshi's Island came out in 1995, Nintendo had pretty much done all they could do with a 2D Mario platformer design wise at that point.
They had been doing these Mario platformer games since Donkey Kong in 1981.
Before I address Malstrom words, listen as I breakdown the playing mechanics of the Mario platforming series.
I will prove my point about Sean Malstrom getting stuck as I exhaustively recount the shift from 2D to 3D.
It's exhaustive on purpose because I want to show you the exact details of how this series developed.
•1981's Donkey Kong had Mario run, jump, & climb without falling too far. Smash-ready Hammers are your powerup.
•1982's Donkey Kong Jr. inverted not only the entire mechanic but even the protagonists with hero, damsel, & villain all switching places.
Hero Mario becomes villain. Villain Donkey Kong becomes damsel. Damsel Pauline the helpless girl becomes hero Donkey Kong Jr. the helpless baby.
And in Mario's place Donkey Kong Jr. now climbs, jumps, & runs. Totally inverted. Brilliant design choice that many overlook.
Falling fruit becomes your powerup of sorts.
•1983's Mario Bros. takes out climbing & adds platform punching to the jump mechanic. Upturning platforms from jumping into the ceiling.
Also they added a competitive/cooperative simultaneous 2-player aspect with an alternate Mario AKA Luigi.
Slipping can happen when Slipice AKA Freezie ices a platform.
The earthquaking POW Block functions as powerup of sorts.
In each one of these very distinct games the game takes place on a single black-background screen.
The edges of the screen in the first 2 was the wall while Mario Bros. made the edge a gateway to the other side of the screen as if the stage was actually circular & connected.
Should Nintendo have stayed with the single-screen black background design in making Mario platformers or should they try to experiment with new design implementations? You know what's coming next.
•1985's Super Mario Bros. builds off of what was established in 1983's Mario Bros. with the platform bouncing from jumps but puts it in an entirely new world which makes this sequel not even seem like a sequel at all but a whole new series.
The run mechanic now has 2 speeds thanks to the nature of the NES controller. Fast & faster which affects how jumps can be made.
The jump mechanic is much more expressed in this title & now can you can alter trajectory & intensity of jump mid-air.
With the jump mechanic strengthened, Mario was able to fall from any height unlike his earlier days.
This fall-from-anywhere aspect of design was actually made in 1983's Mario Bros. but the nature of the platforms prevent you from seeing it outright.
It was always a pretty hard-to-believe story that this middle-aged fat working-class man could jump over barrels & run through those construction site obstacle courses to save his girl in Donkey Kong.
That was part of the game's & character's charm. The ordinary man who could do extraordinary things.
They took the natural conclusion with Mario & Luigi in those Brooklyn sewers as they took out of the death from falling too far aspect.
And now in this super-powered adventure where Mario gets Alice in Wonderland-like power-ups that made him grow big, shoot fire, & become invincible through the power of the stars, everyman Mario becomes the unlikely Everyman Superhero.
There was so much they added to this game. The colorful backgrounds with scenery. A game that doesn't stay on a single screen but scrolls to the right.
A focus on uncovering secrets was added whether it be bouncing up a brick or '?' block & finding a repeating coin bank or a Magic Mushroom/Fire Flower/Starman, going down a pipe to reveal an underground treasure trove, or accidentally jumping into mid-air to find a hidden block that might just give you a 1UP Mushroom.
And now Mario can crouch when he's the big Super Mario which might allow you to pull off tricks to get into small spaces.
Climbing is back but only peripherally with the hidden beanstalks that lead you into Coin Heaven.
Unlike 1983's Mario Bros. bouncing from under (platform punching) is not necessarily the only way to dispose of foes.
For the first time you can straight up JUMP ON them! Jumpman still living up to his name after all.
Enemies are set up for numerous scoring & extra life opportunities. Jumping on a series of enemies in succession will eventually multiply the score & give you extra lives (turtles on the stairs?). Some enemies don't squash when you step on 'em so you can kick them into enemies & score/1UP in succession that way.
Then there's the asymmetry in play where sometimes jumping on isn't the answer like with the Spiny & to some extent the Hammer Brothers.
Sometimes blindly jumping & running is not advisable. Somewhat like in Donkey Kong you have to be strategical & play avoidantly.
There's a big boss turtle at the end which you shoot up with fireballs or run under to cut the bridge with the axe.
Jumping over him MAY work but hmm...I wouldn't recommend it. Especially when he starts becoming the 3rd Hammer Brother.
Weight physics show themselves on the floating scale platforms which go down the longer you stand on them.
No slipping this time around even in the white colored snow stages.
Oh & then they added swim mechanics derived from their flying game Balloon Fight. THIS GAME HAD IT ALL!!
Well...all except the simultaneous 2-player we got from Mario Bros. Just alternating this time around & for LONG time afterward.
Would we have that if they stayed working in the static single-screen black background style of the Golden Age of Arcades?
Nintendo made MASSIVE changes to the Mario platform formula & we got that landmark SMB from it.
There was probably somebody like Malstrom back then lamenting these changes & depatures from the past.
•1986's Super Mario Bros. 0.2 (as I like to call it) AKA The Lost Levels acts as an expansion pack giving us everything we got from Super Mario Bros. but with screwball difficulty meant to just 'F' with you. It was for Super Players after all.
One of those screw moves is the Poison Mushroom. We expect good things to come from '?' Blocks & then this F U to the player is a powerDOWN!
Mario (& Luigi) is now established to run, run faster, jump, jump farther, crouch, swim, climb, platform punch and/or break, & shoot fireballs in a massive colorful scroll-to-the-right track-and-field obstacle course (complete with the same weight scale mechanics).
But they did something interesting with the Bros. this time around. They varied the values of HOW Mario & Luigi could run & jump.
Mario acted like we expected him to act from the last game but now Luigi jumps higher & farther yet also slides further.
Luigi is more slippery to offset the jump advantage. He's not just another Mario for Player 2 to play. He has his own stats & personality.
Not to forget, the jump on mechanic is tweaked to where you can get a upward boost from jumping on an enemy.
But this game is not 2-player anymore. Just a 1-player game that allows you to pick either of the Bros.
•1988's Super Mario Bros. 2 (the REAL one all along. Confirmed. Dream Factory: Doki Doki Panic was tacked onto this Mario game in development) decided to overhaul the existing Mario platformer mechanics AGAIN.
No longer are we stuck with a scroll to the right adventure. We can now go BACK! Not just that but we can now go UP & DOWN!
They were now fully exploring the X & Y axes of 2D. A vertical scroller AND a horizontal scroller. But they didn't stop there.
Instead of the jump on & squash mechanic of Super Mario Bros. and the jump up & block bounce mechanic of Mario Bros., they built this game around jump on, pick up, carry, & throw. Changed the entire nature of the gameplay.
There were a few enemies you couldn't stand on (Phanto, Spark) but for the most part each enemy could become a makeshift platform.
The whole game is pretty much about making platforms instead of breaking platforms (Mushroom Blocks anyone?).
Except in certain stages like the desert stages where you break platforms by digging (the pick-up mechanic on sand).
And they added ANOTHER aspect to the jumping mechanic, the POWER Jump. The charged-up jump that you make from a still crouching position.
You already had your regular jump & your big running jumps but now you could make a big jump from a flatfoot position.
Climbing is no longer peripheral & is back in a major way although not quite in the Donkey Kong Jr. setup. Vines, poles, & ladders galore.
The climb drop allows you to break a climb without having to jump over to the right or left to get off.
No swimming this time around since all water in the game is in rushing waterfalls style. Can't swim Niagara.
Yet the slipping seen in 1983's Mario Bros. returns on the ice-cube platforms of World 4.
And no weight mechanics on falling scale platforms but they still exist through sinking by quicksand.
While Super Mario Bros. & Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels focused on surprises in the air, Super Mario Bros. 2 focuses on surprises in the ground.
Is that stalk in the ground a vegetable sprout, a full-sized vegetable, a turtle shell, a bomb, a POW block (they're baaaack), a magic potion, a stopwatch, a 1UP Mushroom, or a rocketship? Hey. What's this door coming out of this potion? Subspace?!
Backwards negative image of the world I came from with hidden mushrooms on the ground & coins from the grass stalks??? SURPRISE!
Since the game is about making platforms than breaking platforms, Starmen don't come from punching hidden blocks.
They just creep up on the stage subtlely & casually after you get enough cherries. But you won't know that at first making it a surprise.
Hearts comes up in a similar way after you defeat enough enemies back to back.
Powerups are fleeting in this game. A use once & discard variety instead of the Fire Mario that is semi-permanent.
But that is because you are not bound by your powerups to have strength. You have a potential 4 part health bar.
Even being small doesn't keep you from using those abilities. It just means that you're one hit away from dying.
And you can use any enemy as a weapon so game is more dependent on self-strength than depending on powerups exclusively.
Small Mario/Luigi can't break bricks or shoot fire in Super Mario Bros./The Lost Levels but small Mario & Luigi can still throw bombs, POW blocks, turtle shells, & vegetables at the enemies.
Very important need when dealing with the varied bosses SMB 2 threw at you! Birdo, Mouser, Tricylde, Fryguy, Clawgrip, & Wart himself!
All Bowser & the pseudo-Bowsers did was blow fire & maybe hammers at you.
And building off of what was done in The Lost Levels, we not only get a choice between the 2 Bros. but NOW we even get to pick that Mushroom Retainer guy & that Princess Toadstool gal!
And each of the selections Mario, Luigi, Toad, & Princess Peach are each marked with different stats & abiltiies.
Mario is pretty balanced being pretty fast with picking up things, not too slowed by carrying them around, & could jump pretty good.
Luigi is a little slower with picking up things, a little more slowed by carrying them around but could jump MUCH higher & farther with his twiggly little legs bicycling the whole way.
Toad somehow is THE FASTEST with picking up things & is not slowed AT ALL by carrying them around (low center of gravity perhaps?) but couldn't jump his way out of a wet paper bag!
Princess Peach is THE SLOWEST with picking up things & is slowed TREMENDOUSLY by carrying them around (she's not an amazon just a girly girl) yet her jump can go the farthest & even has this floating hangtime thing going on which makes it pretty cool (gown aerodynamics I guess).
Each stage was more friendly to one character over another & you had to decide which character would be best to tackle each stage.
Super Mario Bros. 2 was such a depature from Super Mario Bros. 1 that you STILL got some people grumbling about it (those complaints are invalid by the way).
It's sort of like Zelda 1 & Zelda 2 with people so dismayed at how different Zelda 2 is to the series.
Both SMB 2 & Zelda 2 added so much play/structure to their series that has become definitive & it shows Nintendo's inherent ability to keep things fresh & grow rather than just stay in the same vein all the time.
•1988's Super Mario Bros. 3 blends what was done in Super Mario Bros. 2 with what was established in Super Mario Bros. 1.
We're back to the Bros. only this time, Mario & Luigi, in alternating equal-abled 2-player with the established mechanics of run/run faster, jump/jump farther, crouch, swim, climb/climb drop, platform punch/break, jump on...
...but NOW we also have the ability to FLY!
The Power Jump is no longer done in a standstill crouching fashion like in Super Mario Bros. 2 but is now done in a running start fashion with a meter to show how much speed you build up before reaching the maximum 'P'.
The newly named Super Mushroom (too many drug references with the Magic Mushroom) still gives you the ability to grow big & break platforms in jump.
The Fire Flower returns to allow you to shoot fireballs at the enemies.
But now we have this strange Super Leaf which when combined with the maximum Power Jump allows you to temporarily fly in the air with a "raccoon's" tail (we know it's a tanuki's tail).
With that tail, we can also flutter down softly to the ground instead of swiftly dropping.
Not just that but the tail also allows us to swing it at enemies swiping them out from the side. Very useful tail!
We might even be so lucky as to find the full-fledged version of that "raccoon" with the Tanooki Suit.
All the stuff done with the Super Leaf AND the ability to turn into a stone Japanese statue.
This can be used to avoid enemies in camouflage or even drop down & squash them if you turn to a statue in the air.
Yet this is just a sample of the new powers the Mario Bros. have in this masterpiece.
To make swimming easier aside from the new ability to jump upwards out of water, we have the Frog Suit which allows for precision straight-lined swimming (and rough frog movement out of water).
We can finally get our revenge against those irritating Hammer Bros. with the Hammer Bros. Suit which allows us to throw hammers & even become fireproof when crouched.
There's the P-Wing which is a Super Leaf on steroids allowing for continuous flight per stage.
There's even this little one-off item called the Kuribo's Shoe AKA Goomba's Shoe which allows you to step on the unsteppable.
And yes Starman's still here giving you that samba-themed invincibility power if you find him in hidden blocks. Bust that somersault!
Not to forget this go-round we now have the ability to strategically store powerups in inventory outside of the stages.
Feels like I'm leaving something out. OH YES!
There's ANOTHER new ability to add to the Mario play mechanic called sliding downhill.
With the stages having sloped hills for the first time ever, when you attempt to crouch you begin sliding down the hill & & wiping out the enemies below you.
You can now jump up into some pipes instead of always crouching down.
You still get an upward boost from jumping on an enemy just like in The Lost Levels.
And like the power jump was changed from SMB2 to SMB3, the pick up, carry, & throw mechanic changes here too.
Instead of picking up from the top, we pick up from the sides. And we only do this with certain enemies like Koopa Troopas & the Bob-Ombs (who escape Mario's dreams of Subcon in SMB2 to join the fun in SMB3).
Carrying isn't automatic from the pickup like it was in SMB2 & now you have to actively hold the button to carry.
Throwing is a release of that button instead of another button press like in SMB2.
And both the slipping mechanic introduced in Mario Bros. & the weight mechanic introduced in Super Mario Bros. return with the icey slippery stages of World 6 & the fragile fall-prone Donut Lift platforms as well as sinking by quicksand.
Unlike Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3 moves seamlessly & fluidly between vertical & horizontal stages.
There's not this portion for horizontal & this portion for vertical. Many stages combine both within the same stage allowing you full access to the 2D plane.
The new forced scroll feature in some stages makes sure you stay on the move.
And the overworld map with branching paths leading to Toad Houses, Spade Panels, Treasure Ships & even a classic Mario Bros. battle with Luigi allows you to have some choice on where to advance on the next stage.
Secrets in the stages, on the overworld map, everywhere. Warp Whistle to the Warp Zone???
As much as Super Mario Bros. 2 added to Mario platformers, Super Mario Bros. 3 added the same volume ensuring that the Mario series was the blue chip standard for gameplay.
Imagine if Nintendo never left the single-screen static black background type of design because an industry observer didn't want to see change.
•1989's Super Mario Land at first glance looks to be pretty much a single-player Game Boy tribute to Super Mario Bros. 1.
Pretty much everything established from Super Mario Bros. with run/run faster, jump/jump farther, crouch, platform punch/break...
...except this time there are no bounding fireballs from the Fire Flower but little black Superballs that bounce off surfaces diagonally much like the red fireballs did in 1983's Mario Bros.
Weight platform mechanics are still here with the little cubical canister-like blocks that fall if you stand on them too long.
But you'll notice I didn't put in climb or swim this time. And there's a reason.
Climbing IS in Super Mario Land but only passively in the bonus stages.
And there ARE underwater stages in Super Mario Land but instead of tiring himself out swimming with his own body, Mario gets smart & takes a vehicle with him!
The Marine Pop allows you travel the waters & shoot torpedoes at the enemies!
Adds a little bit of Defender & Gradius action to the Mario series. Space shooter mechanics underwater.
Mario also gets tired of flying with own his own body too. He now has a Sky Pop which allows you to travel the skies & shoot missiles at the enemies!
That's how you take out that Tatanga, Mario! Now get some action from your side chick Daisy!
Keep this game in mind for later because there's aspects of this game mechanic that will show up in an unexpected way.
Thankfully not that odd Can-Can music you hear when you get the Starman! Only samba music for my stars please!
•1990's Super Mario World is the first entry into the 16-bit world for the Mario series (2-player alternating returns).
But you can tell its NES development roots based on how many parallels in design this game has with Super Mario Bros. 3.
After all, this game was once called simply Super Mario Bros. 4.
Let's go over the established mechanics of Super Mario Bros. 3 that return in this game.
Run/run faster, jump/jump farther, running power jump, fly, flutter down, swing sideswipe, crouch, climb/climb drop, swim, jump up out of water, platform punch, jump on/jump on upward boost, jump up into pipes, slide downhill, pick up (from sides), carry, throw, shoot fireballs, become invincible, store powerups in inventory.
Much of what was established in Super Mario Bros. 3 returns for Super Mario World.
But there's some new tweaks with these mechanics yet again.
The running power jump no longer has a visible & audible 'P' meter. With the graphical improvements of 16-bit, you are forced to watch Mario & Luigi have their arms signal their full power as they make like airplane wings.
Furthermore, we're no longer turning into raccoon-like tanukis to fly, flutter, & swingswipe.
With the powers of the Cape Feather, the Everyman Superheroes finally have their own Capes like Superman!
This cape adds new tweaks to the fly mechanic. With a tricky button input, the Bros. can now windsurf & dive bomb as they use the Cape as a sail in the air.
Windsurfing acts as a manual P-Wing theoretically allowing you turn each stage into flyover country.
Dive bombing creates an earthquake that crumbles the enemies on the ground.
If you land on the ground while windsurfing, you can even bellycrush enemies & boost up & forward from the crush!
The same boost happens if you happen to divebomb on a tough ground enemy like the gridiron-inspired Chargin' Chuck.
At any time in the air you can still swingswipe & flutter down gently with your Cape.
And you can see your running power jump easier with Cape as it fills with air from the run instead of flagging.
Jumping isn't just relegated to regular jump/speed jump/power jump either.
Now we have the Spin Jump. Mario & Luigi do their best Michael Jackson impersonation with a jump that can outright crush enemies or even allow you to step on the unsteppable like spiked-back Spinies. Jump-on boosts still apply.
With the big power of the Super Mushroom you can break blocks from above & with the power of the Fire Flower you can even shoot fire roundhouse-style like a water sprinkler.
Using it with the Cape gives you an automatic swingswipe.
Climbing is further expanded in this game where it becomes more like scaling when you climb the fences & gates in all directions.
Not only that but you can also fence punch enemies on the other side of the fences to defeat them.
And using fence punches on a gate panel in the fence allows you to climb & scale (& fence punch) the fence from behind.
Getting above enemies where they see the bottom of your shoes, knocks them off just as jumping on does.
And you can get point & 1UP combos easier since you don't touch the ground.
There's even a climb jump you can perform anywhere on the fence that can take you vertical, horizontal, or a combination of both just like a regular jump.
Climb drops are still performable too if needed.
The Bros. have another new but subtle ability & that is the ability to look upwards.
It not only helps them get a better view of surroundings but it becomes useful in the pick up, carry, & throw mechanic.
Now when you pick up an enemy or an ice block, you have the option to throw them upwards into the air.
On the ground, jumping in the air, it doesn't matter. Now you can throw horizontally AND vertically.
The crouch has been paired with a similar ability to look downwards though no down throws are available.
However now there's a function to do the drop. When carrying an enemy or block, by holding down while you let go of the carry button, you can just softly drop the thing you're carrying instead of always kicking it away when you let go.
This move adds even more complexity & nuance to the attack strategies.
And holding things underwater now gives the Bros. this odd underwater jet-ski motion as they trickily surf the seas with item in hand.
Also with the new L & R shoulder buttons we also have the ability to look further to the left & further to the right.
Other miscellaneous additions. Only one powerup stored in inventory at a time as opposed to the suitcase-style storage you had before.
The advantage here is that with the Select button you can call on that stored power anytime you need it.
You had to wait for the Overworld Map before in Super Mario Bros. 3.
Platforms don't break from below anymore. They flip like a coin if you hit them from below.
They can only be broken from the top with a Spin Jump & only if you're at least Super Mario.
For certain items like the ice blocks, you can pick them up from the top OR the sides adding back a little more of that Super Mario Bros. 2 design.
In certain stages there's this P-Balloon that makes Mario & Luigi puff up like a balloon & slowly float upwards for a short amount of time.
They can still be guided as they float though.
On the rare ice stages we still see slipping but we don't have any quicksand for sinking here.
Weight mechanic gets a workout with falling wooden platforms like in Super Mario Bros. 3 but ALSO ADDING the ability to lean chained platforms one way or another based on where you stand. More weight physics!
But most impressive is the ability to run upside walls thanks to the Triangular Block.
They took the already outstanding Super Mario Bros. 3 & crammed even MORE play potential into Super Mario World!
Many of those special suits are gone now but look at how much they put into this game play-wise!
Well, hold on to your hat because I'm gonna show you why they omitted most of those suits in SMW.
His name is Yoshi. A green dinosaur/dragon who comes from the locale Super Mario World is set in, Yoshi's Island of Dinosaur Land.
This is one powerup that transcends all the rest. You hit a '?' Block & if you see this white green-speckled egg pop out, business is about to pick up as Jim Ross would say.
You jump on Yoshi & he becomes your reptilian steed where you ride on him like a horseman.
But this horse don't eat hay, he eats enemies! He can stick out his tongue & eat enemies WHOLE! "GULP!" just like that.
Some enemies don't go down so easy like Koopa Troopa shells, so he can hold them in his mouth until he can get 'em down.
OR if you prefer he can spit the shell out to knock over anything in its path just like the Bros. do when they kick 'em around.
And if you eat a certain color of shell Yoshi gets special powers! Green don't do nothing for the green-colored Yoshi.
But eat a red shell & Yoshi can spit hot fire! Fire with a 3-point spread!
Eat a yellow one & Yoshi can cause earthquakes with dust clouds for extra measure!
Eat a blue one & Yoshi can fly indefinitely!! No need for the manual P-Wing functions of the Cape with this around!
If you somehow find a rainbow-spectrum shell (from the crazy yellow Koopa who gets invincible after returning to a shell), you can do ALL THREE of these things!!! Fire, Earthquakes, AND Flying!!!
Wait wait, it's not over. There's more. Yes more!
Yoshi can step on the unsteppable & keep on truckin' much like the Kuribo's Shoe (Goomba's Shoe) & the Spin Jump.
If you somehow get hit while on Yoshi, you don't lose power. Instead of you're just knocked off Yoshi while he runs in panic across the ground.
All you have to do is jump back on him & you can reclaim your jurassic "horse".
Best yet, the stages have memory of Yoshi so he doesn't disappear when he's offscreen. Just follow him.
This is good to know if you choose to dismount him with your Spin Jump.
As a matter of fact, cruel as it may be you can dismount Yoshi mid-jump & get an extra jump boost to clear those cliffs.
Best of all, if you find a pair of Yoshi's Wings, green Yoshi turns into a blue Yoshi that flies to Coin Heaven & then retains his blue color after he leaves!!
Oh it's not over yet. Still more.
Speaking of the color changes, there are baby Yoshis found on Star Road. One red, one yellow, one blue.
You can pick up & carry this baby Yoshis just like a shell or block or key & these babies can eat the enemies placed in front of it!
And if you feed these baby Yoshis 5 enemies, they grow up into adult Yoshis colored red, yellow, or blue.
A red adult Yoshi can eat ANY Koopa shell & spit fire with it.
A yellow adult Yoshi can eat ANY Koopa shell & make earthquakes with it.
A blue adult Yoshi can eat ANY Koopa shell & fly in the sky with it.
Knowing this about the color-coding (which just happens to match the Super Famicom controller buttons), Yoshi's Wings are more valuable than Buffalo Wings with the Ranch!
Not to mention that all adult Yoshis can eat these odd berries on the bushes with their tongues or mouths.
10 red ones eaten in the same stage will cause Yoshi to lay an egg that hatches into a Super Mushroom.
2 pink ones eaten in the same stage will cause Yoshi to lay an egg that hatches into a coin-throwing cloud that will give you a 1UP Mushroom if you got all the coins.
And each rare green berry eaten adds 20 seconds to the timer.
DAMN. That's a lot of stuff.
As much as Super Mario Bros. 2 added to the series, as much as Super Mario Bros. 3 added to the series, Super Mario World somehow added EVEN MORE & at this point it was hard to see how much more they could improve upon this.
Nearly a decade of Mario platform games (1981 to 1990) & look how far they had taken the mechanics beyond run, jump, & climb.
•1992's Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins acts as a Game Boy representative of both Super Mario Bros. 3 & Super Mario World graphically & playwise.
The game is single-player once again (Luigi disrespect grows in the 1990s) & for the first time ever we see the appearance of Wario, the anti-Mario, the bad Mario who has taken over your property. Give 'em credit for the interesting plot.
Run/run faster, jump/jump farther, spin jump, crouch, swim, jump up out of water, flutter down, platform punch/break (also from above with spin jump), pick up, carry, throw, jump up into pipes, shoot fireballs, become invincible.
These are the abilties you have in Super Mario Land 2.
Outside of the abilties that did not carry over from SMB3 & SMW like flying, power jumping, sliding downhill, & storing inventory among many others, play is much the same as SMB3 & SMW.
About the only real difference here is the appearance of Rabbit Mario that you get from the Carrot.
The rabbit ears Rabbit Mario gets make him flutter down like the Raccoon/Tanuki Tail & the Cape.
But that's all it does is flutter. It don't fly. However, it flutters at such a near 90° angle, that you almost get the same effect as flying unlike the tail & cape.
No need for a running power jump to get you started. That flutter can be pulled off anywhere at anytime.
This would be the last original non-remake/non-reissue Mario platformer on a handheld for 14 years (until 2006's New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS).
The Super Mario Land series got taken over by its breakout star Wario & soon converted into the Wario Land series starting with 1994's Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3.
There just wasn't much more to do at the time with 2D Mario platformers. What more could they add?
The developers had pretty much exhausted all ideas as I have extensively detailed.
You notice in the 1990s that Nintendo was beginning to seriously extend Mario away from his platforming roots.
I mean Mario has always been put into various genres & scenarios since near the beginning with the Game & Watch.
1983's Mario's Cement Factory (Tabletop & Widescreen versions) had elevator lifts & platforms but no jumping as he empties cement from the vats into the cement mixers.
1983's Mario's Bombs Away (from the Panorama series) has Mario act as a soldier in a jungle war zone carrying a bomb from one side to the other keeping it from fires & flames.
1983's Mario Bros. (from the Multi-Screen series) has Mario & Luigi working at a bottling plant packaging crates of bottles on an assembly line to put on the delivery truck.
1985's Wrecking Crew for the NES has the Mario Bros. work on a demolition crew tearing down walls.
There's the cameos in 1983's Pinball as a moving paddle; 1984's Golf as a golfer; 1984's Tennis & 1987's Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! as the referee; 1988's Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally as a Formula 1 racer (with Luigi).
But by the 1990s Nintendo was seriously doing their best to do new things with Mario besides platformers.
1990's Dr. Mario (NES), 1991's Mario Teaches Typing (PC/DOS), 1991's NES Open Tournament Golf (NES), Super Mario Bros. Print World (PC/DOS), 1992's Mario Paint (SNES), 1992's Super Mario Kart (SNES), 1993's Mario Is Missing! (SNES), 1993's Mario's Time Machine (SNES), 1994's Mario's Early Years! Fun with numbers/Fun with Letters/Preschool Fun (SNES/PC-DOS), 1995's Mario's Picross (GB), Mario's Tennis (VB), Mario's Game Gallery/Mario's FUNdamentals (PC/DOS), Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES).
Mario's 2D platform preeminence was being passed over to Wario, Donkey Kong, & Yoshi during this time.
You see this as Super Mario Land morphs into Wario Land, you see this with Donkey Kong Country, & you see this with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi Island.
And with the different characters, there were newer fresher things they could do without being tied to ever-building play mechanics when Mario & Luigi were the protagonists (Wario's Drunkenness in Wario Land II, Tag-team switching of the Kongs in the Donkey Kong Country series, the crying Baby Mario mechanic of Yoshi's Island).
They used Mario to launch new series & concepts instead of continually trying to make a better & better 2D Mario platformer.
Seriously at that point how could they top that?
I'm sure this is the dilemma the developers had at this time. And you could see this as they begin to DECONSTRUCT the Everyman Superhero a little bit.
To do this, they take it back to where it all started.
•1994's Donkey Kong for the Game Boy is both a tribute to/remake of the 1981 original AND a deconstruction of the out-of-control powers Mario had acquired over the years.
Gone are the superpowers, supersuits, & dinosaur pals. No more flying in the sky & falling from any height.
While Mario is more able & agile than he was in 1981's Donkey Kong, he's MUCH more fragile & can die if he falls from a high enough height.
In this game, Mario can run but not run faster, jump but not jump farther, climb just as he did in Donkey Kong & just how DK Jr. did in Donkey Kong Jr., crouch, handstand/handstand walk, high jump from handstand, back flip, spin on ropes & swing high/far, pick up (from above like in SMB2), carry, throw/throw upwards, activate levers, tuck & roll from medium falls, & swim.
In handstand position he can repel certain projectiles with his feet.
If hit while carrying something, he gains temporary invulernability as the hit makes him drop the item.
If Donkey Kong Jr. throws a Poison Mushroom at him, Mario temporarily shrinks & loses some abilties like swimming & climbing.
There are weight mechanics with certain platforms that can make them drop when stood upon.
And Mario's old powerup the Super Hammer can not only smash enemies but can be thrown vertically upwards & caught on a higher platform for more smashing.
It's still pretty amazing that a fat middle-aged guy can pull off all of this but this game puts Mario back on a level with an Everyman Hero than an Everyman Superhero.
The developers were tired of cramming so many abilities into the existing 2D Mario platform design.
They were relieved to experiment with other characters like in Wario Land, Donkey Kong Country, Yoshi's Island & deconstruct Mario's abilities here in Donkey Kong '94. At this point deconstruction felt fresh.
•1995's Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island did inversions to Super Mario World much like Donkey Kong Jr. did to Donkey Kong.
Yoshi was once the passive assistant now he's the active hero. Mario was once the active hero now he's the passive passenger.
Adult Mario once carried Baby Yoshis now Adult Yoshis carry Baby Mario. Luigi was once an equal hero now he's a subordinate damsel.
When Yoshi got hit while Mario rode him. Yoshi would run off wildly on the ground. Mario uses his jump ability on Yoshi to restore order.
Now when Yoshi got hit while Baby Mario rode him, Baby Mario would fly off wildly in the air. Yoshi uses his tongue ability on Baby Mario to restore order.
Yoshi eats a lot of little Starmen & they have no effect on him directly much less invincibility. Makes sense.
Yoshi was a "power" himself in Super Mario World & all these little Starmen do is buy more time to recapture Baby Mario.
But when a big Starman, a Super Star shows up & Yoshi touches it, the game reverts to the status quo Mario mechanic with an invincible Baby Mario running on the ground with that Super Mario World Cape walking up walls & floating down from the sky.
Active & Passive roles switch with Yoshi cocooning in his Yoshi egg being carried along for the ride.
Since Yoshi is not Mario, his abilities are a little different.
He can run THEN run faster (based on how long you hold the Control Pad not from an independent action button press); he can jump & flutter jump WAY farther; he can duck similar to Mario's crouch; he can paddle on the surface of water but won't swim under the surface (possibly for Baby Mario's sake); he can stick out his tongue in multiple directions to eat enemies & items, push back Bandits, pop Baby Mario's crying bubble, draw in eggs laying around, & even halt the movement of moving eggs; he can spit enemies out as a projectile; he can lay eggs from eaten enemies; he can aim, target, & shoot those eggs at enemies, objects, & soil; and he can do this mid-air butt drop called the ground pound which can drive stakes into the ground, bust open crates, plow through soil & even earthquake nearby enemies turning them into stars; not to mention Yoshi can look up & have the camera scroll up or scroll down when he ducks just like in Super Mario World.
Since dino Yoshi is a power himself you would think he wouldn't have any extra abilities, right?
Following suit with Yoshi's fruit eating in Super Mario World, if Yoshi eats a Watermelon (whole or half-eaten) he is able to spit seeds at enemies like bullets.
Yoshi even gets to have item inventory (usable anytime on all stages except boss stages) where he gets to hold a Super Green Watermelon that allows him to spit lots of seeds; a Super Red Watermelon that allows him to spit fire; a Super Blue Watermelon to blow ice breath; an Anywhere POW Block that can be used earthquake the stage...anywhere; a Winged Cloud Maker which turns all enemies into Winged Clouds with goodies inside like coins, stars, even 1UPs; a Magnifying Glass that reveals the secret Red Coins & Winged Clouds in a stage; a Full Egg that fills Yoshi's 6 egg-ammo limit; a 10-Point or 20-Point Star count which gives more time to recapture Baby Mario.
And while it's not so much of a powerup so to speak, Yoshi can even get tipsy when he eats the Fuzzy! YOSHI'S HIGH...on life.
Oh, remember that Super Mario Land vehicle stuff I told you to keep in mind earlier? Check this out.
Yoshi gets to transform into VEHICLES! Hit certain vehicle-holding bubbles (Morph Bubbles) & Yoshi gets to temporarily transform into that vehicle as Baby Mario takes shelter in that bubble.
There's the Yoshi Helicopter which allows him to fly around the stage just like a helicopter; the Yoshi Mole Tank which allows him to tunnel through soil like a mole; the Yoshi Submarine which allows him to cruise underwater & shoot torpedoes, the Yoshi Car which allows him to drive fast on the ground, run up walls, even stilt its wheels to avoid enemies; the Yoshi Train which allows him to travel on tracks in the background.
Yoshi even gets to become Ski Yoshi after entering a ski house & zoom down slopes making ski jumps.
If he messes up on a jump he gets to become the invincible but uncontrollable Snowball Yoshi tumbling down the slopes & wiping out all in his path.
And there's still weight mechanics involved with seesaws, platforms that fall when stood upon, & Chomp Rocks that roll based on where you stand on them.
Yoshi can duck down into pipes or jump up into them just like the Mario Bros. did.
Yoshi gets to have a "Yoshi" of his own with the odd-looking dog Poochy who can run through hazards unscathed & even try to jump over walls giving you a boost.
There's Muddy Buddy the mudball which after touching Yoshi allows Yoshi to safely walk on spikes with his mudfoots.
There's Huffin' Puffin', a mother bird that you can take her baby chicks from & aim, target, & shoot them like "boomerang" eggs (they come back to you).
And there's even stages that have little globes you walk all the way around as if they have their own gravity!
This game is JAM-PACKED!!
Is that all? Is it over now? Are we finished with the breakdown? Yes.
There's a reason why I elaborated on the Mario series like this.
Sean Malstrom said that if Nintendo sold Super Mario Bros. 5 on the Nintendo 64 he would have bought it.
Would a 2D Super Mario Bros. game have sold well on the N64? Probably.
But would the Mario platformer series have curtailed its growth & longevity if Nintendo made that move? Most likely.
There was simply not much more they could cram into the Mario 2D platformer design to keep it feeling fresh at that point.
The developers were probably getting tired of working within those established confines & trying to outdo themselves.
Just as they have always done they wanted to experiment & try new things. Push new boundaries.
It was going on 15 years, a decade & a half since this red-hatted overall wearing superstar showed up at that construction site.
Nintendo went from single-screen black backgrounds with screen-edge walls in Donkey Kong & Donkey Kong Jr. to single-screen black backgrounds with connected screen edges in Mario Bros.
They went from single-screen black backgrounds to scrolling-screen color backgrounds in Super Mario Bros. & Super Mario Bros. 0.2.
They went from scroll-from-right screens to full-fledged horizontal & vertical scrolling screens in Super Mario Bros. 2.
They went from situational horizontal & vertical scrolling screens to seamless horizontal-to-vertical scrolling screens in Super Mario Bros. 3.
They went from focusing on the abilities of a single protagonist to focusing on the abilties of a tag team of protagonists in Super Mario World & Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.
And what was developed in these games was carried over in further experiments in games like Super Mario Land, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, Wario Land II, Wario Land 3, Wario Land 4, Donkey Kong '94, Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble, Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Land 2, Donkey Kong Land III & Yoshi's Story.
It was time to move on to new frontiers & Nintendo—the innovative company that they are—did just that in 1996.
After fully exploring what they could do in 2D, they took Mario into the world of 3D with 1996's Super Mario 64.
Gameplay felt familiar to what was established in Mario platformers yet new at the same time because of the new dimension.
Run-jump-climb was just the beginning. Triple jumps, somersaults, backflips, long jumps, wall jumps, spin jumps, jump-dives.
Run, walk, tiptoe. Climb, scale fences, & handstand off poles & trees. Crouch & crawl. Swim, paddle, & "jet ski" with Koopa shell underwater. Punch & kick. Punch-kick combo. Jump kick. Baseball slide. Breakdance kick. Dive. Ground pound. Jump on. Jump out of water. Hang & drop from ledges. Pick up, carry, SWING, throw & drop. Sink in water, walk through fire, & run through enemies as Metal Mario. Walk through walls & enemies as Vanish Mario. Fly & skysurf as Wing Mario. Move camera all around in zoom or pan fashion to make sure you don't miss any of this full-range 3D action!
Just imagine if they actually had Luigi around for this one! It would be even more stuff to deal with!
They continued to experiment with 2002's Super Mario Sunshine.
Took away Mario's fisticuffs to focus on his new water-spouting buddy F.L.U.D.D. (much like Yoshi was Mario's new dino buddy).
Almost all the stuff you could do in Super Mario 64 but now you use F.L.U.D.D to spray clean sludge & graffiti with its Squirt Nozzle, hang in the air with its Hover Nozzle, launch to the sky with its Rocket Nozzle, speed on land or water opening doorways with the Turbo Nozzle.
Mario's old buddy Yoshi even shows up for the action (not passively like in SM64) eating enemies, flutter jumping with big altitude, & spraying juice like F.L.U.D.D. sprays water.
The fact is if Nintendo DIDN'T take that departure from 2D Mario platformers 2006's New Super Mario Bros. might not have been so welcome.
Nintendo branched out Mario to Mario Kart, Mario Paint, Super Mario RPG, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, Mario Party, Super Smash Bros., Paper Mario, Mario & Luigi, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Mario Baseball, Mario Strikers...
...while even allowing the characters who inherited his 2D platformer legacy to branch out to other styles of gaming themselves.
Wario World, WarioWare, Wario: Master of Disguise, Donkey Konga, DK King of Swing, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, Yoshi Topsy-Turvy, Yoshi Touch & Go.
They even started letting other characters of the Mario universe try new things or old things in new ways.
Luigi's Mansion & Super Princess Peach are a few examples.
They gave people a chance to miss 2D Mario a little bit & THAT'S what made New Super Mario Bros. hit.
Nintendo further develops 3D Mario with 2007's Super Mario Galaxy & 2010's Super Mario Galaxy 2.
While Malstrom is stuck in his narrative that 3D Mario is unworthy, Super Mario Galaxy shows the lineage by having the globes I mentioned in 1995's Yoshi's Island work in a 3D perspective. That was the first thing I thought of when I played it.
They're still developing & elaborating on their existing structure but he can't see that because he's stuck thinking Mario should only remain in 2D.
There were things they wanted to explore in 3D just like there were things they wanted to explore in scrolling screen with color backgrounds...
...just like there were things they wanted to explore vertical scrolling screens, just like there were things they wanted to explore in seamless scrolling screens, just like there were things they wanted to explore with tag team protagonists like Yoshi.
And they were beginning to notice a gap between 3D Mario & 2D Mario which is why you saw them begin to spice both Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 with 2D stages.
Nintendo with the advance in technology finally can add something novel to 2D Mario & that is the return of simultaneous multiplayer.
2009's New Super Mario Bros. Wii puts the Mario Bros. back into the Mario Bros. series with the cooperative/competitive player mechanic!
We hadn't seen this in a Mario platformer since 1983's Mario Bros!
Well there WAS the Mario vs. Luigi mode in 2006's New Super Mario Bros. so maybe that was a clue for their future direction.
But it's not just Mario & Luigi this time. It's 4-player simultaneous multiplayer with a couple of Toads to round out the cast!!
2 × 2!! 2²!! Two Squared!! Two to the Second Power!! That simple equation adds SO much to the playability to this rich-heritaged gaming experience that it's no wonder this game drove Nintendo's Wii to record-selling status 2 holiday seasons in a row!
They liked their explorations in 3D, they liked their well-tread heritage in 2D. Why not have the best of both worlds?
Why not make a 3D Mario platformer that feels & plays more like a 2D Mario platformer?
This is what we got in 2011's Super Mario 3D Land & that game was instrumental in jumpstarting the struggling 3DS.
They wanted to tilt the established 2D Mario mechanics towards insane coin collecting in 2012's New Super Mario Bros. 2.
They wanted to see how a 5th player in God mode would interact in the simultaneous 4 player action with 2012's New Super Mario Bros. U.
With 2 established best-selling game builds for Mario platformers, 2D & 3D, they wanted to explore that bridge title they made in 2011 a little further.
What better way to do this but to introduce true multiplayer to 2013's Super Mario 3D World (not just Star Bit catching like in Galaxy).
No, not just multiplayer. SIMULTANEOUS multiplayer. No, not just simultaneous multiplayer.
4-PLAYER SIMULTANEOUS MULTIPLAYER! 4-Player Simultaneous Multiplayer with the old Super Mario Bros. 2 lineup!
Mario, Luigi, Toad, & Princess Peach!! For once she's not kidnapped so we get a fresh plot with fresh gameplay.
Both 2D & 3D meet in massive 4-player simultaneous multiplayer MASTERPIECE!
Who in the hell could hate that? Who in the hell can't see the lineage it comes from?
That it is STILL building from the roots of a game from 1981 called Donkey Kong.
All of this Super Mario 3D World excitement is ultimately built off of a 32 year old arcade game with a fat middle-aged working man climbing a construction site to save his girl from an angry gorilla.
It's not that Mario needs to stay only 2D or only 3D.
It's that Nintendo should ALWAYS explore the possibilities & experiment to push new boundaries like they have ALWAYS done.
That's why they remain the lifeblood of this business.
I like Sean Malstrom but he gets stuck & sometimes misses the point.
And he has missed it GREATLY when he compares Nintendo's present to Nintendo's past.
He talks about wanting Super Mario Bros. 5 & never realizes that he never got Donkey Kong 5.
What construction site or jungle with a walled single-screen black background should Mario have played in?
Nintendo's way is to honor their past while pioneering for the future.
I think Sean Malstrom needs to respect that more.
Alright, direct replies to your Sean Malstrom posts follow next.