I was reading an article on Game Zone that tries to come up with the best 10 Mario levels of all time. What he quickly realizes is that all of the games are SO GOOD...that narrowing it down to 10 is impossible. My favorite quote from the author: " But that's always been the problem with Mario: his games are just too good for any one fan to quantify."
So, this got me thinking about why Mario games are so good...which made my head explode. Super Mario Galaxy might be the greatest platformer ever created (in my opinion), but it's like the 150th Mario game...so how on earth does each continue to be so special? The short answer is Shigeru Miyamoto and I will not begin to say I understand his brilliance, but I do see some things that contribute to Mario's success.
The mechanics of Mario have not changed since the beginning. Sure, new things have been added and the game has even transitioned into 3D...but the feel of Mario is always there. They were able to focus in very tightly on what exactly makes a Mario game tick and never strayed from that in any iteration. It doesn't hurt that the same man was to some extent behind every version of the game created and could ensure that consistency.
All of the games also have a very unique look and feel. I could probably show flash cards of any mario level to someone, removing even Mario and the enemies, and most people could name the game. Even the audio has remained consistent.
Whenever I work on a sequel to a game there is always a lot of worry that the game will be too much like the original and not unique enough. I think the Mario series is the shining example that some wheels do not need to be re-invented and if you focus tightly enough on what makes a game great...people will always want to buy more of it.
You should follow me on Twitter here or subscribe to this blog's feed. If you're a regular reader please support the blog by doing your gaming purchases at Amazon.com