Community Post: Mario, You Lead and I Shall Follow

Image by ManuelSagra

Image by ManuelSagra

As mentioned, until Saturday I’ll be putting up a community post every day, each one written by an awesome UWG contributor on the topic of Mario levels. You can also check out these posts (and others) UWG and the blogs of the other participants: Niall’s Ramblings, Games I Made My Girlfriend PlayGamer Crash, and The Duck of IndeedSo check them all out! Today’s post is by Cary, one of the UWG admins and blogger over at Recollections of PlayEnjoy!

No matter how many times Mario’s adventures are hashed and rehashed, games that prominently feature that famous plumber, his princess, and that evil dinosaur we call Bowser, remain fresh, fun, and playable dozens of times over. Mario games are level-driven games — you’ve got to make your way through stages or levels in a series of worlds in order to reach the final battle with Bowser. And only a few games, like Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG, have deviated from the platformer tradition started by Super Mario Bros. Despite that fact the games usually contain worlds of similar themes, each is unique in presentation and design. Even so, I will never cheer upon traversing a snowy/icy world because Mario is already slippery enough, no matter how many penguin suits he owns. I will never get excited for those pre-Bowser, fire worlds, as I will never have enough patience with lava and fireballs. So when it comes to my favorite Mario levels, there will be nary an ice storm or fire waterfall in site. But there will be something “big.” Curious? Read on!

Big Island (Level 4): Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

You’re going to find a recurring theme in my list — I like oversized Mario things. I really can’t explain why, but I’m almost certain that the seed for this quirk was planted upon first playing around in Big Island in Super Mario Bros. 3.  So like the moniker says, everything on Big Island, is …well big. The koopas, the goombas, the piranha plants, heck, even the clouds and backdrops are larger than life. I simply find it highly enjoyable to be a little Mario running around a land of giants, and being able to squash those giants as easily as anything!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh7QSjT7wTE

Video by YouTube user MegamanNG

Yoshi’s Island (Level 1): Super Mario World (SNES) 

Last week I wrote a post for UWG on the importance of any given game’s first mission or level or quest (embed link: http://wegameunited.com/2014/02/20/you-never-get-a-second-chance-at-a-first-level-impression/), and in it I mentioned how most Mario games have great lead-in levels. Yoshi’s Island in Super Mario World is a perfect example of this. Not only does this level contain a plethora of Yoshies (my favorite Mario character), but it’s a fun place to be generally. The individual worlds aren’t extremely difficult to traverse and there’s plenty to stomp on and collect. Plus, it introduces some of the best Mario musical theme renditions available.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnzkeG6e3ug

Video by YouTube user bpblu

Tiny-Huge Island (Level 13): Super Mario 64 (N64) 

Following in my preference for all-large-things-Mario is Tiny-Huge Island from Super Mario 64. But as much fun as it is to take on gargantuan enemies, this level is especially wonderful because it can be played in two different ways, with or without the giants. And it’s not just a matter of choosing to play one way or the other, you must play the level both ways, often switching between the tiny and huge, in order to get all the stars. Tiny-Huge Island occurs somewhat late in the game, and after repeatedly going through static level after static level, the notion of working through a level that changes, if only through the size of the enemies, is refreshing and welcome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-4b3dH5l8o

Video by YouTube user Nintendo64Movies

The “Invincible” Tubba Blubba (Level 3): Paper Mario (Gamecube)

I hold the two Paper Mario games I’ve played in pretty high regard as I enjoy not only the turn-based style of combat and the games’ stories, but I simply adore the graphics. It looks like the characters were all colored in and cut out of a coloring book — so cute! The “Invincible” Tubba Blubba level sticks out in my mind because it contains friendly boos. Little, ghostly boos have been haunting and taunting Mario for years, but in Paper Mario, Mario has to help save their town from the clutches of the ghost-eating Tubba Blubba. One ghost even helps you along the way! I love the role reversal, as it was something so in contrast to the traditional enemies in Mario games.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6IwI_PBPIE

Video by YouTube user luigifan64d

Soda Jungle (Level 5): New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U) 

Did you think I wasn’t going to end with yet another ode to the oversized?? I recently completed New Super Mario Bros. U and I think it’s the best interpretation going of Mario’s original Princess-saving story.  The Soda Jungle is a perilous place with acidic seas and other things to avoid, but it’s also got one level with  huge enemies and one level with an enormous wiggler that made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. It’s also a level with lots of variety, spanning from above ground to underground challenges. But by and large, that introduction to Giant Brick Blocks, Grand Goombas, and Gargantuan Koopa Troopas really made my day; and I love going back to that level simply because it brings me joy to do so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O26yW8fyiNw

Video by YouTube user At the Buzzer

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Community Post: Mario, The Innovator

As mentioned, until Saturday I’ll be putting up a community post every day, each one written by an awesome UWG contributor on the topic of Mario levels. You can also check out these posts (and others) UWG and the blogs of the other participants: Recollections of Play, Games I Made My Girlfriend PlayNiall’s Ramblings and The Duck of IndeedSo check them all out! Today’s post is by Derek from Gamer CrashEnjoy!
My childhood was dominated by Nintendo, it’s fearless red plumber and his crew. My first exposure to the world of video games came when I was very young with the Nintendo Entertainment System and of course, Super Mario Bros. It’s safe to say, I was hooked for life after pushing the jump button on the controller for the very first time. I’ve gone on countless adventures with Mario from his 8 bit days, all the way to modern times so there’s a lot of material to draw from when thinking about what aspects of a franchise you love. Have you ever stopped to think about why the Mario franchise continues to be a force after all these years?

Community Post: Mario, the Great Peacemaker

Image by apastor85

Image by apastor85

Since it’s Wednesday, here’s my UWG community post offering on my personal top 5 Mario levels ever!

Ah Mario, who doesn’t love you? It’s the one franchise that most gamers and even non-gamers can agree on. Its bright and cartoony graphics, simple controls, lack of any real plot and imaginative and fun characters make most Mario games unintimidating and very accessible for more casual gamers. At the same time, the depth of the levels, wealth of secrets and difficult gameplay at higher levels make it similarly popular with well seasoned gamers. For those of us who have been into gaming for a while, Mario represents a simpler time in games and brings to mind many of our most treasured gaming experiences of our youth. It’s easy to see why Mario remains a much loved franchise and has stuck around much longer than most. And the quality of titles hasn’t really waned. The release of more Mario games is a constant that many of us Nintendo fans have come to rely on, like the sun setting every day. So out of all the Mario games ever made, it’s difficult to choose a few levels as my favourites (also because the specifics of many of the older games have faded from my memory over the years), but below are the 5 that have stuck in my mind after all this time. They may not be the best designed or the most influential, but they all hold a special place in my heart.  Continue reading

Community Post: The Worlds Most Talented Plumber

As mentioned, until Saturday I’ll be putting up a community post every day, each one written by an awesome UWG contributor on the topic of Mario levels. I’m participating too of course, so you’ll be able to check out my post on Wednesday. You can also check out these posts (and others) UWG and the blogs of the other participants: Recollections of Play, Games I Made My Girlfriend PlayGamer Crash, and The Duck of IndeedSo check them all out! Today’s post is by Niall from Niall’s RamblingsEnjoy!

Image by  JD Hancock

Image by JD Hancock

He’s probably the most iconic video games character of all time, having now appeared in over 200 games, and sold over 240 million copies in his time, Mario is a plumber that hasn’t done too bad for himself! This week the United We Game bloggers are going to each be discussing the levels behind the legend, what makes them so good, standout levels and how an Italian plumber, ran, jumped and dropped in their favourite games.

My experiences with Mario started at a young age, i was bought a Nintendo 64 for Christmas and fell in love with Super Mario 64 and MarioKart, in my mind still 2 of the finest games he has appeared in to date, but to be honest, since those days i’ve not played many more, when i started playing Playstation and Xbox i never really looked back, but this doesn’t mean i’ve not played any of the more recent titles, i think Super Mario Galaxy was a great game and on the DS Super Mario World is always a great play.
I figured that the best way for me to do this would be to whittle down all the maps and levels on Mario games and come up with my favourite 3.

Community Post: A Mario Level for Every Player

As mentioned, until Saturday I’ll be putting up a community post every day, each one written by an awesome UWG contributor on the topic of Mario levels. I’m participating too of course, so you’ll be able to check out my post on Wednesday. You can also check out these posts (and others) UWG and the blogs of the other participants: Recollections of Play, Niall’s RamblingsGamer Crash, and The Duck of IndeedSo check them all out! Today’s post is by the Chip from Games I Made My Girlfriend PlayEnjoy!

My earliest experiences with the Mario Brothers were not spent playing, but reading the instruction manual while watching my younger brother play the very first game on our Nintendo Entertainment System.  As I scoured over the game controls and characters, my brother would play through this relatively new experience with the ease of a much older gamer.  All of Mario’s moves seemed natural to him, as if he had traveled these fantastic worlds for years.  The reality of the situation is that my brother has better eye-to-hand coordination than I do, but the level design of Super Mario Brothers had something to do with his genius as well. Continue reading

Community Post: The Levels Make the Plumber

I’m back! And I told you something good was coming! From today until next Saturday, I’ll be putting up a community post every day, each one written by an awesome UWG contributor on the topic of Mario levels. I’m participating too of course, so you’ll be able to check out my post on Wednesday. You can also check out these posts (and others) UWG and the blogs of the other participants: Recollections of Play, Games I Made My Girlfriend PlayNiall’s RamblingsGamer Crash, and The Duck of Indeed. So check them all out! Without further ado, here’s Hatm0nster, one of the admins of UWG!

Image by Flickr User: daveynin

Image by Flickr User: daveynin

Mario has been Nintendo’s flagship franchise since they first burst onto the scene with Super Mario Brothers for the NES (Or with the Donkey Kong arcade game if you want to get technical). It takes quite a bit to maintain that kind of staying power for more than 25 years, and we can rest assured that it’s not the portly plumber himself who’d the cause for the series overwhelming success. No, instead it’s always been Nintendo’s ingenious ability to consistently push the boundaries of level design as we know it. Nearly every main series entry has shown us new ways to explore the world with our mustachioed friend, and has left long-time fans with a lifetime’s worth of memorable locations that we can’t help but mentally revisit from time to time. The following are but just a few of my personal favorites. Continue reading