Mario Bros (1983)
Shigeru Miyamoto’s Mario Bros is a spin-off to Donkey Kong (1981) and Donkey Kong JR (1982). Mario, the protagonist in this game, appears in both of the previously mentioned games. In Donkey Kong Mario is also the hero of story whereas in DKJ he plays the role of the antagonist. Another main character was added to the Mario franchise through this game, this being Mario’s brother Luigi.
A couple of minor differences on the backstory of Mario was changed due to the development of this game. An example is of the character being a carpenter in the original series and a plumber from the release of Mario Bros. This is because Miyamoto believed that Mario’s design in the earlier games made him look more like a plumber, and so the game was based around this concept. Miyamoto also drew inspiration for the game from backgrounds of some anime, which included large pipes and similar items, this is also said to have inspired Mario’s occupation.
To add to the driving plot, that Miyamoto’s game are known for, it was decided that Mario and Luigi would be Italian-American plumbers whose goal within this game was to save New York City from the abnormal creatures found in the pipes beneath the city.
Miyamoto has been praised by many for the general aesthetic around the Mario series, which arguably could date back to Donkey Kong. He was determined to use a bright colour palette throughout the game which can be perceived through the smaller elements of the design. For example, Luigi was designed like he is as he is a complete palette swap of his brother. Additionally, this intricacy can be noticed when looking at the pipes. The colour of the pipes are bright green, which is an unusual colour for the items, Miyamoto kept them a green colour as he only had a limited bright colour palette and wanted them to stand out.
The gameplay of Mario Bros follows as so, the player must aim to defeat all of the enemies in the sewers. The player can achieve this by flipping the foe over onto their back and furthermore kicking them off-screen. Mario and Luigi can knock the enemies onto their backs by hitting the platform, from below, on which the enemy is standing on. This was an original idea at the time, and is why the enemies are based on turtles, as they seemed more of a likely character to be taken out from a hit below them. Some early versions of the game were created so that the player would only have to knock the rival onto its back, however, the gameplay was dubbed as being too easy and the kicking element was removed. The player then kicks the character off screen to defeat them and will continue to do this until the phase is clear and an additional phase starts. If the player was to flip an enemy and leave it for too long, it would get back on its feet and increase in speed, adding a level of difficulty to the game. Additionally, the mechanics of the game are simple, just being able to control either protagonist to jump or run. And furthermore, the game operated a mechanic whereby if a player was to go off the side of the screen they would appear back the other side in a loop.
There are four enemies that are prevalent in this Mario game, these being:
- Shellcreeper: Which is just known to walk around.
- Sidestepper: This foe requires two hits to flip over.
- Fighterfly: This character is more difficult to defeat, as he bounces to move although can only be flipped when he is touching the ground.
- Slipice: Who turns the platform they are on into slippery surfaces covered with ice, however, is defeated immediately upon being flipped over.
Additionally, as is the form in most video games, other elements have been added to the gameplay to increase difficulty. Fireballs can be seen to bounce around, back-and-forth, around the screen. And icicles can form on the underside of platforms which can fall down. However, the game also gives the player the chance to use items helpful to them. One example can be the POW block, which will flip all enemies touching a platform. Another are the bonus rounds within the game that allow the player/s to collect as many coins as possible without any present enemies.
Despite the game being released in the midst of the infamous video game crash of 1983, the game was not affected, still bringing in praise from both the public and critics.