The Classic Super Mario Brothers series always sought to immerse the players into the world. The Big Blue Sky was of major importance within Super Mario Brothers. But in that game, you could go underground, go into the sky, go into the water, and even go in castles. The music, sound effects, and enemies changed in order to immerse the player in the environment.
Above: This music made you feel immersed as if you were underwater.
Above: This music makes you feel like you are in the sky.
Above: You actually felt like you were in the Vanilla Dome with this type of music and 16-bit graphics.
Here is what I’m talking about:
This commercial could not be used for any of the NSMB games. Nintendo cannot say that the new NSMB game’s ‘suddenly, the sky is a little clearer, the water is a little bluer, the road is a little bumpier’, etc’.
Every Super Mario Brothers game was a hit due to pushing graphics/sound… i.e. immersion. The commercial is proof enough for Super Mario World which was the flagship game for the 16-bit SNES console. Obviously, Super Mario World had to show off those 16-bit graphics to make people want to buy the SNES.
Super Mario Brothers 3′s immersion was way beyond the previous Marios. There were even maps where you could choose your own levels! And each world was more differentiated than ever.
Super Mario Brothers 2 (Doki Doki Panic) was extremely hot in large part because you could go backwards and were better immersed in the environment. You could not go backwards in Mario 1. And the graphics of Super Mario Brothers 2 were so much better than Mario 1.
Super Mario Brothers 1 was a graphical and sound powerhouse making a larger impact than any game since. This might surprise those who think Mario 1′s graphics are “dated” and “bad”. Compare it to the other 1985 NES games. Hell, compare it to the Atari 2600 games. The fact is that no games had background music until Super Mario Brothers came along (and this music was used to immerse the player). Every game had the color black as background until Super Mario Brothers revolutionized everything with that big blue sky. The title screen of Super Mario Brothers is actually nothing but a blue sky.
What I fear is that Nintendo looks at NSMB and sees nothing but ‘mechanics’ or ‘level design’. They don’t factor in immersion at all which is why NSMB series looks and sounds so stale. I think it is their 3d bias showing where they only ASSUME 3d games can only immerse the player. But the early Zelda games immersed the player. Did not Super Metroid immerse the player?
Level design is not enough. We need immersion. No wonder that the most exciting thing people say about NSMB U are the ‘detailed backgrounds’. Nintendo, you can do better.