Greetings, master Malstrom!
As I’m reading all these suggestions for new worlds (a machine world and magikoopas’ magical home world sound cool), a couple of ideas pop up, typically based on things in nature, existing works of literature or general myth. As to whether or not they would be interesting to adventure through, I leave that to yourself and the esteemed readers. I do think, however, that they would feel more fresh than the old rehashes that Nintendo is currently throwing onto the 2D Mario cartridges. I might be forgetting some stuff having been done already, so please correct me if I do. Note that I had no specific sequence in mind, I’m just numbering the worlds for convenience.
1. The Moon world
I’m thinking of something along the lines of what one might find in HG Wells’ First Men in the Moon, or possibly C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet. An entire world with less-than-normal gravity (like the Moon stage in Mario Land 2), where Mario can jump higher and longer than usual and plants (and enemies?) can grow to tremendous heights. Possibly a place of thin atmosphere where, if you have day and night cycles, nighttime will see the levels above ground frozen, slippery and relatively barren, whereas daytime will bring with it lush vegetation, springing up from the ground far more rapidly than one would expect. It could also include several underground cave areas, with veins of crystal acting as conduits for light to reach down from the surface in the day and bioluminescent fungi (similar to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PanellusStipticusAug12_2009.jpg) providing a soft, green light during the night. Enemies could be mostly insectoid, with workers, soldiers etc, and the final world boss could be some large insectoid queen/king.
2. The Deep Sea world
This could be some kind of deep sea world, where you get to explore the bottom of the ocean. Personally, I find few things on our own planet to be as fascinating as the depths of the ocean. There’s just so much we don’t know about all those underwater chasms and what lurks in the darkness of the water, the potential for the imagination to run wild is just staggering.
The world could start with Mario descending into some old mineshaft or such, allowing you to explore ever deeper down into the earth through a system of caverns filled with lava, huge piles of gemstones, vast underground lakes and other things similar to what Jules Verne describes in A Journey to the Centre of the Earth. There could be dark underwater levels where you swim near the bottom of the ocean, never knowing if a moving light will turn out to be attached to a small, relatively harmless fish or to some huge monster. There could be giant squids, glowing jellyfish and who knows what. For the sake of not making everything all dark and dreary, let the world map (I’m assuming there would be one) scroll over to reveal some kind of underwater city with transparent pressure domes, full of bright lights and possibly some hostile civilization of reptiles. The various tales about Atlantis are usually an interesting source of material for this.
I would sort of think a variation on Leviathan would be a cool underwater boss for this world, except it might not fit with Mario being the protagonist. Might be better for a real Zelda game (if we ever see one of those again), with the whole growing to become stronger and beating more and more powerful and scary monsters. Perhaps a giant squid would work better, or a triumvirate of powerful lizard kings? Still, I would like to quote some verses about Leviathan from the book of Job, simply because they are awesome:
“Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
Flames stream from its mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.”
Anyway, on to the next one…
3. The Tall Peak world
Now that we’ve been through the darkest depths, how about the tallest of heights? A mountain range on the scale of the Himalayas would certainly be a nice change of pace after the bottom of the ocean. The original Super Mario Bros had lots of blue sky in the background. Well, here’s a chance to climb above the clouds and into a world of blue. You could have the background be a mostly blue sky and snow covered mountain tops in the distance, with occasional gaps in the cloud cover revealing distant landscapes where you have been, or where you are going next. Some more far east asian architecture could fit in here just fine, perhaps in some hidden green valleys or such. During the night, the clear sky could be full of stars, the moon could follow a sped up version of its real world cycle and change between levels, and things like meteorites could flash across the sky.
Enemies could be things like snowmen, koopa troopas in extreme cold clothing, goombas in fur hats and hammer bros throwing ice axes. Every entry into any stage in this world might also have a random chance to start a level-wide blizzard that pushes you either forward or backwards in that level, making different playthroughs of the same level different in terms of difficulty of jumps and such. It might even blow goombas down into holes, as well. Poor goombas…
4. The Black Desert world
I was thinking this might be more of a final world, with the final boss’ fortress being situated on a tall rock spire you have to climb, possibly in the midst of some black sand desert filled with basalt rock and such. Pits of boiling water and geysers could make the environments themselves pretty dangerous and enemies might pop up through the sand to attack you and perhaps you even have the choice to take a shortcut straight through a volcano. Dried out lakes and gigantic skeletons could make for some fitting scenery as you struggle towards your ultimate confrontation with whatever fiend lives on that lone spire
Oh, and how about having the world maps change from being infested with monsters to being populated with toads and other friendly creatures as you conquer more and more of them? It might enhance the feeling of you being the one to liberate these besieged worlds.
I would love to hear what everyone else thinks of these ideas and how they could be made better.
Good evening to you.
/A somewhat esteemed reader
1. Moon World was already done (brilliantly I might add) by Ducktales. It was so well done that people, today, are still talking about it.
2. This ends up being better in theory than in practice. In World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm, they made a deep sea zone that is very beautiful (the designer was a marine biologist) and very well done. Everyone acknowledges this. But everyone also hates it. Being underwater gets tiring FAST. Maybe it is all the swimming or all the blue or how all the enemies behave differently underwater. Do you know of any games that have pulled off a Deep Sea Zone and did it well?
3. Won’t Sky World do the same thing? In SMB 3, you climbed the spiral tower to get to the Sky. In NSMB Wii, there were tons of tall mountains in World 6.
4. I suppose this could work. But this sounds like another variation of the Barren World.