Check out a nice video by Mark Brown on the level design philosophy of Super Mario games. The author states that Nintendo has developed a reusable level design structure that allows for ideas to be properly taught and established and this structure can be broken down into four simple steps.
Games shown in this episode (in order of appearance):
- Super Mario 3D World (Nintendo, 2013)
- Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo, 2007)
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo, 2010)
- Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo, 2011)
- Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Nintendo, 2014)
- Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, 1985)
- Super Mario Bros. 3 (Nintendo, 1988)
Want to learn more? Check out an old interview with Super Mario 3D Land’s director Koichi Hayashida by Gamasutra that can tell you more about the team’s philosophy:
Well, every Mario game is, of course, made with all of the learnings in mind from the Mario games that preceded it. So, for example, we made Mario 64, and then Super Mario Sunshine. We were thinking what we had learned in Super Mario 64.
And when we made Galaxy, we were thinking about what we had learned in Super Mario Sunshine. So, one example might have been taking some of the camera control out of the hands of players, so they wouldn’t have to worry about that quite so much, when they were playing the game in Galaxy.
But each time we see a little bit of innovation. And it’s wonderful to have all of those elements to draw from, and choose from, to make a new game. But over time, some of those elements can develop their own demerits, such that you can’t carry them forward consistently throughout, and just keep adding to a pot indefinitely.
You can read the full article here.