Game Design Analysis: Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo 1985)
by Kevin Leslie
The core game mechanic is the use of the various keys to move through the map while avoiding enemies. Pressing the left and right arrows on the NES controller allows the Player to move in the selected direction. The A button performs the jump action, which allows the Player to avoid enemies. Furthermore, enemies can be destroyed if the Player manages to time it such that he lands on top of them.
The Player also can pick up special power-ups, one of which, increases his size so he move faster and jumps higher. The other power-up gives him the ability of shooting bouncy fire-balls using the B button. The fire-ball ability makes it much easier to destroy enemies.
The major theme of Super Mario Bros. is a race to the end platform video-game.
The game comprises of eight worlds in the Mushroom Kingdom, with each world containing four levels. Each final level takes place in a castle belonging to the main antagonist, Bowser. There are also secret areas to be discovered in each level.
The main objective is to save the Princess Toadstool, who has been captured by Bowser and held in one of his many castles. The goal is to reach the flag at the end of each level, which brings you to the next level. Completing each level brings the Player one step closer to saving the Princess.
The challenge of Super Mario Bros. is avoiding the enemies that Bowser sends to destroy you. At the earlier stages, the enemies are destroyed easily. But at later stages enemy behavior gets a little more complex, and the Player has to take extreme care when avoiding or destroying them. One false move could cause him or her to lose a life. Moreover, there are traps hidden around the levels and the Player has to observe his surroundings to make sure he is not caught out. The jumping mechanic, can also be a challenge and one wrong move could send the Player falling to his death.
The story elements of Super Mario Bros. are minimal. The only major plot point is tied in to the main objective of rescuing Princess Toadstool, who was captured by Bowser. It is clear Nintendo focused on the gameplay aspects over the story aspects in Super Mario Bros.(source:kevingda)