So as I’ve been playing through New Super Mario Bros 2 on the Nintendo DS, I began to wonder why the Mario series has managed to stay so successful and relevant, even as 2D platforms have largely fallen out of style. 2D platforms used the most popular and premier gaming format back in the day, and throughout this period of popularity, game designers pumped out tons of platforms just like Mario. However, for some reason, the Super Mario series managed to out last all of their competitors, even their rival of the time, Sonic the hedgehog.
One of the biggest aspects of Super Mario that pushes it above the rest, is the atmosphere the games are able to produce. Of course the level design, appearance and challenge of these games are wonderfully put together, but the feeling you get jumping around the mushroom kingdom, is second to none. The series has been able to capture and repeat this process throughout all of their games. The world of Mario always feels so happy and carefree, even with Bowser capturing princesses all the time.
I think the biggest thing to take away from this is how important a role atmosphere and immersion play in video games. Simple things can take you out of the immersion, so it is always a delicate line to balance for game designers. However when orchestrated correctly, a beautiful game can be born.