Mario games are held up as a shining example of game design for good reason—heck, one of the best Wii U games, Super Mario Maker, is mostly a Mario game design tool. It’s no wonder that many years later, we still learn new tidbits about gaming’s biggest icon, and today we’ve got insights spanning multiple plumber generations.
Back in Super Mario 3 on the NES, you could grab yourself a hammer suit, which would bestow Mario and Luigi with Hammer Bro.-like hammer tossing abilities. It also allowed them to duck under a protective shell like the fireball-resistant Buzzy Beetle enemies. However, that ability came at the minor cost of the plumbers losing their ability to hold down on the d-pad to slide down slopes and take out enemies. So what’s the meaning of this?
If you slide down a nearby slope while getting the hammer suit (as demonstrated by Supper Mario Broth), you’ll continue that action, and the developers behind Mario 3 went so far as to include a sprite for just such an occasion. In modern 3D games, this wouldn’t be nearly as interesting, because it’s likely that any character model swapped onto the sliding animation would be able to follow it, but with 2D sprites on the NES, this one had to be included intentionally. (Though it’s still possible that the sprite artists just created a full set for every suit without knowing some wouldn’t be used.)
Speaking of 3D Mario, the same blog also posted screenshots from Mario Galaxy demonstrating that a door with readable note on it isn’t actually a door at all—or rather, it’s not the door that the player is reading. If the screenshots are accurate, rather than create a whole new type of door that the player can read instead of open, a readable sign object was placed behind the door, which is what Mario is technically reading. We may all be focused on what’s coming next from Nintendo right now as NX rumors swirl rampantly, but there’s still plenty to learn by looking at the past.
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