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Mario Melodies: Final Exam

I've realized that a lot of material has been covered on this blog. I feel that the material covered up through the Mario Melodies series is about the amount of material I would pack into a semester intro course in game design. So, what better way to end the series than a final exam! Answer what you can. Feel free to refer to the glossary in the side bar or read through the articles again from the beginning. Email me your answers and I'll give you a grade. It may not sound like fun, but getting down to the nitty gritty of game design is music to my ears. If you know anyone who thinks they're knowledgeable in game design or Super Mario Bros. feel free to send this test along.



Name _______________
Years gaming _________
Favorite genre (optional) _________
Favorite game (optional) _________



If you don't have a physical test to write on, use the letters and numbers to refer to specific positions. For questions 5-7, only use elements from Super Mario Bros. for the N.E.S. Make all decisions considering Small Mario as the starting player state.
  1. Discuss the pros and cons of Mario's run button/function in Super Mario Brothers.
  2. Why do you think it's significant/important that Mario's death animation and the enemy death animations after getting hit by a fireball fall down through the stage? Explain in full detail.
  3. Why do you think it's significant/important that the fire bars (see figure 3) rotate clockwise and the powerups travel to the right (when unobstructed)? Explain in full detail.
  4. Using figure 1, arrange these distinct sections to create a refining & linear trend. Explain your reasoning.
  5. Using figure 2, arrange at least 5 of these distinct sections so that they represent a refining & conceptual trend. Explain your reasoning.
  6. Using figure 3, add a level element to make the trend between section 1 and 2 diminished - conceptual. Explain your reasoning.
  7. Using figure 4, add a single element to make the trend between section 1 and 2 static.
  8. What kind of enemy would you add to Neo*RPG (if any) and why? Explain answer in full detail.
  9. What changes would you make to Neo*RPG to make the game cleaner? Explain in full detail.

Bonus: Which is a better power up: The Tanooki suit (Bros. 3) or the Blue shell (NSMB) and Why?


And if you haven't noticed already, the image below, which used to be the header image of the critical-gaming blog, isn't sheet music. It's actually World 1-1 from Super Mario Bros. Though I used real musical notation, if you look closely enough you'll find Goomba, Koopa, coin blocks, pipes, coins, and those crazy green hills from the background. Did I just blow your mind?

« A Mario Trio of Bullet Point Essays | Main | Mario Melodies: Counterpoint part.3 »

Reader Comments (3)

Did you read my apologies in the previous thread? Anyway, this looks fun. Hoping at least for a B-... :P

Years gaming about 25
Favorite game (optional) quite a few: Galaga, Defender, Joust, The Lurking Horror (Infocom), Trinity (Infocom), Super Metroid, Tetris, Sonic the Hedgehog, Kenseiden, MGS, Zelda: OoT, Castlevania: SotN, FFVI, Shade (Plotkin), Spider and Web (Plotkin), Anchorhead (Gentry), Tekken 5, FFTactics, Ico, Shadow of Colossus etc

pros: it's a nice boost for quickly taking a running mushroom or star; it's probably the only way to reach the top of the flag poles
cons: it may lead you to sudden death at a pit or in a close encounter with an enemy coming from the right.

2. Not only by fireball: all deaths other than falling in pits are the same. I never thought it to be significant or important, only funny. That said, it's probably less shocking for the kids rather than a burning Mario turning into dust. But I suspect the real reason were storage limitations back then not allowing for much variety of explosion, fire or gruesome death animations. Only drop the character out of the screen.

3. The fire bars rotate clockwise because they are obstructions to progress. If they rotated counter-clockwise, it should be much easier to pass by by closely following the bar as it goes right and up, unobstructing your way.
The powerups go right because they are inciting the player to progress and rewarding him in doing so. Of course, they only reward you if you are careful enough not to die while pursuing them.

4. I don't care, I would just go through the roofs. :)
5. I'm not a game designer.
6. see 5.
7. nope
8. Don't know Neo*RPG

"the image at the top of the blog isn't sheet music. It's actually World 1-1 from Super Mario Bros. Though I used real musical notation, if you look closely enough you'll find Goomba, Koopa, coin blocks, pipes, coins, and those crazy green hills from the background."

Very, very neat! I've actually read the title and thought it was simply a transcription of the famous Kondo tune!

"Did I just blow your mind?"


July 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternamekuseijin

2. At the (not yet complete) reading of your posts, i'd say the important reason to use "fall down" animation even though fire is the cause of death is that the gravity is the core mechanism in Mario. You're always fighting against it, so it is the gravity that kills you, more than anything else.

3. Counter-clockwise firebars on the ground means that you will get "squashed" when you wait for them to pass. If we want fireballs to go against Mario's progression, we can safely put them on the ceiling, where they will be effective and still allow for a "safe place" to adjust timing.

December 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersylvainulg

@ sylvainulg

Good answers.

December 1, 2009 | Registered CommenterRichard Terrell (KirbyKid)

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