The Design Of Mario & Luigi: The Lessons From A Superstar Saga

The first great fight in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is against the corrupted form of the matriarch Queen Bean. The brothers Mario have several offensive targets to select, her crowned head and her two gigantic, body-builder-caliber arms that pound the ground and send shockwaves that injure any plumber that doesn’t properly jump over it. Pouncing on her noggin’ awards you nothing more than damage thanks to those pointy golden spikes, so you quickly decide to avoid that strategy, choosing instead to deflate her arms to knock the thing off and reveal her soft skull underneath. In this dazed state, she takes full damage and hacks up beans that hatch into additional enemies if the timing of your jump is off by more than a few frames of animation and you crack one open.

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Mother 3: A Game’s Story

For all their merits, traditional JRPG’s haven’t exactly positioned themselves as videogames most cohesive narrative experience. One reason is foundational to the genre: the separation of world exploration and menu-based combat breaks player immersion from the story and characters. The other reason is true for the majority of games period: they all know how to implement a story but few understand how to exist as one. While still very much a traditional JRPG, Mother 3’s story takes root at its core, finding ways to incorporate all its elements into a whole that is surprising and emotional.

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Metroid: Zero Mission: A Screw Attack to the Cerebral Cortex

Go immediately left from at the start of Metroid: Zero Mission and you’ll find the Morph Ball upgrade exactly where it was in the original Metroid. The remake modernizes the first adventure of galactic bounty hunter Samus Aran, bringing it to the standards set by one of the greatest games of all time: Super Metroid.

The game from there applies the legendary SNES classics structure as Samus navigates the depths of the planet Zebes, finding new weapons that allow her to go further, tearing through the Space Pirate armada before encountering the parasitic Metroid life forms and the evil Mother Brain. You’ll be collecting items and abilities including the Super Missiles, Power Bombs and Speed Boosters, moves that became staples with the third game. The design fleshes out a game that was more ambitious than the tech of the time would allow, implementing enough new content to ramp up the pace without padding the adventure.

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