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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Difference Between the New Kirby and Mario Games

I've spent about five hours with Super Mario 3D Land, and I'd like to explain what makes it so great so far, especially in comparison to the drab Kirby's Return To Dreamland. In order to do so, we're going to look back at this article.
If you haven't read it, here's the theory I put forth. In every game, there need to be three things in order to make the game work well:
  1. Good controls.
  2. Challenging yet attainable goal achievement.
  3. Anticipation of what comes next.
That's the holy triumvirate of game design. If the game is missing all three, it's awful. If a game has one out of three, it's bland. If it has two out of three, it's OK. If it has all three, it's fantastic.

Kirby's Return to Dreamland had solid controls, and that was about it. Beating levels was easy, and the supposed "secrets" were painfully easy to find. There was minor anticipation, since you knew you weren't going to find more special powers as you played. That made Kirby's Return to Dreamland bland.

Super Mario 3D Land, on the other hand, has phenomenal controls. It's challenging yet fair. Every level is slightly different or has something you didn't expect to see, including the remixed special levels that you get to play after you've beaten the first quest.

In essence, everything that you could want from a platformer is in Super Mario 3D Land. That's the difference between an OK game and a great game. Good job, Nintendo.