Making a Mario game is hard!
Well, now here’s Infinite Adaptive Mario, from a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz. Which shows, ultimately, the same thing the other two did: it’s really fucking hard to make a good Mario game.
I mean, yes, the theory is spectacular here. A Mario game that adapts to your level of skill as you play (and die) on the levels? Fantastic idea. I’m a huge fan of games scaling up or down in difficulty by how well you do, and this executes the concept pretty solidly. Die a lot, and you get a flat plain with goombas and coins. Beat a lot of levels in a row, and you’ll get a level straight out of Super Mario Frustration. It’s really good in theory.
I say in theory because this, like every other Mario knockoff, proves how hard it is to make a good Mario game. At it’s core, Mario is jumping. Just jumping. Just jumping is really, really boring if it is not balanced with the proper weight, and the enemies are not meticulously placed. Those two things exist in none of these games (well, Mario Crossover had proper level design, by virtue of being a remake), and as a result they’re all kind of bad.
But it’s a really neat, novel idea that deserves attention, and seems to be getting some from the internet at large. And while these new ideas might not work fantastically in Mario games, they might work in different games.