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W19 Ultra Risto Sib.

June 23, 2017

2017-06-24 Ultra Risto Sib. Screenshot 1

Another Classic Mario Clone

Controls:

Move – Arrow keys

Jump – Space

Run – None, you run all the time

Download (55mb)

2017-06-24 Ultra Risto Sib. Screenshot 2

2017-06-24 Ultra Risto Sib. Screenshot 3

Reference

Background music Woods by axtoncrolley

 

Post-Morten

TDLR: Most Mario clones have no momentum in the run. This makes the movement more static and less exciting, trying to rush the level but having to slow down in some parts to play safer.

The original idea was to make a simple version of Mario in Construct 2 to be able to use it in level design workshops. I really like Mario Maker, but theres no way to get a classroom full of Wii Un or 3DSs. I knew that it was hard to make a good Mario clone right from the start but it surprised me how much that actually was going on under the hood in one of the most copied platform games.

Mario Clones – Theres a lot of Mario clones out there and a lot of them are not very good. And one of the hardest things to nail is the platform physics. Its a different topic, but I think that the word ”clone” implies that the game have lower quality then the original. The clone tries to copy a lot of the immediate aspects of the game (like art, theme, story, and short game play loops), but misses some of the more finer details (like polish / effects, game design and level design), and ends up as a mere shadow of the original game. Theres also a perception that clones have close to none innovation and therefore adds nothing to the cycles of iterations of game concepts. I would say that clone is a word that is hard to use objectively, and describes more about the users subjective perspective and values. Some games, like doom, are so influential that what used to be ”doom clones” ended up as a genre, the same goes with DotA / MOBAs and also with minecraft crafting-survivals.

So what about Mario? It was the game that defines the platform genre, but in a way, only a few games manages to do it justice. Most games in the platform genre borrows a lot of elements like scrolling, jumping on platforms etc, but skips running, question blocks, and Mario’s level design [is level design really part of the gameplay formula? I would say yes, ex Super Meatboy wouldn’t be the same game with longer and easier levels].

So to make a true Mario clone, it would need the running mechanic, copy things that could have been reinvented but instated decided to use the same as its predecessor (same enemies, art direction, legacy system like 100 coins for a continue and scoring (who use the scoring system?)) and lack a high level of polish.

How I made a Mario clone – And it was hard, Mario is not the simplest platformer to make, 5 different blocks, 5 different items in them, enemies that react to each other (koopa shells). Blocks that reacts to enemies, a lot of components. And I only intended to make the components for the first level. It is strange, because platformers are one of the game archetypes that construct 2 are made to make. But its hard to replicate Mario’s physics in the program. I started to implement the things I know about Mario, and when I had the basic gameplay, I started to play the game and switch between my version and Mario for NES to pick out details. Heres a list of things I noticed:

None square collision and hitting blocks – In Construct 2 and other programs you make a collision bounder around the object, for example a square. Because Mario is squared I just expected the collision to be around the player, but it isn’t. When Mario jump up on the side of question blocks, if the middle of the character is under the block you hit the block, but if the middle of the character is just on the side of the block, you jump up and are pushed out of the block. If you press a little to the side Mario will end up on top of the block. This thing really surprised me. It is especially visible when theres a one block gap and you try to jump in between the blocks on the side. In my version its very hard because the hit collision is basically one block, compared to a half block in Mario, making it just possible to get in between but with little wiggle room. So the game doesn’t seem to handle Mario’s collision as a static cube but instead use different collisions depending on the context.

Brake one block in the middle of the sprite – Also in my first version, because the square collision was bigger then in Mario, you would constantly hit multiple blocks, which never happens in Mario. I assume that in Mario you break the block closest to the middles of the sprite.

Bumping the bricks as small Mario – If you jump under bricks as small Mario (or as Mario instead of “Super Mario” as the game calls it) they won’t break, but the block bumps up. I really like how that feedback is there, how the game shows that you can interact with the block although you can’t break it yet. This also works on question blocks, but only for blocks with content, it doesn’t work with used blocks. When theres things on top of the block the object will get a bump. If its a coin Mario will get it, if theres a mushroom it will jump, if its a goomba it will die.

Invisible blocks have no collision – This is kind of self explanatory, but was a thing my first version didn’t have. So in my version you could walk on top of a invisible box. In Mario games it gets activated only once you jump beneath it.

Flowers – You only get a flower if you take a question block and already have a mushroom. This is kind of Mario standards. But in Super Mario Bros. (SMB) theres always going to be a flower in a mushroom block if you are Super Mario, theres no “mushroom only” boxes like in Super Mario World. Also if you hit a box and it spawn a flower and you get hit and lose the mushroom while its still there and you pick up the flower you will only get a mushroom. It kind of annoys me. Also in SMB compared to the other Mario games if you got hit as Fire Mario you go straight to Mario, also losing the Super Mario / mushroom power up in between at the same time. I actually kind of like it. I recently played volgarr the viking, there you can get multiple power ups, and every time you take damage you will lose two steps, but if you only have step one of that equipment you only lose that one. So each hit hurts more then each power up, but if you only get one power up you are still safe.

Flat goomba – When Mario kills a goomba, it get crushed and remains on the ground of around a second. Other goombas can collide with it and change direction which can result in unexpected death. In my first version I added it but didn’t remove them, so the level got decorated with flattened goombas. It was kind of cool but a little to cruel for a intended Mario clone.

Bouncing on goombas – When Mario jump on a goomba theres a little bounce up wards. In later games if you time a jump Mario will bounce higher, you can not do that in SMB.

Off screen shells – In Mario enemies are static if they are off screen. So they start to walk when Mario get close so that they are visible on screen. This is different compared to other Mario games, and also compared to Mario maker. I think enemies gets activated 12 blocks from the screen in Mario maker. The enemies also gets disabled if they walk off screen. For example if theres a goomba walking right and theres a pipe, when the goomba collide with it the goomba will change direction and walk left instead. But if the pipe is off screen so the goomba walks out of the screen it will not return back on screen. But shells do. Theres a level in SMB (3-2) where you run forward hitting a shell and it smashes a lot of goombas, the shell goes off screen, you continue to run, and then theres goombas walking towards you. If you wait a little the shell will hit a pipe and return hitting the goombas that it ignored the first time.

Sportsmen like plant – The piraya plants go up and down in a specific pattern, but if Mario stands on top of the pipe and that piraya plant have not started to go up, it will no go up and damage Mario.

Star – The star have about 12 seconds active time, and bounce up and down. If it collide on the side of objects it will change direction. I also think that Mario is invisible a short time after the star theme stopped.

Animation details

  • When Mario pick up a mushroom theres a short frame freeze and a animation plays which transform Mario to super Mario. The animation flash fast back and forward between Mario, a middle state and super Mario.
  • When Mario takes damage, the time also freezes and Mario flash back and forward between the animations again.
  • When Mario hits a brick four particles are spawn, two pointing right the other to the left.
  • When Mario hit a enemy with a fire ball it will bounce up and fall of the screen. This does not apply to the piraya plant. The same effect is play when Mario hit enemies with the star.
  • When Mario dies the sprite plays a death animation and bounce up to around the middle of the screen and falls back down off the screen.
  • When Mario hit the goal he will hang on the location and then slowly fall down to the floor, the banner of the pole will fall as fast as Mario goes.
  • When Mario pick up a coin thers no animation at all. When Mario hit a block with coins in them, small coin will spawn that floats upwards.
  • When Mario does anything that gives score, like hitting a enemy, picking up power ups or coins, a white text will appear above the object and float upwards for 1 second and disappear. Bricks give 50 points, but theres no score text when Mario hit the brick.

Physics – The details in Mario that a lot of platform games in general and especially the Mario clones miss is Mario’s forward momentum. It takes some time to gain walking speed, I didn’t figure out how much. Then when you run it takes some distance to gain running speed, while you run the max speed is set and you jump one block higher. This was hard to simulate with the physics methods, so I just made something that was close but no exactly the same. Because theres a momentum when you release the forward button Mario doesn’t stop, but continue to move forward. This is especially prominent in the air. Also theres a different backwards movement when Mario is in the air. He moves more slowly backwards. If you have a momentum, the backwards movement only almost moves him to the halt. This is a big difference compared to a lot of Mario clones and the standard Construct 2 platform movement, where if you release the forward button you stop, also in the air. This is one of the core problems with a lot of Mario clones. When you run in Mario, you progress the level fast, which feels good, like your are good at the game. But when you run you also lose some control of the character making it harder. This is in the core of Mario’s level design, always pushing to get in the running mode but also having to slow down to play safer in some part of the level. Or I would say thats the core of SMBs level design, the later games introduced a lot of different mechanics which force the player to wait (like a platform moving up and down out side of the players range), eg rhythm pattern, which doesn’t emphasize the forward momentum, but instead stops it. Forcing the player to move in one possible rhythm, instead of a spectrum of different ones.

Theres also other things with the physics, like alternating between the running and walking state. But tbh, I never use it, so its hard for me to look into it.

Next version – I didn’t add all of the details I mentioned here, simply because I wanted to make a Construct 2 version under 100 events (basically if statements) so I could be used in the free version. But I found out that you could still make levels and save the file when you have more then 100 events, just not export it. And also in construct 3, which is platform independent and would be the version I would use in a workshop, they changed the limit to 25 events, which is not enough for this game. I ended ut with 124, and could remove the koopa to get down to 100, the shell…

Anyway, I want to add theres things, more level, different art themes, the other elements from other levels, maybe lakito and hammer bros. I also want to make the art less “Mario clone”, but I have not decided on the setting yet. If I would continue with this project, I would also like to include other mechanics that not in the Mario game. But still focus on the balance between wanting to rush the levels but having to slow down and play safer.

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