The Anatomy of Super Mario VIII: Mario gets Konged

The final stage of Donkey Kong Jr. neatly embodies the gestalt of the entire game. It calls to mind the equivalent level of the original Donkey Kong, yet its familiar objects finds itself turned (literally) sideways to make use of Junior’s vertical agility. You remember the final stage of Donkey Kong, yes? The construction site […]

The Anatomy of Super Mario IV: The kinging of Kong

Here we are, already at the “end” of Donkey Kong: Its fourth screen. By today’s standards, DK is comically short, but four uniquely designed screens was nothing to sneer at back in 1981. Besides, arcade games weren’t after long-term immersive commitments. This was a light snack of a game to see how high a score […]

The Anatomy of Super Mario III: Ape, escaping

Yes, I know Donkey Kong is a gorilla. Whatever.   If the cement factory stage represents Donkey Kong at its worst — and remember, “worst” in a game this well-designed simply means “OK but not amazing” — the lift level that follows it offers Donkey Kong at its best. While this screen may not offer […]

The Anatomy of Super Mario II: Concrete design

Donkey Kong‘s second level has become something of a legend thanks to its omission in nearly every home port of the game ever released. See, Nintendo (and ghost-writer development house Ikegami Tsushinki) went a little crazy with the game’s design, cramming four different stage layouts into the arcade board. While these mostly shared assets amongst […]

The Anatomy of Super Mario I: It’s on like….

I had originally planned to follow up The Anatomy of Metroid with a series on Kid Icarus, but after thinking about it a little more I feel perhaps I’d be wise to go back to basics and look at some of the games I keep referencing in these features. The Anatomy series dissects the design […]