The playful technology I have chosen to write about for this project is one with which I am familiar to a great degree—Super Mario World. For anyone who might not know for sure which incarnation in the Mario series this is, it is the 2-D original SNES game that introduced the gaming world to Yoshi. In the sections that follow, I will discuss first the formal constraints (storyline) of the game, then the material constraints (choices available to the player) before discussing how the two align.
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The formal constraints of Super Mario World are pretty simple:
The material constraints of Super Mario World are also simple:
When one considers how these two lists fit together, it becomes clear that the narrative really provides an end goal only rather than a series of goals throughout the game. Mario must defeat the castles and Bowser to rescue the Yoshi eggs and the princess, but ultimately, large sections of the game can be skipped when players navigate in specific ways to reach the final confrontation with Bowser.
On close consideration of the game, one might wonder why the power-ups and the enemies co-exist. There seems to be no explanation for the various mushrooms, feathers, flowers, stars, or coins that aid Mario along his way. Perhaps a previous Mario game offered some explanation as to why these power-ups exist in otherwise treacherous worlds alleviating player frustration at a narrative/action mismatch.