How Has Mario’s Run Changed?

How Has Mario’s Run Changed?


Mario Maker is brilliant, it’s a great family
game where I can make devious stages for my eldest daughter to navigate and where she
can make me coin heaven stages, it’s a great game dev tool, it’s a celebration
of an entire history of platforming gold, and for me it’s a celebration of aesthetics
and styles …
and an opportunity to cash in on Mario Maker 2’s popularity. In Mario Maker 2 we’re presented with 5 or
more different Mario’s throughout history, which means we’re presented with 5 or more
differently animated Mario’s. How do they differ? Or, more specifically, How Has Mario’s Run
Changed over time? Well, let’s have a look in this episode
of Video Game Animation Study with me, Dan Root. We’ll stick mainly to the Mario Maker entries
with a few other games added in, otherwise we would be here literally all day and I’ve
got tea to drink, armchairs to doze in and Dad jokes to crack. It’s kinda interesting that Mario Maker
2 has added a new style, 3D World, as I feel that the different styles almost align with
the progression of Mario’s run, Splitting things up mainly into 2D, 2.5D and
3D. Okay let’s start studying right at the beginning
shall w- no, not right here! Yay, let’s start here! So, as I’ve mentioned in my keyframes video,
as has the brilliant New Frame Plus, in these limited early days it’s all about strong
keyframes to efficiently portray movement as interestingly as possible. What’s interesting to consider here, even
as early on as the first Super Mario Bros, is that Mario has both a walk and a run cycle
using the same set of frames, and that you must slowly build momentum up to a run from
standing still. It’s pretty simple, the frames loop slowly
when walking, with your horizontal speed quite slow and then when you hold B for the rest
of the game, the frames begin to loop quicker, and your horizontal speed quickly peaks to
its maximum. I mean there’s nothing particularly special
for me to say here other than Mario’s run looks like a goofy little scuttle, which is
a great thing. He looks like he’s getting a shuffle on
when Regular, and then when he’s Super he’s kinda got this locomotion feel. It’s good. It’s clear, and concise. (thanos) as all things should be. Next is my favourite example Super Toki Mario
Panic 2. Here, Mario literally has two frames for running,
one of which doubles as his idle pose,….is that lazy or efficient? Same as before, slow loop speed with slow
horizontal speed, both increase when you run. There’s a cute little Bob to the run, and
what I like about this run, and something we’ll come back to later, is how Mario rests
his hands by his hips instead of pumping them like previously. There’s something very Tom & Jerry about
it, which draws this into a much more cartoony aesthetic, and not necessarily that less frames
means less information. Even clearer and conciser. Mario 3 is where things become a little more
interesting….wait hang on *looks up interesting in dictionary* right yeah okay. What’s interesting is he now has a separate
group of three frames for walking, and a separate group of three for running at top speed! Yeah. He has a top speed now. The walking one retains the hands by the hip
when super and is more similar to Mario 1 when regular, whereas the running one now
has him spread his arms like he’s about to take off into the air like a bloody racoon
or something. I like how there’s no bouncing at this top
speed, giving this sense that he’s gliding along from the sheer speed, like a Loony Toon. Guess I better mention these two or something.
Mario Land 1 is practically the same idea as Mario 1, and Mario Land 2 is the same idea
as Mario 3, just without the top speed frames. Pft. Super Mario World gives us a little more variation
by having two frames for Regular Mario’s run and an extra frame for when he’s Super. This feels much more like Mario 2’s run cycle,
with the two frames and a head bob, which is fitting considering Ninjy and Pokey make
a return in this game as well. When he’s big there’s this little 3 frame
loop which I call a hiccup cycle, *interlude looking at dictionary again*
And this accentuates the head bob. And we’re keeping the arms spread out when
at top speed from before! Which honestly looks great, it feels like he’s bounding across
the ground now and there’s a proper sense of fun when Mario runs, and I love it. Mario World feels like a combination of Mario
2 and Mario 3’s run animation. Okay, so Mario 64 is where things change a
LOT. You now get to see Mario from any and every
angle, which means it has to look good from any and every angle angle. You know, now it
has to make more anatomical sense. With the increased moveset in this game, the
run button has been removed, so moving around has been resigned to just the analogue stick,
resulting in a variation of movement speeds, from creeping, to walking, to running. Without the run button means no additional
top speed can be reached, so his outstretched arms are absent for this game. But that’s
okay, this game isn’t so much about running quickly to the end of the level anymore than
it is about precision and jumping and everything. It all feels much more like his hectic little
scuttle from Mario 1, with his sticky out arms flailing madly rather than by his side,
and a cute little frantic head bob. There’s also a little delay to when he starts moving
from when you press a direction. It doesn’t take as long to reach top speed
as it does in previous games, and his running animation doesn’t seem to speed up or slow
down depending on how fast he’s actually moving, it’s just that constant cycle from
setting off. Again, this feeds back into the idea of precision
rather than hastiness. You’re less likely to make a mistake if you can control your
horizontal speed better. There aren’t any Super mushrooms in this
game, so Mario is regular size throughout the whole thing, meaning he’s much squatter
than we’re used to, and this affects his anatomy and how he moves, particularly with
his stumpy little legs and arms which don’t really bend at all. At least not beyond how they’ve been rigged. This is what contributes to his little flailing
arms, by having them stick out rather than by his sides. Mario leans now, too. Both forward and to
the side when turning, and it’s reallllly cool, it really feels like Mario’s a weighty
character and not just a video game avatar. All in all, you get the sense that Mario’s
a bit of a makeshift hero from this run. He’s got a place to be and he wants to get there
quickly but it’s not particularly elegant and he’s just doing what he needs to in
the way that he can. Super Mario Sunshine keeps the run from 64
but it’s been refined and is less frantic, and he seems a bit calmer, probably because
he’s got his sleeves rolled up and he’s on holiday. For instance the head bob and that scuttling
effect is reduced, resulting in a much smoother run. He appears to lean a little more forward now,
probably because he has FLUDD on his back. His arms seem a little longer too, this might
help calm that hectic flailing from 64. Also, his legs are doing much more work, pretty
much clearing the floor on the up pose. Paper Mario is
considerably different in design, with characters having bigger heads, the paper gimmick and
style, the RPG element to it all. His Run Cycle is stripped back to that of
Mario 2’s running animation, consisting of roughly two frames and no other movement
other than the legs. The Thousand Year Door and Super Paper Mario
keep this practically the same, except there’s many more frames that achieve this same movement
with added easing, to keep it looking the same as the N64 version. These games are much more their own thing
though, and I wouldn’t consider this a particular influence on further run cycles. Mario Galaxy carries forward the running from
Sunshine *what…yes I know it’s Mario Galaxy 2*, though we now have what appears to be
a quicker scuttle as he begins which takes longer to get going, and it slows to a normal
pace as he actually gets moving. The actual horizontal movement has been slowed
down somewhat compared to Sunshine. I think this is the first time I actually
noticed Mario’s arms seeming longer, much longer than his legs anyway, and the arcs
are longer and ganglier now, and it gives the run a bit more energy while keeping that
cheeky scuttle. By this time, Mario has split into 3D games
and 2.5D games with the New Super series. So New Super Mario Bros for the DS did some
weird stuff for Mario’s run. As it’s inspired by the classic 2D games
and functions the same, we now have the run button back, but the models used are based
heavily on Mario’s modern look in the 3D games. This results in some updated animations, so
the initial walk build up is really scatty and frantic, like it seems too quick for how
fast he’s moving across screen, and looks a bit weird. It looks like he’s running quickly but it’s
actually walking speed, and it looks massively off. It’s almost like walking was an after
thought because they assume everyone has the run button pressed down forever. The flailing arms return from the 3D games,
but as the view is always from the side now, this also seems a little crazy to look at,
because he always keeps them straight. But, the front arm sticks out horizontally
while the back arm sort of does a swinging arc when coming up, it’s weird. Like both
arms are a bit different in swinging and I don’t really get it. The top speed idea returns thanks to the run
button, but instead of a gliding dash with arms outstretched, he now leans forward heavily
with his arms pointing back behind him, which we’ve all seen before. and his legs actually have a nice shape going
on. I mean, this all still works, he still comes
across as a bit of a mad little fellow trying to get to where he needs to be however he
needs to get there. But, something about it doesn’t seem quite
right. It might be the arms pointing back, it might be the super fast limb movement,
I’m not quite sure. But I think the fact that there’s an optional run button meant
they had to introduce a faster run animation than wasn’t present in the actual 3D games. So while we’re used to seeing Mario running
like this (show Sunshine) we now have to be familiar with this (show NSMBU). The following New Super games essentially
carry this animation over just with higher detailed models, but it feels smoother than
the DS version, so maybe it was the fidelity that made it look more janky? I dunno. A caveat to this is that New Super Mario Bros.
2 brought back the Super Leaf, meaning Mario could fly, and this in turn brought back the
arms outstretched idea, as well as the arms pointing back, so we had a couple of animations
for top speed running, which is nice. But, while in Racoon Mode, Mario has a slightly
different running animation at the beginning with his hands by his hips, kinda reminiscent
of Mario 2 and Mario World. I like this, and, personally, would like to
this sort of run attempted in future Mario games. This is also something we’ll come back to. We’ll come back to it at the same point
I said we’d come back to something else earlier in the video. It’s like….killing
two points….with the same….come back…or something. Okay, so technically Mario 3D World comes
next and then Odyssey, but I’m doing these two out of order because 3D World is a bit
of a special case and I wanna save it to last. Odyssey seems to be the perfected version
of all previous 3D games. He’s got the energy and smoothness of 64,
Sunshine and Galaxy combined, he’s got that scuttle that lacks elegance, the head bob
with a purpose, his little flailing arms to propel his body forward, that initial start
up scamper, a new….nose wobble?! His hat moves up and down that makes me think
of when you jump in Mario World, Even though there’s not a run button, you
can still gain more speed when coming out of a roll, running down hill or landing from
a leap and this causes Mario to stick his arms out again like those older games, and
it feels really nice and playful when he does. and all the while you get this feeling that
he’s simply in a hurry to get to the shops because he needs some break and milk. It’s
like a dart. He’s darting to get out of the rain. I just love, love, love this goofy little
man’s run animation. Runimation.
*third dictionary entry gag* This is how I want Mario to move. So, why is 3D World different? 3D World is pretty much the closest thing
we have to a 3D version of a classic 2D Mario game, aside from Super Mario 3D Land which
came before it. He has a lot of moves from the main 3D games,
but this feels like a 2D Mario game, right down to having a smaller Mario when low on
health and the flagpole ending. Probably why it was a welcome addition to
the 2D Mario Maker franchise. You know what else is from the 2D games? A
run button! The running animation for 3D World is unlike
all 3D games before it. Y’see, while Mario is building up his speed,
you’ve got your average sort of thing going on, fine, Mario doing a little more leaning
forward, less hectic than previous runs, not much arm flailing going on, perhaps some more
arm bending. But, once he hits that top speed and the sparks
and dust trail kick in, his run changes. He tucks in his arms, keeps them still, and
he leans back from the speed he now has. It’s like this top speed has been lifted
from New Super Mario Bros 2, of which we hadn’t seen the likes since Super Mario World and
Super Mario 2. There’s not as much head bobbing in 3D World,
but if I had to liken this run to another from the Series, it’d be those three games. In particular, when you defeat a castle in
3D World, you do this little victory run, and as soon as I first saw it, it made me
think of Tom & Jerry, Remember, from the beginning of the video,
and I said we’ll come back to this? This is it! This is the bit that we’ve come
back to! It’s like time travel! Among many things from 3D World, I feel the
running animation is certainly an aspect which pushes towards a more 2D experience than a
3D one. So, is there a reason this is different? I mean, it certainly has a different feel
to it than the forward leaning scamper, and the forward leaning dash but I suspect it
was to give the game its own identity, much like 3D Land. It’s also likely an attempt to experiment
with cross over ideas such as bringing across that more cartoony run from New Super Mario
Bros 2, and I’ll admit, it certainly works for this game. The much brighter and rich aesthetics certainly
compliment the more playful animations. I would really enjoy it if Nintendo experimented
a bit more with Mario’s run like this. I think there are plenty of ways to convey that
same “rough around the edges” hero idea without going by a checklist from previous
entries, as 3D World has shown. This is without bringing up more miscellaneous
titles like Mario and Luigi Dream Team, which feels like a smoother, simplified version
of the 3D run, or fan games like Super Mario Flashback, which brings in a more stylised
yet concise running animation while recycling that flat top speed from Mario 3. It just shows that Mario is still versatile
within a range, but exaggerated and cartoony movements suit him best. So, we have slow start ups with less arm movement
and less frames in 2D games, frantic arm flailing and stumpy leg loops for 3D games, a lean
forward with arms back at top speed in New Super games, arms by the side for more stylised
or quirky games but always, always that cheeky, happy go lucky motif present in all of them,
with rapid, jerky limbs and a little head bob. I’ll be interested to see how you run next
Mario! This episode was funded by my glorious Patrons,
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100 comments

  1. Did anybody notice that Luigi’s Mario world sprite is a mix of Mario’s sprite and Luigi’s allstars sprite

  2. "Mario 64 isnt about speed"
    Me thinking about Mario 64 speedruns: y-yeah definitely. Not about speed at all

  3. Super Mario Bros. 3's Mario running: "Woohoo hee hee I'm an airplane! :3 "
    New Super Mario Bros. U's Mario running: "You can't escape me, Sasuke! I'm gonna be the true Hokage! >:| "

  4. You've earned a new subscriber! I love your videos and the charm, even though it's mostly retro-inspired…
    I'd love to see a video on the Animal Crossing unique characteristics within it's animation style or a video on the evolution of Comic Book styled games like evolution of Marvel Ultimate Alliance!

  5. new smb is not 2,5 D its 3D models converted to 2 D sprites
    and and the sm maker 3 D world theme is 2,5 D

  6. 16 minutes of run cycles is a spicy meatball to swallow for sure:

    But I love it! (in a strange way)

    Thanks for the video! I did not know I needed this in my life!

  7. Honestly I’d love to see a remake or a sequel to Mario 3D World for the switch. I love 2D-esque objective and level design of getting to the flagpole but with the ability of 3D movement.

  8. People in the 80's: Just Imagine videogames in 2020. Will games like Mario or tetris still be great? Will they talk with you?

    People in 2019: Oh boy mario looks great running during his games

  9. Y’all notice that the menu with SM3DW says “Extra Game Styles?” As in, plural?

    Are we gonna get more styles as DLC???

  10. How about a video about Luigi's running animations?, that would be cool, as some of them are quite different

  11. I have an honest theory on why Mario runs the way he does on new super Mario bros DS, I feel like they imported the model and animation from SM64DS but the loop animation is a lot faster from where it was imported from, and Mario doesn’t lean like he does in 64 DS either is why it looks so wonky

  12. I discovered your channel with the Samus run animation and I would love to see the same concept applied to other video game characters. Link, Luigi (and how it differs from Mario), Bowser (and how walking animations are used to convey danger and weight), Kirby, Sonic, Donkey Kong maybe even more general takes on things like horseback riding animation in different media. I really like the way you discuss the way the movement animations serves to convey character traits. I think you're doing a great job!

  13. I feel like in future iterations, the "run" button should be changed to walk, since everyone naturally runs anyway.

  14. Speaking of walking animations, I'm pretty sure you know that tier list videos have been a popular thing so can you make a tier list on a characters walking animation throughout the games? Might I suggest a Belmont strut tier list?

  15. Bro why are you british people always so perky? Wait a minute. looks up definitin of 'perky' Oh, there we go

  16. 9:06 In the E3 2005 betas of New Super Mario Bros, Mario used a more calmer walking animation which was taken from Super Mario 64 DS if I recall correctly, and he walks slower too. You can see it here: https://youtu.be/Ie46F2gwBfA

  17. Just 40 thousand more to go and you'll finally have 100K subscribers Dan. I'm predicting by the end of this year you will have almost 80 thousand subs.

  18. Your titles need to be more clear about the topic being animation, my dooood.

    I skipped this video on my feed like 4 times before I read the channel name and realized it was about animation.

  19. Great video! Out of curiosity, have you ever thought about doing a animation study video based on the Ratchet & Clank series (particularly the original PS2 games)?

  20. This channel has been very enlightening! I never knew you could get so much detail from having very little! Been watching for a day and I have learned a lifetime of information, thank you!

  21. Nobody:
    YouTube Recommendations at 1am: iNspEctIng mAriO rUnniNG

    Great video nonetheless, I actually found the topic quite entertaining for how obscure it seems!

  22. "Without a run button, no additional top speed can be reached."

    SPEED RUNNERS WOULD LIKE TO
    KNOW YOUR LOCATION

  23. One thing you showed alongside the various run cycles is how Mario reacts. In the New Super Mario Bros. series he's slidey, floaty, and very slow. In Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, 3, World, and Sunshine he's much faster and precise in his movement. In Galaxy, 3D World, and Odyssey he starts off with dissatisfying floaty movement and with momentum, but gets snappy. 64 is the one outlier in that he's snappy and fast but oddly always seems to be fighting his own momentum.

  24. Holy Crap. YouTube unsubbed me from you and I just found out! Why does YouTube unsubscribe me from the best content creators?

  25. Have you heard of a game called Songbird Symphony? I'm not sure what you'd think but personally I found the animation very charming.

  26. And the opportunity to cash in on mario maker's 2 popularity
    Savage Dan
    So savage that he is the gangsta
    The gangsta of the barrio
    The white mage
    The tremendous motherfu- doing things in his way
    he is Savage Dan

  27. I love the animations in the Mario & Luigi games, especially during battle in the later games. Then again, it is my favourite series of all time so I guess I'm pretty biased.

  28. For the 2.5D Mario animations. The reason each arm is different is because of the front arm swings too far forward it looks unnatural, but matching it with thr back arm would have made the back arm stay behind his body making it hardly noticeable. So the back arm swings more forward so you can better see it in motion.

  29. You'd think that since I've been playing these since the first Mario I'd have noticed all of this progression but nah, I'm realizing it now as I watch the video. That was wonderful.

  30. Personally I never liked Mario's running animation in 3D world, It feels to out of character. The way I see his running animations need to transfer some feeling of determination, that he is in a hurry rescuing someone (princess, other princess Pauline, etc), and that running never gives me that feeling, it looks more suitable for Luigi than Mario.
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but do the New Super Mario games have stopping animation? like when Mario runs, and then you push the opposite direction, then he makes a small break animation before stopping completely, like in the original NES game, cause I don't see any in the NEW series.

  31. 3:10 OOOOOHHHHHH! Mario's head rotates! I thought he had the very common "stiff head" problem but MARIO DID WHAT SONIC DOES? I never noticed! I'm surprised right now because…I've clearly only paid attention to how stiff Mario's head is in Super Mario World…

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