What Matters in a Game: Mechanics or Plot

Super Mario Sunshine is a Nintendo GameCube game. It was released in America in August of 2002. The game begins when Mario and friends fly in to a tropical island for vacation and find that somebody has vandalized the island and framed Mario. Gameplay involves players controlling Mario using a water jet on his back, named FLUDD, that allows him to jump higher and destroy slime that covers the island.

The story is well told, however, not nearly as deep as some other games due to the fact that Super Mario Sunshine focuses on the mechanics as opposed to creating a deep and engaging plot. Many Nintendo games decide to go this route in prioritizing gameplay over storyline, like Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, and Pikman. When it comes to gaming, many people ask the question of what is more important: story or mechanics?

In Super Mario Sunshine, FLUDD, Mario’s water jetpack companion, allows for unique gameplay. FLUDD, which stands for Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device, has two default

Mario's FLUDD device that creates the gameplay.

Mario’s FLUDD device that creates the gameplay.

nozzles. First, the Spray nozzle, allows Mario to squirt water in order to clean up the slime around the island, attack enemies, and activate mechanisms. Second, the Hover nozzle, allows Mario to hover in the air for a short while as well as jump higher and father. Later in the game the player is able to unlock two more nozzles on FLUDD

This in depth system of the nozzle is obviously the heart and soul of the game, the plot is obviously a way of using this mechanism in cool and creative ways. This contrasts highly with other games such as the walking dead, or heavy rain, which build their games around the story first and foremost.


Heavy Rain gives options that dictate the story.

In other games, however, plot can be the major focus throughout the story. In such games as Heavy Rain, an interactive drama developed by Quantic Dream, there are mostly quick time events. During dialogue you make choices that dictate the storyline. It almost appears to be an interactive movie over a typical game. Another example of these interactive storylines is The Walking Dead: The Game, an episodic interactive graphic adventure developed by Telltale Games and based on the comic book series. In the walking dead you’re given choices during dialogue. This game again focuses more on going

The Walking Dead allows dialogue choice in order to further the plot.

The Walking Dead allows dialogue choice in order to further the plot.

through the story as opposed to the game mechanics that make up the majority of Nintendo games.

When it comes to mechanics versus story I think the game mechanics should be prioritized and this is why. If I want to play a game I want to make sure it is fun before I care about the story and characters. The in depth plot is always a great addition to the game, but I want to play a game before I watch an interactive movie.

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