Sean Noonan’s fan-made micrograme called The Super 1-1 Challenge is a free first-person shooter representation of Super Mario Bros. built in Unreal Engine 4. The game was released on March 10th, known among fans as Mario Day due to the date itself creating the Italian plumber’s name when put together (Mar10).
The Lead Level Designer of Gears Tactics at Splash Damage, Noonan has also worked on large AAA titles such as the Far Cry series and Watch Dogs. As part of a level design challenge from Mapcore, a game development community that has evolved since 1999 out of Half-Life mod production, contestants were required to choose one of three levels from different games to recreate with the software of their choosing. Starting in July 2019, Noonan chose the first level of Super Mario Bros., known as “World 1-1,” to recreate within Unreal Engine 4. The other options were “Facing Worlds” from Unreal Tournament and “FY_Poolday” from Counter Strike 1.6.
Announced on Twitter, the short experience finds players performing familiar acrobatics as the red-hatted hero but through the mascot’s eyes while looking down the barrel of a plunger gun. Goombas rush towards users in 3D space and are sent flying backwards, bouncing off one another in a puff of dust when shot. The classic moves of breaking blocks with Mario’s head and stomping on enemies are present and feel very natural despite their radical form. In a tweet, Noonan explained that it was because of his fond childhood memories that he chose Super Mario Bros. over the other games available. “So for me it was a tough call between Face and 1-1 but the Mario level edged it for me. Pure nostalgia. Memories of the first ever video game I played at my home as a child.“
On his Discord channel, Noonan.Design, he shared updates including short videos documenting progress throughout development. Besides the phenomenal technical aspects, the artistic take on “World 1-1” extends beyond the original Super Mario Bros. The aesthetic style and level design follows more closely with that of Super Mario 3D Land. In a text file included with the game, Noonan explains his reasoning behind this by stating “I aimed to emulate Super Mario 3D Land… I love how colorful it is.” Additionally, the long jump, ground pound, and red coins from Super Mario 64 are present along with sound effects from various entries in the franchise.
Although Noonan doesn’t plan on expanding the project, the game itself stands as fertile ground for continued development. The mechanics are tight and, though an FPS, it feels like a legitimate game in the Mario franchise. Even if nothing more happens with The Super 1-1 Challenge, this faithful tribute is sure to have inspired other developers and fans alike with its polished production. It stays true to the Mapcore challenge, featuring all the necessary elements from and overall flow of Super Mario Bros. World 1-1, but represents more of a beautiful amalgamation: a celebration of the tireless hero that has been entertaining and filling hearts with joy since 1985. The game files are available for a name-your-price download on itch.io.
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