Mario games have been increasing in scale for decades. The stalwart plumber has hopped his way through kingdoms, then lands, then worlds, and eventually whole galaxies. While Nintendo is keeping the nature of his next real adventure close to its vest, a team of developers have put together a prototype of one possible next step: an infinite universe of Mario levels.
For their contribution to the latest Ludum Dare game jam, where creators are challenged to build a game in 72 hours, the four-man crew of ASMB Games made something called No Mario’s Sky. Inspired by the divisive space exploration game No Man’s Sky, this Ludum Dare submission has Mario exploring a universe of algorithmically generated planets. With the push of a button, he can summon a spaceship and fly off in search of another world to jump around in.
As to be expected from something put together in 72 hours, it’s pretty rough. Mario controls like he has a mind of his own, making precision jumps nearly impossible. Luckily, you’ll never need to be all that accurate because there’s hardly anything to do on these random planets. You land, check out the local goombas—sometimes they have pointy teeth or blond pompadours or no face at all—collect some coins, and then fly away after less than a minute because you’re bored out of your mind and there’s no actual goal anywhere in sight. Then, you do it again at the next planet, only this time the world is a different color and the music is fed through some new filters. But judging by the developers’ cheeky description of their project, they’re well aware of its limitations. After all, when you consider the game that inspired No Mario’s Sky, it’s all probably part of the joke. You can download and play No Mario’s Sky right now, or at least until Nintendo yanks it off the internet.