Old school Mario makes the leap to real-life thanks to AR.
I don’t think Mario will ever die. The legendary video game icon has seen countless iterations since his original reveal back in 1985 and has managed to remain relevant in gaming and pop culture for over 30 years. We’ve seen everything from classic 2D Mario, 3D open-world Mario, Mario with a watergun, Mario in space, pretty much every kind of Mario you can possible come up with.
Now the original Italian stallion is being shaken up yet again, this time leaving behind the digital world in favor of our own.
Developed independently by Vancouver-based Stuart Langfield, Super Mario AR has our favorite plumber hopping around the real-world thanks some impressive use of Apple’s ARKit development platform. The unofficial fan creation brings back the same 16 bit levels and characters you love for a classic Mario gaming experience–it’s sure to stir up some old memories.
Users apparently touch the screen to control Mario has he evades various enemies while traversing all the classic obstacles from the original. There are also some AR specific updates, including the ability to touch and drag various helpful item scattered around the world towards Mario.
Like many AR experiences, users will redirect their smart phone screen in order to follow the action. However instead of having user’s side-step in a long straight line in order to make it through a level, Langfield actually morphed the course into a complete circle. This means you need only spin around while standing in place instead of walking an extended distance and potentially walking into objects, people, or oncoming traffic. All of the 3D assets were created by Langfield himself using the ARKit plugin. There’s also a soundtrack included that should sound extremely familiar to fans of the series.
“Through many iterations, I created a circular game format that surrounds the player, allowing them to rotate to keep up with player movement rather than walking in a straight line like a traditional platformer set up,” says Langfield. “An additional gameplay element was added which allows the player to assist Mario by grabbing power-ups within physical space that are out of his reach and dropping them onto him.”
This is by far one of the more impressive projects built utilizing Apple’s ARKit plugin to date. But it’s precisely the game’s quality and authentic visuals that concern me the most. History has shown that Nintendo is far from generous when it comes to their original content. Streamers and YouTubers have difficulty simply streaming Nintendo games online let alone creating their own tributes. Langfields AR Mario creation looks like the real thing, which is why I’m worried it will never see the light of day.
Langfield also used TrueDepth camera technology to create his own AR Mario mask that’s sure to scare the hell out of any small child. Or me.