‘Plumber’s Creed’: Fusing Only the Most Basic Elements of Fun

Requiescat in pace, Mario.

Drop down from the ledge above, bop a koopa on the head, and then wall jump quickly back into hiding. And here you thought that the only thing that Mario and Ezio Auditore had in common was that they were both Italian.

Plumber’s Creed was made by Pietro Ferrantelli, Neils Tiercelin, and Thomas Lean in three days for Mini Ludum Dare 63. Since the theme for this particular gamejam was “Fusion,” the rules were fairly straightforward: “Make a game that’s a fusion of two other games, game genres or game ideas.”

Plumber’s Creed is a Flash game that is a fusion of Mario and Assassin’s Creed, a stealth-based 2D platformer of sorts. A hooded Mario must make his way through nine levels collecting three coins from Abstergo branded floating boxes in order to proceed “to the next castle.” At his disposal he has throwing knives, mines, and, of course, a head stomping jump.

I actually played through eight of the nine levels without realizing that I had access to the extra assassin themed weapons, so I mostly played by stealth bopping turtles, which was hard but extremely satisfying. As described above, I had to pick my opportunities carefully, finding places above koopa troopers dressed in ancient armor, descending with a solid bop to the head of one of the guards before wall jumping crazily back into the shadows.

The game evokes both of its sources of inspiration and their gameplay surprisingly well when played this way, which feels odd because these properties and their style of play do seemingly have little in common. However, if Mario games are games focused on precision jumping and Assassin’s Creed is all about the precision of the kill, well, Plumber’s Creed pretty much nails the spirit of both.

Hybridization often leads to fascinating experiments in any medium. However, in gaming, genre hybrids have almost become the industry standard, with open world games and role playing games and shooters and tower defense games and card games and racing games so often being blended together into gargantuan behemoths. As a result, playing some of these games almost feels like the player’s true quest has become to somehow find the fun of playing a game hidden somewhere in a thick stew of features.

However, this fusion of familiar Mario platforming with the killer instinct of Assassin’s Creed feels innovative because of its simplicity in blending only two basic concepts. Of course, this simplicity is defined by and derived from the nature of the challenge that it was designed in response to. This isn’t a game that aspires to be a big budget title or anything of that sort. However, it does remind one that as games have evolved, especially after the turn of the millennium, that some real Frankenstein’s Monsters have been developed as a result of the constant grafting of new mechanics on new mechanics and then on yet more new mechanics.

Plumber’s Creed is a fusion, but a largely minimalistic one. It returns back to the basics of both of the series that it apes and as a result generates something both familiar and original at the same time.

For the last several years, I have found myself praising certain game series for what seems like just doing some basic editing, some basic housecleaning, as a result of those games simply removing a few features here and there from that glut of features that some of these monstrosities have resulted in. I didn’t realize that simply pushing everything back, returning to the basics, and just focusing on the core of the gameplay of two diverse ideas may be the much smarter route and a more elegant solution. Well, that is, until I stealth bopped a turtle in Plumber’s Creed.

You can play Plumber’s Creed for free at NewGrounds.