I know, I know, all my post have to do with Mario, but here is brilliant reason why. I didn't do a reading for this post, instead I watched a documentary called "Indie Game: The Movie". In the film they follow three independent game designers and their games - Fez, Meat Boy, and Braid (one in mid-process behind on schedule, one nearing the release date, and one well past the release - respectively). One all the game designers had in common was that they were inspired by playing the classic platform game Mario as children, and went to create their own whimsical platform games with a strong single lead character (two of which are trying to save their love). This documentary highlighted the stress of putting out highly anticipated game with little money, and only one or two making the game.
To understand what inspired someone to go through this tortuous process I broke out my classic Super Nintendo, and played the first three Mario's. Playing the games and watching the documentary I saw the similarities in the basic story-line, platform playing-style, simplified graphics (due to lack of budget), and the need to solve the puzzle/save the day.