TL;DR : Ok so because you have the attention span of a flea, just scroll down to the “overall section, sums it up pretty nicely
Super Mario Bros is a game that really needs no introduction. Definitely the most influential game in the Mario series and might even be considered the most influential game in the world. Allegedly being the game that saved the video game industry from crashing in the 80’s. I'm fairly certain that a good chunk of people reading this have remembered this game level by level, and could probably say more about it than I can. With so many re-releases, ports, and emulations, that only leaves one question: Is it really worth replaying today? And if so, how? These are my thoughts on Super Mario Bros.
Being the huge Mario fan I was back 10 or so years ago, you would've thought that this is one of the first games I ever played. Well you'd be wrong. As a matter of fact, I didn't play the original Super Mario Bros until around a year after I first started playing video games. Kinda like with Donkey Kong, my family was trying to figure out the Wii’s wiishop system, and as so my parents bought us the first 3 Super Mario Bros games. That was the first time playing the original Super Mario Bros. While not gonna lie, I didn't like it as much as I liked the other 2, it was still interesting to play. Considering I played a lot of Mario flash games back then, it was really interesting seeing where all those weird little sprites came from.
The story centers around King Koopa (later on known as Bowser) kidnapping Princess Toadstool (later on known as princess peach) and turning the rest of the residents in the mushroom kingdom into bricks and stones, leaving Mario and Luigi to rescue her. The player takes on the role of Mario or Luigi depending on what player they are. Shocker, I know.
Ok so its a pretty well accepted fact that the bricks you break in the game are the bodies of the toads. However, if this is true, does that make the super mushrooms in the game their corpses or their spirits or something? Just a little food for thought..
You probably know this, but I'm stating it anyways since I like to jabber 🙂
The main premise of the game centers around getting to the end of each level, this is done by starting at the beginning and making your way to the end by walking or running right. Each level ends by a flagpole at the end that the player must jump on in order to beat the level. Encountering various enemies and terrain made up of blocks, bricks, and pitfalls along the way.
Some examples of obstacles include:
The goomba, who waddles along the ground, hurting the player if they touch him, but can be killed if he is jumped on or if the player hits a brick underneath them.
The koopa, who acts like the goomba, except if jumped on or if the player hits a brick underneath them doesn't die, but if touched by the player bounces around the area he's in.
The Piranha plant, who sticks out of the pipe that he's in, killing the player if they touch him regardless if they jump on him or not. I really liked how if the player is standing near them, they don't come out, only if they're not. This makes it so that these enemies aren't that annoying, they just make you think a bit.
The Buzzy Beetle, who is similar to the Koopa except that he can't be killed with a fire flower or by jumping on a brick underneath him.
The Spiny, who acts like the Gooma, except he can't be jumped on, hurting the player if they try to do so. The only way he can be killed is through a fireball or if the player hits a brick underneath them.
The Lakitu, who in some levels, will spawn in spinies by throwing them at the player while riding on the top of the level via a cloud. If the player can manage to jump on him, he can be killed that way.
The Hammer Brother, always appearing in sets of two, will throw hammers at the player, hurting the player if they touch any of them. They can be killed if the player jumps on them or if they hit a brick underneath them.
Pitfalls, which unlike the obstacles mentioned above, can't be defeated, and are holes in the ground of the level that must be jumped over. Falling into one results in a loss of a life.
There is also a time limit, going over it results in a loss of a life, but it is really forgiving
Getting hurt by an enemy if the player has a powerup will take away whatever powerup they have (except for the super star) and getting hit without one results in a loss of a life.
(this isn't everything, but just a fair bit)
Along with the obstacles in the game, there are also various power ups which help the player out in various ways. They are all obtained by hitting certain blocks that contain them.
The super mushroom, which can take small Mario and make him big, not only giving him an extra layer of defense but making him eligible for fire flowers.
The fire flower, which gives the player the ability to shoot fireballs and kill enemies that way
The super star, which makes the player invincible for a short amount of time
The 1-up mushroom, which gives the player an extra life
The player can also get an extra life by collecting 100 coins, which are individual items hidden in blocks and scattered around the levels.
Some levels take place underwater. In these levels, the controls are changed a bit so that the player can swim in the water and two new obstacles are added
The cheep cheep, which swims aimlessly in the water and can only be defeated with a fire flower
The blooper, which bobs in the water towards and like the player and can also only be defeated with a fire flower
Every 4th level takes place in one of 8 castles. In theise the enemies, music, graphics, and overall atmosphere changes drastically. But the biggest difference is at the end, as opposed to jumping on a flagpole, the player must face King Koopa himself. King Koopa does various things depending on which castle the player faces him in. His two most common moves, however, are jumping and breathing fire. The player needs to somehow get behind him and touch an axe, destroying the platform he's underneath and dropping him into the lava below. This alone is a good idea I think, but later on in the game some of these levels turn into complete mazes, which I think is just a flat out bad idea. Maybe if this was a different kind of game that would work, but not here. The entire appeal of this game is to know what youre supposed to do, and execute it well. NOT run around until you find something.
Something else that I wanted to mention here is the subtle checkpoints that the game gives you at the beginning. If the player reaches a certain part of the level and they die, they'll restart there as opposed to the beginning. I think this is a good way to make sure that newer players aren't discouraged by the game's difficulty.
Another thing is the inability to go back in the level. Once the screen scrolls to one part of a level, it wont let you go back. There were a couple of instances where I accidentally ran too fast and passed a block that I knew had a power up in it. Sure, you could say that this is meant to make sure the player doesn't just breeze through the level and actually has to look around, but in my experience, but I say that that's…just part of the fun…nevertheless, I didn't like that.
The last thing I want to touch upon is the life mechanic. When the game starts, the player has 3 lives to get through 32 stages. If all 3 lives are lost, they have to restart at the beginning. While this may seem daunting at first, it's really not that bad. There are 1-up mushrooms hidden around the levels, and like I said earlier, getting 100 coins gets you an extra life as well. Not only that, but there are plenty of warp zones around some of the levels that allow you to skip entire worlds. I think that all this accommodates for a fair experience and having only 3 lives to be justified, especially if you're playing on eshop or N.E.S. online. If just one of these mechanics were taken away, or one more was added, it would be too much. This is literally the perfect balance.
There is a two player mechanic, and if two people are playing, then they can alternate turns based off of when the first one loses. They continue on the level they left off on. Sure, maybe one of them could potentially beat the entire game before the other one has a chance to play, but I highly doubt that would happen. Still a nice way to incorporate two people into a game.
Once the main game is beaten, the player has an option to play a harder mode of the regular game. Here are all the main differences I found:
All of the goombas are replaced with buzzy beetles, which also make some of the darker levels harder because they blend in better
The moving platforms in some stages are 30% of their original size
Easier levels at the beginning of the game are replaced with harder ones
The firebars in the castle stages are a lot longer
Fireballs in the castle stages are more frequent
Overall, it does a good job of making the first couple of levels harder, but the later ones? Not so much.
I think this may be one of the first, if not the first, N.E.S. game to not just have a generic black background. The whole game is one of the first games to genuinely look alive, with clouds, bushes, and other decorations as some of the levels alternate backgrounds. That is something that I want to mention as well, there are some levels that go underground, and while it switches up the graphics and music, it doesn't have the gameplay impact that the castle levels switch does.
Video games music is often the most memorable part. And I think this game showcases that the best out of any game there is. You don't even need to google what the overworld theme or underworld or castle theme is, heck, you probably just speed listened to all of them in your head when I brought them up. That just shows how good this game's music is, and how every theme perfectly matches the world it's played in. Sure, it may be a little outdated today, but there is no doubt of its influence on gaming music in general.
Super Mario Bros is a game that like any other good N.E.S. game, kinda falls victim to it being replicated and repeated throughout history. Like for example, you could argue that Super Mario Maker and its sequel have completely eliminated the need to go back and play this game because its likely that every level in the game was made in those two games. You also cant really argue that its better than some of its sequels too, but on its own while it definitely has some flaws, nobody who played this game would ever think that its a bad game, and its clear to see why it had the impact on gaming that it did. So for that, Im gonna give this game a 4/5 .
Remakes and ports
One of the biggest remakes of this game was its remake in the Super Mario All Stars collection. Aside from an upgrade in the quality of the music and the graphics, here are some key differences that I noticed playing though it.
-Theres a save feature, which now allows you to save what level youre at -You can change the button layout to make it easier to play on the S.N.E.S. -There are multiple save files, meaning that the entire family can play their own separate games -You can replay worlds that you have already beaten -during the maze levels there are sounds which indicate whether you are going the right way or not.
So no real gameplay changes, just a bunch of quality of life updates.
While this was part of the Gameboy advance “classics” system, I never got a chance to play it so I can't really compare them
There was a version of this game released as part of Marios 35th anniversary called Super Mario 35, which consisted of a battle royale version of this game that took a lot of inspiration from Tetris 99. But i'd almost consider that a separate game entirely, and it's not a good way to experience the original game.
So out of all of these, the All Stars remake is definitely the best one in my opinion, but granted I haven't played one of them, is it better than the original? Just the fact that you can save your progress might guarantee a yes, but to me, the newer graphics just always looked kind of weird and off to me, I felt like the original game was designed around the limitations of the N.E.S. and seeing a game try to do what without the N.E.S.’s limitations just kinda looked…off… So I really dont think there I have an answer if its better than the original.
Ways to play this game today -If you have an original N.E.S. and a copy of this game you can play it that way, but assuming you don't, I'd eliminate this one. -If you have it downloaded on you Wii, you can play it that way, but the wiishop is closed in 2021, so you'd have to have it already downloaded -Its one of the 30 games available on the N.E.S. classic, but I wouldn't buy it just for this game alone (this is mainly how I played it for this review) -Its available for $4.99 on eshop for Wiiu and 3ds, which I think is a bit of a steal for this game -Its available on N.E.S. online, but again, dont buy it for this game alone, although the freeze frame ability is useful for fixing stupid mistakes. -You could also remake the entire game in Super Mario Maker 2 for free, but in case you can hear the sarcasm in my voice, you can see why this is a bad idea -its available on the game & watch Super Mario Bros addiction,
As for the SNES remake
-If you have an original copy of the game and a SNES you could play it that way, but assuming you don't have that, I'd eliminate this option. -This game was ported to the wii for Marios 25th anniversary, so you can play it on there -This game is available on SNES online, but I wouldnt buy it for this game alone, although freeze frame is helpful for fixing dumb mistakes (this is mainly how I played it for this review)
Thats gonna be it for my thoughts, but what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Id love to know! Until then, happy gaming.
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