Monday, July 29, 2013

Classic Review - Super Mario Bros

For quite awhile now I have been receiving requests to review classic games such as NES and SNES games. Although I, nor have any of our other writers, have never written a NES or SNES review for NGR; it has never been out of the question. The main reason for this is simply because there are a lot of games in the world, and new ones come out just about every day. Instead of completely focusing on the past, I have always tried to get as many current game reviews out there as possible while only stepping into the past from time to time. Well anyway, today that is going to change. From this point on NGR will be covering classic game reviews (other than GCN classics and the occasional PlayStation game), and for the first review I wanted to cover a true classic. In fact this game might as well be the definition of the word "classic" in the gaming world.

NES Classic Review - Super Mario Bros


Back in 1985 the Japanese video game developer Nintendo took the world by storm. After they released the "Nintendo Entertainment System," video games once again entered the market, and the world of gaming was changed forever. For the first time since the "great video game crash," people were once again playing video games, but these games were unlike anything seen before on a home console. Unlike the game consoles of the past, the NES was an 8-bit console. It had (for its time) amazing and colorful graphics, the games were much larger and advance, and for the first time kids and adults could play almost arcade quality games in their homes. For its time, the NES was an amazing console, and along with it came some pretty amazing games; one of which being the game that was at the center of the "revolution." A little game called "Super Mario Bros."

The Story of Super Mario Bros:

In a far away land called the "Mushroom Kingdom," the princess is captured by a monster known as the "Koopa King." With no one else to save her, fellow plumber (and hero) Mario and his brother Luigi comes to save the day. Will they be able to save the poor princess? Or will she always be in another castle? The only way to find out is to play the game.


The Gameplay:

Although Super Mario Bros follows Mario (aka Jumpman) from the arcade game Donkey Kong and the "Mario Bros" arcade, the gameplay is completely different. Super Mario Bros is a 2D side scrolling platformer which has you playing as Mario (or Luigi if you are playing with a second player) as you make your way through 8 "world" stages to save the princess. Each world is broken up into a few smaller levels, with a castle at the end of each.

The basic gameplay in Mario has you moving him left and right, jumping with the jump button, and running by holding down the run button. Most of the world is filled with floating brick blocks, floating blocks with a question mark on them, large green pipes, large golden coins, and enemies. Although the brick blocks act as platforms at first, Mario can actually power up and break them for extra points. If you hit a question mark box, there is always the chance that you will get a reward Although this reward normally comes in the form of extra coins (which if you collect 100 of you'll get an extra life), sometimes you'll get either a red mushroom, or a red flower known as a "fire flower." If you are still "Small Mario" as some fans like to call it, picking up one of these objects will actually make Mario grow. In this form Mario is not only strong enough to smash the floating brick blocks, but he can also take an extra hit as well. Normally if an enemy touches Mario he will die, but if an enemy touches "Big Mario," he will simply shrink back to his smaller size and live to fight another day.


Even though the fire flower can also make Mario grow, it has another use IF and ONLY if Mario is already in his larger form. Touching a fire flower in this state will give Mario the ability to shoot fireballs out of his hand which can be used to kill enemies. While this is one of Mario's main forms of offense, it isn't his only one, nor is it the one you will even be using most of the time. Since this ability will be lost the moment you are hit, Mario's other option to kill enemies is by jumping on their heads and flattening them. While a lot of the enemies in the games will be walking mushrooms called "Goombas," there are also other enemies such as turtles (called "Koopas") which will be immune to this sort of attack. To defeat these enemies you will either have to shoot them with a fireball, or stomp on their head to put them in their shell form, then kick the shell off the cliff (or into other enemies). The only other option to deal with these is to find come across the rare "final" power up. The Super Star.


The Super Star is a star that is hidden in a select few levels, and when picked up it makes Mario completely invincible. Mario will begin to flash, catchy music will begin to play, and everything you touch will die the moment you come in contact with it. The Super Star is one of the most useful abilities in the game, but sadly it only lasts for a limited time.

As you make your way through the levels, you will come across many different secrets. There are hidden blocks which will net you extra lives (in the form of green mushrooms), there are hidden "coin blocks" hidden within groups of brick blocks, some pipes actually act as "warp pipes" to send you to hidden rooms and areas, and there are even hidden "warp zones" which allow you to skip levels. Since there is in fact no option to save in the original game, warp zones become extremely useful when it comes getting back to where you left off when you died, but finding them can prove to be the real challenge. To finish a level "normally," simply jump into the flag pole at the end of the stage, and the game will then progress onto the next.


Although Super Mario Bros is mostly a single player game, it did have a multiplayer mode as well. In this mode players take turns playing through the levels to simply see how far they can get. Having two players doesn't actually change the gameplay, but it does serve as a way for your friends to join in without having to completely start the game so they can take their turn.

The Good and the Bad:

Super Mario Bros truly is a hard game to judge. For its time, it was flat out outstanding. The game had some amazing music (which has been remixed time and time again even today), its graphics were outstanding for its time, it was a solid platformer which put platforming games in general on the map, the game was filled with hidden secrets, it offered a challenge yet it was still easy enough for kids to play, and it is the game that really introduced Mario to the world. Although Mario had appeared in the arcades and even on Atari, Super Mario Bros was the first time he actually stared in a "full length game," and it is why he is still popular even toady. Overall though, how is the game really?


Well, the thing about Super Mario Bros is that you have to realize when it was released. By today's standard, the game is very dated. While it still plays just fine, it is extremely limited compared to other platformers on the market (including other Mario games). The game is pretty short by today's standards, there aren't as many power ups as in future Mario releases, the graphics could be considered dated due to them being 8-bit (although Nintendo did later release a 16-bit version), and overall the game is just very basic. It's just a standard platformer where you are almost always moving to the right (you could not backtrack to the left in early versions), and it really just doesn't do anything special. In today's world with the tools we have now, Super Mario Bros would have been an easy game to develop, and could have possibly been finished in less than a day.

Even so, it really isn't fair to rate the game based on what it is today, or by comparing it to the games that we have today. The bottom line is, Super Mario Bros is still fun. Even after all these years it is still a fun platformer to play, and it is also one that can be found easily. If you have never played a Mario game, I recommend checking out one of the later ones first, but I still feel that Super Mario Bros is a classic game that every gamer should play at least once in their life. It is the game that actually revived gaming, and we owe a lot of what we have today to Mario in general. Despite how dated it may seem, I am still going to give Super Mario Bros for the NES an 8/10.

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