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Super Mario Bros. (NES) artwork

Super Mario Bros. (NES) review


"I donít like it. I donít like Super Mario Bros. The original one. The one that everyone waxes over as that magical game that got them into gaming . . . or that advanced gaming beyond the wastes of Atari . . . or the game that brought color to black and white, changed Coke into Pepsi, caused Atlantis to submerge into the ocean, allow for life to exist on earth, and prove that, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. "



I donít like it. I donít like Super Mario Bros. The original one. The one that everyone waxes over as that magical game that got them into gaming . . . or that advanced gaming beyond the wastes of Atari . . . or the game that brought color to black and white, changed Coke into Pepsi, caused Atlantis to submerge into the ocean, allow for life to exist on earth, and prove that, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Oh sure, I can see the appeal . . . if you first played it in 1985. That wasnít me, though. I first played it in 199X. Does that make me any less of a gamer than you? Does that make me any less qualified to write some words down on a piece of blank writing template so my mighty yet minority voice can be heard? I think not! And let me tell you something, reader, you very well may not have first played Super Mario Bros. 1 in 1985. You may very well have only played it for the first time in 199X or 200X, thought it was merely good or dare I even say OK (a far cry from magical!), and yet you felt compelled to go with the masses and adamantly proclaim this archaic piece of software as The Greatest Game of All Time all for the sake of fitting in among internet strangers. Strike down your thoughts and learn to think for yourself!

Super Mario Bros. 1 is not the greatest game ever. Nor is it the most influential. Greatness and influence are immeasurable. If it were up to me, Resident Evil 4 would be the greatest game ever, but even I know such lofty praise is ultimately superfluous. After all, even Resident Evil 4 would have to be bested at some point. On the flipside, you say that Mario spawned Nintendoís success. But its success has always been driven by the commercialism that Mario evokes. If Mario didnít bring it, some other game would have, whether it was made by Nintendo or not. Where there are markets, there exist opportunities, one of which Nintendo was able to seize because they were in the right place at the right time with the Famicom. In spite of that, though, their company history has been tumultuous. And while Nintendo has done well throughout long periods of their history, theyíve performed equally poorly between those peaks of success, too. People will always buy Nintendo because its consumers seek more than just the games that are offered. They seek the nostalgia that those franchises evoke. None can convey that nostalgia more strongly than Mario. I will acknowledge this point. But Iím not everyone, and I maintain no nostalgia by playing Super Mario Bros. 1.

To me, any luster that that game would have had was lost as soon as Super Mario Bros. 2 came out. Two offers greater challenge, has greater variety, and is over all a more memorable experience to me, if only because I hated playing with Luigi and in spite of the emasculation preferred to play as Princess Toadstool (who finally got rescued from that other castle). Still, SMB2 is older than dirt, and reliving its floaty controls isnít on the top of my to-do list for this decade. Yet I like it more than Super Mario Bros. 1! Which isnít saying much because I really donít care for either game.

Donít get me wrong, Iím not trying to spark controversy, but rather just offer a different kind of opinion. If SMB1 was top of the line in video games in this day and age, I simply wouldnít play games, and Iíd find something else to do with my time. The allure to playing a stodgy old game with simplistic graphics holds limited appeal to me, and jumping on mobile turtles and mushrooms doesnít pique my interest in the slightest. I prefer the realism of 3D and the stylishness of grandiose production values, or at least the charming allure to a haunting environment as the one seen in >Limbo. I like games that make me think, that emote their message stylistically. With Super Mario Bros. 1, I feel that Iím being told what to perceive by video game journalism ďexpertsĒ at big name websites. If SMB1 was genuinely the absolute best gaming experience you ever had, then I would retort by speculating you havenít played many games.

I, on the other hand, have played many games, or at least more than Iíd care to admit. I can see that Super Mario Bros. 1 is technically sound. Itís not a bad game; I only find it disinteresting and over-lauded. In spite of that, Iíve played and beaten it several times, if only because each session has only last for a few minutes. Iíve bested it through uncovering hidden warps and by legitimately playing through each of the eight worldís three sub-stages. Iíve even explored the Minus World . . . Iíve done all these things, and each time Iíve been horribly bored, which has led me to resent playing it in the first place. I just didnít get the punch line. It wasnít funny to me.

If you subscribe to the opinion that Super Mario Bros. 1 is one of the greatest, if not the greatest game ever, my wordsmithing is not likely to change your mind. Thatís all right with me. I donít get a cut from any person or entity for making you buy, play, or avoid a game. I couldnít care less if you agree with me or not on this matter or any other matter. I wonít think youíre cool if you do, nor will I think youíre silly if you donít. Iím just a solitary figure trying to make my way through the universe, one day at a time. Lists mean nothing to me.

Rating: 4/10

Fiddlesticks's avatar
Community review by Fiddlesticks (August 10, 2013)

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ThoughtFool1 posted August 10, 2013:

I'm glad you like to go against the grain and think for yourself. But I would prefer that if you review a game you spend more time elaborating on why you think a game deserves a score you give it based on the merits (or lack thereof) of the game itself...it seems like you spent more time writing about how your opinion diverges from the majority rather than WHY your opinion diverges from the majority.
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Fiddlesticks posted August 10, 2013:

Jimmy crack corn and I don't care.
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zigfried posted August 10, 2013:

Hmm. Well, I played the original Super Mario Bros back in 1985 or 1986. It's an intelligently-assembled game, although I'd hardly call it the greatest. Not even close. There are tons of games I'd rather play. I've never been motivated to buy any of the GBA or Virtual Console re-releases of SMB1. Just not interested.

That being said, Super Mario Bros was influential. Anything can be dismissed with statements like "If Mario didnít bring it, some other game would have, whether it was made by Nintendo or not". Anything in this world could have hypothetically been done by someone else, if the people who really did it first hadn't actually done it first. I mean hell, if Lucas hadn't made Star Wars, someone else would have made an influential sci-fi movie. It's very easy to downplay something's importance when you dismiss reality.

So I guess what I'm saying is -- even though I think we might agree on the surface -- your opinion appears to be wrong because it appears to be unsupported.

It's too bad you don't care. If you did care, then you might have actually written a good review.

//Zig
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Fiddlesticks posted August 10, 2013:

That fine.
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holdthephone posted August 10, 2013:

One of the best pieces I've seen on this site in a long time. Wonderful work, Fiddle.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted August 11, 2013:

You come off as very defensive in this review, and I'm used to you being more brutally honest.
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maboroshi posted August 11, 2013:

Hmm...I'm of two minds about this review. Personally ( speaking as someone who was born at the dawn of the ps1 era) I agree that SMB 1 is no longer the great game it was due to the sequels surpassing it, that's just what happens with innovation and progress. That said the game was important and was influential. The idea that a similar game would have been released is a null argument. The game was released and it did something important, that can't be taken away from it.

I'm not trying to knock you ( it takes a lot of courage to say that you don't care for this game) you don't come across as trying to explain why you dislike the game and more like you are trying to defend that you dislike it.
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zippdementia posted August 12, 2013:

SMB may be simple, but I still really enjoy it. I find the controls a little drifty, but it's a very satisfying game that still kicks my ass to this day. That's my mini review.

Onto yours! Knocking SMB feels a little sophmoric (not to put too fine a point on it) if only because it's a little bit like knocking Citizen Kane or Breathless or Easy Rider. I think I'd be more interested if you actually analyzed the game's design and pointed out where it falls apart for you. But I think you'd have a difficult time doing that, because technically the game is almost perfect. Everything from level construction to the placement of enemies is done with a high and deliberate level of understanding of the gamer who will be playing it. Stylistically it may be outdated, but it would be difficult to actually lay out the parts of SMB and call any of them cheaply made. I would've enjoyed reading your take on that, though!

Regardless, you've stirred up some activity in the comments, and that's cool! Also, I like that you have balls. Keep writing!
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zippdementia posted August 12, 2013:

If that last bit sounds condescending and/or patronizing, it's not meant to be. I really do want to see more Fiddlesticks reviews...
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dagoss posted September 23, 2013:

This web site wouldn't exist if Super Mario Bros hadn't been made. It's not that someone couldn't have figured out how to make platform games or side-scrolling games or whatever. It's that Venter and the people that contributed to build this site probably wouldn't have cared.

Super Mario Bros created the 1st generation of gamers that gave a shit. (Final Fantasy VII probably created the 2nd generation)

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