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Super Mario Bros. (NES) artwork

Super Mario Bros. (NES) review


"Mario will linger."


This is a rewrite for a game that has had much written about it.

Itís not because more needs to be stated on the original Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System, but rather that Iíve longed to set the record straight on a game I had previously bashed. My original write-up was critical. In this one I hope to set the record straight. Itís a simple title the likes of which founded a great and ongoing franchise. It spurred its developer to the forefront of a dying industry and energized pop culture to the likes of which no other video game character will ever be more recognizable.

Super Mario Bros. is Nintendo and video games and pixelated life in general. It begins on a simple stage. Run left to right, hop occasionally to score a power-up or offer an attack on a patrolling foe. Grab a size-enlarging mushroom or a fire-flinging enabling fire flower. Collect a star for temporary invisibility. One-hundred coins equals a new life, though the same result can be had by grabbing a differently colored mushroom than the one that grants increased size. Stomp a goomba to earn some points or crunch a Koopa and kick its shell. Watch out for piranha plants! Theyíll wreck Marioís feet but a turtle shell to the stem makes quick work of Ďem.

This is so simple and yet itís a testament to everlasting familiarity. Can you so easily rattle off the basic components that make up any other game? Maybe you can; I, for sure, cannot.

Through eight multi-segmented worlds exist an adventure that tasks Mario to traverse land, sea, and sky. Each final sub-stage is set in an ever more intimidating castle strewn with lava and other platforming perils, a sure-tell sign of its impending completion once massive fireballs start screeching Marioís way.

Who can forget each harrowing encounter with Bowser on a bridge, his flames and hammers offering the final barrier before Mario is able to rescue the princess? Who can remember feeling spurned to find out it wasnít the princess but rather a Toadie? Sheís in another castle, theyíll matter-of-factly tell poor Mario.

And so Mario will quest on, racing the timer but taking time to find secrets. The Minus World; the warp shortcut in Level 1-2; the one in Level 4-2. Itís been ages, yet Iíll never forget them. Just as Iíll never forget the instantly recognizable hymns that play along in the background to Marioís adventure, their unforgettable melodies establishing memories with each simple note.

I donít know why I wrote what I originally did on Super Mario Bros. Itís easy to crap on an old game in an era where games seek higher meaning with all their audiovisual impressiveness. I guess this is just my way of trying to set the record straight for myself at the request of myself. Super Mario Bros. will live on regardless.

Rating: 8/10


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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bbbmoney 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 13, 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 13, 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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