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Super Mario Bros. (NES) artwork

Super Mario Bros. (NES) review


"Super Mario Bros laid the path for platform genre; you could play any platform game that was released after it and pick out the features that SMB defined. The collecting of one hundred objects to gain an extra life, jumping on the heads of enemies and powering your character up were all taken from this NES classic. It wasnít Marioís first appearance in the gaming world. He had hit fame with two other arcade oldies known as Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. It was only at the release of Super Mario ..."



Super Mario Bros laid the path for platform genre; you could play any platform game that was released after it and pick out the features that SMB defined. The collecting of one hundred objects to gain an extra life, jumping on the heads of enemies and powering your character up were all taken from this NES classic. It wasnít Marioís first appearance in the gaming world. He had hit fame with two other arcade oldies known as Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. It was only at the release of Super Mario bros that the side-scrolling platform game was defined. It was the beginning of a revolution.

Super Mario Bros dropped Mario and his brother Luigi (player two) into the wacky world of the Mushroom Kingdom. The story is simple; the evil turtle king, Bowser has kidnapped the Princess of this magical world. Heís also turned all of the residents into blocks and created an army of minions to do his every command. Itís up to everyoneís favourite Plumber to go out and rescue the princess and bring that fat ass Bowser down.

Mario is easy to control; with the A button he will jump and when you hold down B when Mario walks it will make him run. As you run along the levels, youíll find blocks floating in the air. Some are just plain brick while most of them are marked with ? and jumping into one will cause various effects. The majority of the time they will release a coin which will be added to your collection. Collecting 100 coins will give you an extra life; youíll find them hovering everywhere. Sometimes, the block will release a mushroom. Collecting one of these will give Mario a sudden growth spurt. This will turn him into Super Mario, apart from making you bigger it will also allow you to withstand another hit from an enemy.

When you are big you can find fire flowers replacing these mushrooms. Your red dungarees and cap will turn white, allowing you to become Fire Mario. This allows you to shoot an unlimited supply of fireballs form your palm. The fireball will bounce along on the ground until it kills an enemy or goes off the screen. It will kill mostly everything in one hit and will also de-wing flying foes. The last and rarest item you can find is the power star; this will make Mario invincible for a brief period of time. A bunch of these items are hidden in cloaked boxes, sometimes youíll jump and accidentally head butt one open.

If you have a friend, you can play the game in two player mode. One of you will play as Mario and the second person will control Luigi. Both are the same except that Luigi has a white pair of overalls and a green T-shirt. He plays exactly like Mario and when he gets the fire flower, he looks exactly the same as Mario. The first player will start the game and keep on going until he is vanquished by a foe or obstacle. Then, player two will start from the beginning and try to catch up. If he dies, player one will pick from where he perished and continue his adventure. Itís almost like a race to the finish between the two players, itís very competitive and fun as hell.

Numerous foes and obstacles will hinder your journey. The treacherous Goombas are evil mushrooms that have betrayed the Mushroom Kingdom by joining the ranks of Bowser. With one jump, youíll squish the Ďshrooms into paste. Koopa Troopaís are mindless turtles that walk towards you, stomping on the turtle will make it return to its shell and with a kick, you can send that shell flying into other enemies, wiping out heaps of goombaís and other koopas. Unfortunately, they can ricochet back at you if they hit a wall, taking away a life or bringing you down to size. The ones with the red shells are more intelligent than the green ones as they wont amble off edges. The flying Red koopa tries not to go to far while the green ones will keep on going until they hit something. Black koopas have more protection and they can resist your fire while spiny koopas (spawned from the cloud flying Lakitu) can only be killed by fire or another shell projectile.

The worlds that Mario visits will include valleys, caves, underwater worlds and castles belonging to Bowser. The valley and cave levels are your basic Mario style levels which youíll have to walk through and get to the flag at the end before the time limit expires. Youíll find that the first cave levels have special hidden warp zones which can warp you a few worlds ahead. If you like to cheat then this will be perfect for you. Youíll be offered a selection of pipes which transport you to the beginning of its world, itís a cheaters way out but it skips a lot of the hard stuff. Novices may wish to warp to see new areas of the game to experience later levels. The other two level types are a bit different: the water levels allow Mario to swim through an underwater safari of bird-bird fish and homing squid. Mario canít kill anything underwater unless he has the fire power so youíll have to be on your guard if you are normal Mario; one slip could mean death.

Lastly, we have the Koopa castles; which are filled with tricks and traps that will lead to your doom. Pits of molten larva, fireballs spewing everywhere and, on a few occasions, mazes that drive you round the bend. Youíll find that youíre going around in circles until you choose the right way to go. Youíll be given a selection of three, if you pick the wrong one you will loop back to the beginning. These can be very tricky and extremely monotonous; they also cause you to run out of time because youíll spend a lot of it running around like a headless chicken.

When you get the end of the castle, youíll go one on one with Bowser. Heíll spit fireballs at you and on later stages heíll throw a countless amount of hammers. You can be tactical or sacrificial at this stage because to defeat him, you must get past him and press the button at the far end of the screen. This will drop him into a pool of larva. If you have a fire flower or a mushroom, you can jump through him and revert back to normal Mario. Then you will pass through him and press the button. If youíre a real man, you can run under him when he jumps in the air or you can leap over him when he spits out fireballs. All of the bosses are like this and you fight the same Bowser sprite eight times . This process is repeated until you finally get to the Princess in world eight, who asks you to start the game again but with a harder difficulty.

The game is pretty blocky; Mario is pretty square when he is bigger and when heís midget Mario, heís given quite a bit of detail. The enemies are quite impressive: the Goombas have a grumpy expression on their faces while the Koopa troopas look highly comedic because they have a dull blank expression. SMBís best sprite is Bowser as he is quite large and has plenty of details on his body, his spiked shell and evil smirk are not too shabby when you look at the age of the game. Just think that back in 1984 this stuff was the best that anyone had seen before, itís hard to imagine that now. The backgrounds are very basic stuff, just blue backgrounds for the sky, with a couple of hedges and clouds scribbled in. The rest is just a sheet of black or blue.

Super Mario Bros. offers a small selection of highly memorable tunes, the Mario brothers theme song is without a doubt the most popular gaming track in the history of the industry; bar none. The cave music would probably come in second place on that list, everyone knows that tune. The sound effects are also just as memorable, everyone knows the noise Mario makes when he jumps, when he grows/shrinks and when he kicks a shell. They are old and rusty but their importance to Marioís popularity is unmistakably crucial.

Marioís original adventure remains as something that is still extremely fun. Even twenty years after itís original release it is still something that people can sit down and have a great time with. It started the most popular gaming series ever and made Nintendo one of the biggest forces in gaming. If someone hasnít played this game then you can bet your life that they have played one the games more popular sequels, like Super Mario World. The magic of the new Mario is losing its touch but his original adventure will never die. Itís an immortal classic which was flawed only by the annoying castle levels. It may not be the best Mario game in the series, but itís pretty damn close.

Rating: 9/10

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Community review by goldenvortex (April 08, 2005)

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