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Mario Clock (DS) artwork

Mario Clock (DS) review

"Mario Clock has too many limitations to be genuinely useful, but it's still a mildly interesting bit of software."

Mario Clock on the Nintendo DSi is one of those oddities that will soon be lost to the mists of time and recalled only when self-styled gaming historians feel like throwing up a quick video about something they figure most people have forgotten. But until that inevitable future becomes reality, you can still find the title available on the eShop for a paltry $1.99. Download it today and enjoy for yourself the thrilling adventures of... an alarm clock.

Let's not kid ourselves. Most of us already have a perfectly functional clock resting by our bedside, or we can pull a phone out of our pocket when we need to know the time. Way back in 2009, things were a little different for a lot of folks (especially for younger kids, who were less likely to have their own smartphones than they are in 2019). That dark period was the one this "game" was designed to serve. If you're not looking to add glorified clock functionality to your DSi or 3DS, and if you're not interested in bizarre software that has no particularly good reason to exist today, you can safely skip Mario Clock. But if you do tend to enjoy the experience of messing with little weird things, keep reading for the juicy details you crave.

When you first load the application, it will introduce you to the basic controls you have at your disposal. You can press and hold the 'B' button to make Mario run, or the 'A' button to make him jump as he trots merrily through familiar landscapes drawn from the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Available settings include (but are not limited to) a nighttime field setting, like the one that originally appeared in worlds 3 and 6, or the cloudy bonus area, or Bowser's Castle or what have you. Layouts cycle repeatedly, and either a digital or analog time is reflected prominently on the screen.

As Mario moves about, he will snag coins or break bricks and such. When he collects 100 of the glittering shekels, Luigi subs in for him. The two switch back and forth from there, and the application keeps track of how many times this event has occurred. On the analog clock, the various numbers are replaced by a small icon depicting one brother or the other, while for the digital clock, those same icons appear and the characters start running in the space above the time. If you collect enough coins and the brothers sub in and out enough, you get to witness a brief but appropriate event as a reward.

The stages are not particularly entertaining, but they do include a surprise hazard in the form of poisonous mushrooms. You sometimes will jump and hit a block that produces one of the nasty things, and touching it shrinks you to regular Mario or Luigi. In other cases, blocks produce mushrooms that let you grow into your "super" form (necessary if you want to be able to eventually shrink, or to break bricks). There are no pits or proper enemies in the game, and no timer, so there's no way to "die" while interacting with your clock. However, you can hit "POW" blocks to cause any coins and clock digits on the screen to quickly fall out of sight before reappearing, which is a nice touch.

Regarding the clock, by default it reflects the time you already have active on your portable system's hardware. If you need to make changes, you can adjust the time to something else, which will exit you out of the application and take you to the appropriate screen in your system's Settings. Or you can select "Time Offset" to adjust the time in relation to the system's functional time, if for some reason you need the two times to be different from one another.

An alarm clock tool is also available, which allows the application to serve a legitimate purpose... up to a point. You can provide times for up to three alarms at once and can enable or disable them with a tap of the stylus. When an alarm goes off, the system loudly plays the field theme song from Super Mario Bros. until you interact with your DSi or 3DS, even if you otherwise have the system's volume lowered or muted. Setting the lid and then closing your system so it enters sleep mode does not prevent the song from playing, as long as the application is running. This allows your system to function--to a helpful extent--like a proper alarm clock. If you exit out of the application to do other things, any alarm you may have set is of course useless.

Mario Clock has neither the price nor the functionality one might expect from premium software, but it's quite the digital curio for people who are content to be amused by such things. At only $1.99, it's really not a bad investment for devoted fans of both plumbers and the Mushroom Kingdom, but at this point there's not really much of anyone else who is likely to get a lot of value out of it.


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (November 19, 2019)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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