I will admit, writing a review on such a timeless classic sounds kind of weird to me. In the 25+ years that this game has been out, it’s likely been reviewed thousands of times already, and most people seeing this are probably thinking to themselves, “Yawn, just another Super Mario Bros review”.
You’ve probably heard of them all by now: hundreds of variations of how Nintendo became famous from this game, people going on about the good ol’ days of gaming, groundbreaking gameplay, and on the list goes… I’ll keep my review plain and simple:
Super Mario Bros is an awesome example of what a game needs in order to be fun and entertaining for years to come.
Super Mario Bros is a world famous game whose mascot has become more recognizable than many present day celebrities. If anyone has never heard of Mario, they are either too young to hold a controller, or perhaps too old-fashioned to immerse themselves into the gaming lifestyle.
But even then, whether you have played it or not, it’s very likely that you have seen the face of Mario at some point in your life. Let’s be real, fellow gamers, you know Mario, especially if you’ve found your way to this page. If anything, let this review be seen as yet another account from a gamer who loves to reflect on their favorite games growing up… But for those who don’t know, here’s my Super Mario Bros review!
But First, a Little History Lesson
This game is regarded by many as the the greatest game ever made, for a very good reason. Back in the 80’s, the video game industry had experienced a massive recession, known to many as the video game crash of 1983 (you can read all about that in a future post). To make a long story short, no one would buy any video games due to how many there were at the time, and it didn’t help that the quality of these games were bad, to say the least.
Then along came Super Mario Bros. Just as Star Wars changed the way we look at movies, Super Mario changed the way we looked at video games. Super Mario Bros was the game that brought video games back into the spotlight, and inspired millions of kids around the world to play video games.
I feel proud to count myself among that group of 90’s kids who grew up with this system!
Super Mario Bros is probably one of the greatest games ever made, and among the greatest selling games of all time, selling at least 40 million copies, if I’m not mistaken. The game came out in 1985, bundled with the NES, which of course set the future standard for bundling games with game consoles.
My First Game
My parents bought the NES a few years before I ever came into the picture. One of the stories I remember being told as a kid was when my mom was pregnant with me. While my dad was at work, she would be at home, playing the NES. She would always rest the controller on her belly while playing. Feels like a sign, doesn’t it? Who knows what life I may have lived had they not owned the Nintendo Entertainment System?
Once I was few years older, I got to play Super Mario Bros! The version my parents had came with the additional Duck Hunt shooting game (which I will cover in a later post). I will never forget World 1-1, or the first time I discovered the Warp Zone! Of course, between my and my brother, I always got to play Mario!
This is the first video game I have ever played in my life. That said, it holds a special place in my heart when it comes to gaming, and so it makes sense for me to write my first review on this classic game. For over 25 years, Mario and Luigi have been running and jumping across the screen, stomping Goombas, collecting coins, and saving the Mushroom Kingdom, time and time again.
At its very core, the game is fairly straightforward and simple: move to the right side of the screen, collecting coins, power-ups, and stomping baddies along the way. Games of those days were as simple as they come when it came to controls. A to jump, B to dash and shoot fireballs, the D-Pad to move, and the Start Button to pause the game with that iconic “Di-Doo Di-Doo!” sound.
What made this game so awesome was how crisp those controls were. While originally being marketed as an Action game, Super Mario Bros is a platformer by today’s standards. Players have a lot of control over Mario’s ability to jump; the longer you hold down the A Button, the higher he will jump. If you jump while running, Mario will not only jump farther, but also higher, allowing you to reach otherwise unreachable places with well timed jumps. One thing to note, however: while you may have some degree of control over Mario while he is airborne, you will still need to plan your jumps, lest you end up in a pit. Of course, that is the brilliance of platformers; planning every move as you progress through the level.
However, there is more to Mario’s jumping and control; the level design is just as important as the gameplay itself. World 1-1 brilliantly sums up everything you can do in the game without throwing everything at you all at once.
There’s not much of a story to be told within the game itself. Truth be told, I didn’t know there was a story until I found the original game manual hidden in the basement of my home. Within its pages comes a simple story, that, when you think about it, is kind of dark. According to the game manual, Bowser, King of the Koopas, used his black magic to turn the people of the Mushroom Kingdom into blocks, bricks, and other objects…. Think about that the next time you smash that block to grab that coin!
Truth is, the game doesn’t need a embellished story to be a great game. If I never read the manual, my experience would probably never be changed (except for the smashing block-people part, but hey, that makes for an interesting pacifist playthrough, doesn’t it?)
It seems weird to rate a game based on graphics, but for its time, this game did remarkably well. Compared to other NES games, this one has a very colorful palette of bright reds, blues, and greens. It’s amazing what the old consoles could do with only 256 colors, if that!
Keep in mind that I rate game graphics based on similar other games of its time. In 2016, where we have high definition textures, 3D models, and advanced engines, it’s certainly not fair to compare retro games with those of today.
To put it bluntly, this is the game that started it all. We wouldn’t be playing anything like what we have today if not for this masterpiece. This game brought the video game industry back from the depths it dropped after the video game crash of 1983. Like a phoenix that rose from the ashes. The game industry has been getting better ever since Super Mario Bros was released.
A game this old is not going to be found inside major retailers (unless it gets re-released as a bundle or a remake), but you may be able to find it on Ebay or Amazon for a decent price. Taking a trip to your local flea market or a yard sale is another great way of finding old gems like Super Mario Bros.
Even if you play modern games nowadays, I still suggest giving this one a play at some point in your life. You will be playing a piece of history. If you still own your copy of Super Mario Brothers for the NES, keep it. Some time in the future, when you have children, you’ll want them to share the same memories that you had when you first played it.
Just remember to blow on that cartridge if it doesn’t work the first time!