Super Mario Bros. (NES) Review

Super Mario Bros Game

There have been times on this blog where a marathon has led me to having to review something that makes me go “What new can I possibly say about that?” This is one of those times. The original Super Mario Bros. is iconic, addictive and its influence on the industry can’t be overstated. Even in 2019 the game is still fun to play, a joy to listen to, and has charming sprite-based graphics… In other words, the polar opposite of the film version (reviewed here!) Let’s take a deeper look anyway.

Background:

Super Mario Bros Game 1

Is there a more recognisable level one than this?

Super Mario Bros. was released for the NES in Japan in 1985, in the US either the same year or 1987 (oddly people can’t seem to agree on this…?) and in Europe in May 1987. It has been rereleased so many times that I can’t be bothered to count…

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the game is iconic, and in the literal sense. It revolutionised many gameplay elements, put great emphasis on music in games, and pretty much sold so well that it’s often praised for reviving gaming in general after the infamous 1983 market crash.

Gameplay:

Super Mario Bros Game 4

From a classic start screen, to a classic boss screen!

What is there to say about SMB? You scroll to the right, jump on enemies to kill them (or kick koopa shells at them!), you collect power ups like the super mushroom to grow bigger (and be able to take an extra hit), a fire flower to be able to fire fireballs at your enemies, or pick up a star man to become invincible for the certain length of time.

At the end of each stage, which is broken up into three parts, you face Bowser (or technically a Goomba disguised as Bowser for all but the last castle) and defeat him either by fire-flowering him to death, or more traditionally, to get behind him and touching the axe that removes the bridge from under your foe’s feet. You can play two-player as well, with the second person controlling Luigi and the two of you taking turns.

That’s it! But the platforming gets trickier, the enemies more varied and deadly, and the run up to Bowser gets harder and harder, too. My sole complaint about the game is the fact that you slide a bit when you run and land, which has led to my death on more than one occasion. It’s something that’s removed in all future games, but going back to Mario 1, it’s takes a bit of time to get used to the slide. Not long, and the levels are well designed so you don’t feel screwed over or anything, but I just wanted to mention it…

Graphics and Sound:

Super Mario Bros Game 3

An underwater section that ISN’T a pain in the arse!

The graphics, while basic (especially compared to even later Mario games on the NES) they still have detail and charm to them. The sprites are animated well enough, the backgrounds may lack detail and repeat often, but they do the job perfectly well.

Music-wise, composer Kuji Kondo can’t be praised enough. Each piece of music is catchy, memorable and has rightly become, yes here’s that word again, iconic. Sound effects are worth mentioning too, each is clear, distinctive and well coded. All these decades later and the game is still a delight to the ears.

Story:

Super Mario Bros Game 6

The Hammer Bros. … what a bunch of tossers (Literally! HA!… Sorry.)

Princess Toadstool (yes, not renamed Peach yet!) is kidnapped by Bowser, and Mario (and Luigi, I guess!) cross the Mushroom Kingdom in order to get her back. After several castles where a Toad (a mushroom person, not a frog-like thing) informs our hero that the Princess is in another castle, Mario eventually defeats Bowser and frees his love interest. That’s it!

Thoughts Then:

Super Mario Bros Game 2

… Come on, we’ve all done it…

While my brother, who had the NES, didn’t own Super Mario Bros., we rented it out from our local place a couple of times, and I played around my friend Jack’s house as well. I remember enjoying it, though given my age I found it really hard and didn’t have enough access to it to get any good. I remember being blown away by the hidden warp pipes found by walking along the top of the stage. Still though, all things being said, I have fonder memories of the next two (Western) releases in the series…

4 Star Game Old

Thoughts Now:

Super Mario Bros Game 5

Mario dies by having a giant bullet fired at his arse. Makes sense!

Now? Well, I still have fonder memories of 2 and 3, but it’s still fun to play. The sliding can be annoying your first few goes, but there is still plenty of fun to be had with Super Mario Bros. The challenge is good without being too cheap, the look and sound of the game is still great and charming, and generally you feel like you’re playing a real part of history. Recommended everyone at least play it once…

4 Star Game New

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