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CONSOLE: NES DEVELOPER: Nintendo PUBLISHER: Nintendo
RELEASE DATE (NA): October 1985 GENRE: Platformer
// review by Jeff

Lou Albano approves, so why don't you?

Mario is my hero. I shall explain why. You see, even though I love video games as though they were sprung from my own loins, I just can't seem to truly enjoy games without a predetermined completion point. Games that continue on forever (Asteroids, Galaga, Space Invaders, etc.) simply do not float my boat. Getting a "high score" doesn't mean much to me -- and it certainly means a lot less today for most gamers. Prior to the arrival of Super Mario Bros. for the NES, that was pretty much all one could expect from a video game. And then, it came: a game with an ending, a real ending! A "no need to play past this point for you are truly the master" type of ending! Joy!

At the time, saving damsels in distress was not considered cliché (like it would be today) and was not overused. Therefore, the fact that Princess Toadstool has been kidnapped by the evil King Koopa can be considered as a valid excuse for Mario and his green-coated brother Luigi to travel through numerous different settings in order to snag her up. This game is also the source of one of video gaming's more famous lines: "THANK YOU...BUT OUR PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE!" This line alone toyed with the emotions of many who believed that they had completed the game (but also soothed the nerves of those who were furious of a game that could be completed so quickly).

If you look at Super Mario Bros. today, it's a bit dated. Not without its nostalgic quaint apparel, the game suffers from the limited palette of the NES system. It is a first-generation NES title (try to wrap your mind around that phrase), and as a result, it is not as pretty as later titles in the console's library, but this is to be expected. Developers at the time (Nintendo included) were just starting to get a feel for the capabilities of the system, so we could only expect the first wave of games to be simplistic-looking; they were experimental, and Super Mario Bros., too, was an experiment. Fortunately, it was a successful one, as players clamored over the relatively detailed look of Mario and Luigi and the drug-induced world within which the plumber pair would travel.

If you also check out the audio aspect of this game, it is certainly a step up from games of the past which had very basic background music (if any at all). This game brings forth the origin of the Super Mario theme song (before Lou Albano mucked it up while informing us that we should be "doing the Mario") and it has still survived to this date! Meanwhile, the sound effects are rather...bouncy, to say the least. They are light-hearted fare, consisting of boings for jumps, little "pwa" noises for fireballs being ...fired, and other little trinkets for your ossicles to savour. But on the plus side, the fire that Bowser breathes sounds somewhat crackly and flame-like. The NES sound hardware was not great; do not expect symphonic quality.


From Regular Mario to Fire Mario, he's got that snazzy Italian charm...and wicked mustache.

The gameplay was fairly basic (move from left to right, jump, shoot if equipped to do so), but also fairly new in an industry whose games were usually score-based, as I had mentioned earlier. It was probably much more accessible to many non-gamers to have a set quest for everyone as opposed to getting one's score consistently overruled by more skilled (and quarter-potent) players. Super Mario Bros. also brought us great innovations that we take for granted today, such as traveler's pipes, growth mushrooms, and invincibility stars. These have now become trademarks of the Mario universe, and citizens rejoice when they encounter one in pretty much ANY Mario title!

I praise this game, for it was indeed the very FIRST video game that I ever played. Thus, it holds a special place within my fragile gamer's psyche. Of course, its splendor has been ellipsed by other games that came later, but as a gaming community, we cannot easily forget the contribution that Super Mario Bros. delivered to the world of home video gaming. Yep.


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