Super Mario Bros. Review

Super Mario Bros. Review

Super Mario Bros. is without a doubt one of the best known games and most revered games in the history of the video game industry. But how does it compare with more recent entries in Mario’s illustrious franchise? Read on in our Super Mario Bros. Review to find out.

So most of you have probably played Super Mario Bros. (or SMB) at some point in time. If you haven’t what are you waiting for? Even if you never finished it, you probably at least played part of the game. From the opening theme, one of the most memorable pieces of music in gaming history it’s clear that this is going to be an entertaining adventure through the Mushroom Kingdom. Yet, despite SMB being so highly thought of, the game is not without its flaws, especially when looking at it with a modern perspective and what Nintendo was able to do with later entries in the series.

For example, you can’t backtrack in this game. You can go right and that’s it. Well that’s not entirely true, you can go left to an extent. But you will eventually hit an invisible wall which prevents you from going further left. Later games in the SMB franchise don’t have this limitation. This could’ve been done simply to save space for the game as it was one of the earliest NES titles. Another thing that happens in newer Mario games is that if you get hit when you have a power-up, you go back to being Super Mario or Big Mario if you prefer. Not so in Super Mario Bros. If you get hit, you downgrade all the way to Little Mario. This can be quite frustrating at times. Especially if you had just gotten a Fire Flower and then proceed to get hit by an enemy almost immediately.

Speaking of being hit by enemies, the hit detection in the game can be suspect at times. In playing through the game again for this review, I had several instances where I got hit when I wasn’t even touching an enemy or projectile. There were other times when I was clearly touching an enemy and didn’t get hit at all. I guess if you consider both of those, it’s kind of a wash, but it’s still noticeable and if you get hit by something that clearly shouldn’t have counted as a hit, it can be pretty annoying. For example, I got hit by a hammer from a Hammer Bro when I was nowhere near the hammer.

Fortunately though, even if you do suffer some cheap deaths because of this, there is a built-in checkpoint system in SMB. Though this is not visually indicated, you just have to know where it is, or hope you pass it before you die. Later games in the Mario series have physical checkpoint markers and even give Mario a free Super Mushroom when passing by if he’s small.

There’s not a lot of item options in this, the original entry in the franchise. There’s no Cape Feather, Ice Flower, Hammer Suit, Super Leaf, P-Wing, etc. The only power-ups present in Super Mario Bros. are the Super Mushroom and the Fire Flower. One thing you might know from newer Mario games is that they tend to feature item storage. That’s not the case here. You get an item and that’s it. Say for example you’re already Fire Mario and get a Fire Flower? In newer games you’d get a second Fire Flower in storage, but not in SMB. You get the points for it and that’s all.

Some people might consider this a difficult game. I don’t think it’s that complicated. Even if you do game over, you can start from your current world by holding A while pressing Start. Otherwise you have to start over from the beginning of the game, there is no continue option by default. If you don’t know this ahead of time, this can be quite the unwelcome surprise, especially if you’re far into the game when you game over. But overall the game could stand to be more challenging. Once you know the enemy patterns and paths to take it’s a pretty simple game.

As for, the replay value? It’s lackluster at best, with pretty much your only challenges being trying to beat the game without dying and going for a high score, but this was a common concept in the early days of gaming. There doesn’t seem to be any real benefit to getting a high score that I can tell. I broke over 600,000 and didn’t get anything for that score. Some games would give you extra lives or continues or something like that for a high score. In SMB the only ways to earn extra lives are by getting 100 coins, 1-Up Mushrooms, or by hitting enough enemies in a row (either with a shell or while jumping without touching the ground).

Another thing I would’ve liked to have seen in the game would be two player simultaneous multiplayer. Instead, in SMB it’s alternating. All-in-all though, this is a classic game and an all-time great. A lot of what I said could be consider nit picking and admittedly these things are rather minor flaws. Overall it’s a pretty fun game and if by some chance you’ve never played it, you really should.

So what’s the verdict on Super Mario Bros.? Here’s our scoring breakdown.

Pros

  • The game is pretty fun despite some minor flaws.
  • It’s easy to pick up and play.
  • It has a pretty simple concept and control scheme.
  • The music in the game is iconic in gaming and quite memorable.

Cons

  • It would really be nice if some of the modern features of newer Mario games were present in this entry, but they are not.
  • The hit detection can be a bit off at times, leading to some cheap hits/deaths.
  • The Flying Cheep Cheep stages can be a bit irritating in this regard, especially when Koopa Troopas are added.
  • The game is pretty short and there’s little to no replay value.

Graphics

6/10 – Let’s be honest, Super Mario Bros. is not going to wow anyone with its graphical prowess. But that being said, it’s not a bad looking game by early NES standards. Sprites are relatively easy to distinguish and you rarely (if ever) lose track of your character’s positioning on the screen. Some sprites are reused multiple times (the bushes/clouds for example or Bowser), but that could’ve been due to space limitations.

Sound/Music

9/10 – How can you not love the classic SMB theme? It’s one of the most famous songs in video game history. It’s quite catchy and memorable and suits the game perfectly. Sound effects are spot on too, with the coin sound in particular being a classic favorite. In fact, some even use it as a notification sound on their cell phone these days.

Gameplay/Play Control

7/10 – The gameplay is not bad by any stretch, but it’s not something astonishing by modern standards. But you have to remember, this game was released over thirty years ago. That being said, the controls are pretty good for the most part, though there were times where I narrowly made or missed jumps. But I’m not sure if that was due to my positioning or the controls themselves.

Story

2/10 – There’s not much story present in the game itself, but that’s to be expected. This isn’t Final Fantasy or even Zelda. This is a platformer and you play these games for platforming action, not epic storylines. But this is the one that started it all in the Mario universe with Peach (then called Princess Toadstool) constantly getting kidnapped by Bowser.

Challenge

4/10 – The game isn’t that difficult overall. Sure, the hit detection can cause some cheap hits/deaths, and if you misplace or mistime your jumps it can result in some unfortunate deaths, but overall it’s not that complicated. Once you know where to go and how to defeat/avoid enemies, it’s pretty easy.

Replay Value

3/10 – The replay value in SMB is practically non-existent. High score? Okay, sure, if you’re into that. Other than that, you can try to make it through the whole game without dying or without getting any power-ups. There’s also a “Second Quest” of sorts which unlocks once you beat the game. This adds Buzzy Beetles in place of Goombas and enemies in general move much faster, but it’s basically the same as the “First Quest.”

Fun Factor

8/10 – SMB is pretty fun in general. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s definitely a game worth playing through if you never have. And it set the stage for dozens, if not hundreds of future games in the industry. Nintendo & the Mario franchise have been cited by multiple developers as inspirations in their work.

Overall Average

5.6/10

Final Overall

8/10 – I bumped up the score for Super Mario Bros. quite a bit because the story and replay value were lower scores but shouldn’t be weighted as highly for a game like this. SMB is all about the overall experience and gameplay and in that regard it generally succeeds. It’s a great game and you should definitely play it if you haven’t for some reason. The game is available on a variety of platforms and I’m sure whenever Nintendo decides to launch Virtual Console on Switch, it’ll be available there too.

Buy/Rent/Borrow/Pass?

Buy It!

Image: Wikipedia

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