When it came to tackling super Mario All Stars, I had a choice: review each game one by one, or review it all together. Obviously reading this you can guess the answer (if not look at the title). Super Mario Brothers is the game that made console platforming. We wouldn’t have any of the classic platforming games of the 90s and beyond without it. We might not even have video games as we recognize them without it, so it’s time to tackle this most classic of games.
What to say about the game, you play a plumber running through a magical land to save a princess from video gaming’s best dad Bowser who has turned the inhabitants into blocks (oh yes, those blocks you were bashing THEY WERE PEOPLE!). So you jump on enemies (unless they have spikes), bash blocks (WHICH ARE PEOPLE!), pick up mushrooms, flowers and other power ups, leap over pits to get to the end of the level. Then do it 31 more times. Every 4th level has a castle which you are led to believe is your fight against Bowser. Run under him, grab the axe, let him fall to a horrible burning death in the lava, then be told the princess is in a different castle (yeah everyone hates Toad for that). Fortunately this was the Mario All Stars version where they let the toads do amusing little things to entertain you.
Yeah that’s about it, rather simple really. The levels come in about 5 different forms: your standard run on the ground level, an underground level, one in the sky, one underwater (which is usually the most hated level) and the castle level. Power ups are simple as well: red mushroom to make Mario larger, able to take a hit and smash blocks, fire flower to fire… well fire, invincibility star and green mushroom for an extra life.
It’s one of those games that is easy to learn, but can be a challenge to master. What do I mean by that? This game basically invented speed running. Running through a game as fast as possible and trying to complete it to have the fastest time (which actually gave rise to Sonic the Hedgehog, yeah, it did). This is ALWAYS achieved by using the warp zones, some levels have a secret exit that will warp you to another world, meaning it’s quite possible to go though the game where the final castle is your only castle and you got there in less than half an hour… probably less, still need to beat the last world in full though and it throws a lot at you.
Now to talk about the Japanese only Mario Bros 2 or as it became known in the West as ‘The Lost Levels’. It’s basically just a harder expansion to the original game, throws in more difficult levels and can get infuriating at times. There’s an argument about whether this or the American Mario Brothers 2 is the true Mario Brothers 2, and I consider this more of a expansion than a real Mario Brothers 2. Besides that one introduced some true staples to the franchise – this just gave us poison mushrooms.
I can recommend Mario Brothers, unlike the original Zelda it’s a lot more welcoming, and since you can potentially run through it in half an hour everyone has ways to play it. Of course it’s very basic but then the first in the franchise usually would be (yes I know Mario appeared in Donkey Kong but this is the first of his platforming games). Future games would expand on what this game built and made some of the best games of all time, but it doesn’t hurt to have some fun looking at where it started… at no point did I have to look online to find stuff.