Super Mario Brothers - Great Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Video Games
A True Classic
Super Mario Brothers sure is an interesting game to talk about. This is basically the first Mario game that most people fell in love with, and it sure did stand out from the crowd during its heyday. I started playing Nintendo before Super Mario Brothers 2 came out, and so there was no Super Mario 3 to compare this game to. In short, Super Mario Brothers was the perfect video game back then. It basically had everything necessary for a winning game: an insane world, an interesting main character, a simple but compelling story line, tight controls, good music, and enough levels to keep it challenging.
If you compare this game to the stuff that came shortly before it on Atari, it's obvious how Nintendo made leaps and bounds over the games from the Atari 2600. Space Invaders was a fun way to spend 30 minutes, but Super Mario Bros. was a game that seemed fresh and new in comparison to those old Atari offerings..
I wasn’t the only one in my house to fall in love with Super Mario Brothers – my mom also began to play the game! She almost beat the game once, too. She would play that game all night long, and it was the only Nintendo game she ever got into. Well, she also enjoyed playing Super Mario Land on the Gameboy. I think I’ll talk about Super Mario Land some other time, though.
It's the Mario Plush! Yes! Keep Him By Your Side as You Sleep.
The original Mario side scroller was pretty bizarre, you have to admit. It sure was unique, though. Nowadays, gamers take the whole Mario universe for granted, but back then the concept was pretty gutsy for Nintendo to rest their new system on. After all, Nintendo was trying to revitalize the American video gaming market after the video game crash of 1983. Was it really wise to bet on a plumber who runs through worlds of turtles, mushrooms, bricks, and dudes who throw hammers? I guess it was, because Nintendo’s fame took off in lock step with the Mario franchise. Who could have predicted such a thing?
Did Nintendo know that Mario would become such a huge hit? It isn’t certain. It became the best selling game for more than three decades after its release, though. I loved it, and everyone I knew loved it. There really was no game to compare it to at the time. Heck, what would you compare Mario and the Mario universe to even today? It’s unique, fun, and fresh – and remains so almost 30 years later.
Was Super Mario Bros. Your Favorite Childhood Video Game?
Not Everything Was Perfect
The game did have its shortcomings, though. It got boring having to play through the same boring old level designs over and over and over again while trying to finally beat it. Sure, the first level is a blast during the initial week or two – but it gets old pretty fast when you’re playing to win. Super Mario Brothers 3 solved that problem by providing a world map and making the game levels non-linear in progression. So, it’s pretty obvious that the straight forward level 1, 2, 3, etc. approach was a detriment to the franchise. The game still managed to win everyone’s heart over, though.
Another sour point with the game is the visual level design in general. There are a few interesting levels in there, such as the treetop ones, and the level where you are avoiding fish on a bridge. Still, for the most part, it seems like they rehashed level 1-1 and the sewer level 1-2 as many times as possible. Also, the ending stages inside the castles really get old fast.
Super Mario Bros. Gameplay
Bowser Plush! He's So Cool!
The Visual Design
Notice how particularly repetitive the levels are if you haven't played this game in a while. They sneak in new background details like trees, fences, and clouds, but the general look and feel of the game is like level 1-1 over and over and over. That is one of the few detriments that this game has. if you look at Mario 3, they took notice of this. Mario 3 has lots of very different environments, such as desert, sky clouds, and green fields.
Adding the warp zones was interesting, but the warp zones make the game too easy and quick to beat. It’s far too tempting to use that level 1-2 warp zone.
By the by, what little kid didn’t think it was hilariously genius to see Mario running on top of the level over the score bar? Nintendo really knew how to make a game unconventional. But with their unconventional vision for Super Mario Brothers, the unconventional eventually became conventional.
Goomba Plush! Sleep With Your Favorite Cute Little Enemy in the Mushroom Kingdom!
The original Super Mario Brothers 2 was really an almost identical game released in Japan. They released it here on the SNES in “Mario Allstars” as “The Lost Levels.” They should have told people at the time that it was the actual Mario Brothers 2 that had been released in Japan. Anyway, that actual version of Mario Brothers 2 is said to be rather hard, and way too identical to the original. It’s like they weren’t even trying.
The actual Mario Bros. 2 was never released in the United States.
Nintendo released Mario Brothers 2 in the US as nothing more than a sprite swapped version of a Japanese game called “Doki Doki Panic.” That was a smart move on Nintendo’s part, though. I ended up wanting Mario Brothers 2 more than anything else in the entire world when it came out. It totally blew my mind when I played it at a friend’s house that Christmas.
A lot of people talk about how Mario looks very communist in the original game. First of all, he looks like Stalin (the Soviet dictator). He wears communist red colors. He tears down a peace symbol flag and raises a communist star flag. What the heck, Nintendo? That’s some weird stuff going on there.
When I was a kid, I always thought that peace sign on the flag was some kind of green alien. C’mon! It totally looks like a weird, green alien. I wonder why I never bothered to think about what that was, and what it meant. Tearing down peace? I guess Nintendo just wanted it to be a semi-subliminal message. All we cared about was beating the level, not what beating the level really meant, or what it stood for.
So that’s one of the great Nintendo Entertainment System classics – Super Mario Brothers. It’s whacky and fun, that’s for sure. The few shortcomings that it had didn’t seem to matter. It was a bit of a primitive game, all things considered, and there were many sidescrollers that were similarly good. But Mario was one of the first on the new NES system. It had the tight controls that many other sidescrollers seemed to lack, too. How come Nintendo didn’t at least tell those other developers how to program jumping and running properly? Every game could have felt more like Super Mario Brothers, and that would have been a good thing for Nintendo.
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