Super Mario Bros.
Surprisingly addictive, yet not without its flaws.
Feb 10, 2005
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I just recently came into owning a Nintendo system. Of course, I wasn't a stranger to the likes of Mario and his endeavours in the Mushroom Kingdom, especially not his first. But playing the game now is definitely different from when I played it back at the age of 5. Maybe I just got worse at video games, because it all seemed much easier back then. Or at least, I had less difficulty with things like the Hammer Brother when I was a toddler. I was fully able to just stop, and carefully research their movement pattern, something I had to really torture myself to do now. Now I'm more prone to just run through the level, catching a couple of coins on the way and ending it in a splendid 5000 point flag jump. Unless, of course, I happened to graze my thigh on a Koopa Trooper, who happened to be in the way of my speed run. However, at a younger age I had much more difficulty with all the jumping. I kept falling into the bottomless pits and I almost never got the high flag at the end. So, in the games favour, it has definitely not lost any of its charm in the difficulty department. And, with higher difficulty, comes the inevitable addiction. I set myself a goal when I got my Nintendo. I was going to finish Super Mario Bros., at least once, without using any of the Warp Pipes. And finish it, I did. But not before pulling out every last strand of hair on my head. I can't even count the number of times I had to start it all over again. And when I finally got to the last castle, and then lost all my lives, I decided it was time to start warping. I justified it with the fact that I'd seen every level the game had to offer. And that's probably more than some people can boast themselves about. The enemies, although simple, are all wonderfully designed. They're entirely witless, presenting you with easy targets most of the time, but each and everyone of them is bound to charm you, at least once. Take, for example, Bullet Bill's endless devotion to staying on track, for what seems like nothing, as he can actually follow you throughout the whole level. If you run slow enough. The music, unlike some of the Nintendo Entertainment System's music, never gets on your nerves. It doesn't have a lot of variety, but it doesn't hurt it either. You grow to love these wonderful tunes for their simplicity. Some of the level design is also pretty great, though not its strongest property. The last four levels, namely the eighth world, were nothing short of awesome.
The fact that they reuse a lot of the first levels when you get to the sixth and seventh world really bothers me. There's really a lot of potential in a simple game like this, to make something new in each world. So, huge disappointment there, when I finally get to the seventh world, and I'm presented with an old level with slightly smaller moving platforms. And the level design also falters when they introduce the trick castles, where you have to manoeuvre through what seems to be a very simple level, but you have to take exactly the right route to actually advance in the level. It's neat in concept, but it gets really frustrating when the paths start getting more complex. Maybe someone liked this, but I don't really like trial-and-error that much. Maybe giving you a small hint, as to where you were supposed to go, would've helped. Lack of variety in bosses at the end of each castle was something that annoyed me somewhat, especially in the beginning. But they finally picked up on that in the sixth world, where Bowser, or one of his decoys, whatever, finally receives a hammer.
The Bottom Line
Definitely the same stallion it was years ago, and it's very clear why it spawned this seemingly unstoppable franchise. However, it must be said that it doesn't really offer a lot of variety through its eight worlds, in its levels. It delivers on the enemy front, with a new enemy in almost every world. But the levels start to really grain on you after a while. It's a great romp down memory lane, and a great reminded that complex gameplay isn't really that necessary.
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