Super Mario All Stars

Developer: Nintendo
Platform: SNES, Wii
Released: Dec 1993, Dec 2010

What can I say about one of the greatest game compilations of all time that hasn’t been said already?…..Super Mario is actually a drug dealer! Oh wait…

I foolishly thought I’d write one more review before settling down for the evening, but holy hell, didn’t I underestimate this one?! Where to begin… All right let’s get the basics out-of-the-way anyway.

The set up:
Back in 1993, Nintendo decided to release a SNES game containing enhanced versions of their first three incredibly popular Super Mario Bros. games, as well as Super Mario Bros.: Lost Levels, which, until then, was never released outside of Japan. And in 2010, they decided to do the exact same thing again in order to celebrate Mario’s 25th Anniversary. This might seem like a bit of a cheap move on Nintendo’s part, as they surely could have squeezed Super Mario World and Super Mario 64 into the package to make one of the greatest game collections in the history of gaming. However, despite this unfortunate exclusion, what you are getting here are  still four of the greatest games of all time. Of ALL TIME!

Super Mario Bros. (The Classic):
The simplest games are so very often the best. Few people could resist playing Pac-Man when Google altered their logo to make it an unorthodox level for the yellow circular glutton. And the same is surely true for the first Mario game. The gameplay is so simple, yet so enjoyable, it is truly timeless and is surely going to continue entertaining gamers for years to come. Incidentally, a major factor in this incessantly enjoyable gameplay is actually the physics of the game. Super Mario Bros. was one of the first games to have a character run and jump believably (making his original name when he first appeared in Donkey Kong, Jumpman, strangely apt, if not ridiculously stupid). The quest is simple, save the princess from the bad guy, a giant lizard thing which was probably hugely original at the time. And what surely aids the entire experience (and is a massive staple of later Mario games), is the bizarre locations and absurdly catchy tunes which accompany them.

Super Mario Bros. 2 (The Oddball):
If you have played a number of Mario games before, but never Super Mario Bros. 2, you would be in for one hell of a shock. A huge deviation from the original formula, SMB. 2 is best described as simply weird. It’s still massively entertaining though, allowing the player to play as not just the two Mario Bros., but as Toad and Princess Toadstool also, each with unique abilities. The game becomes more ambitious also, allowing you to go not just left and right, but up and down as well. Coupled with a strange preoccupation with throwing turnips and the introduction of the enemy Birdo, possibly the weirdest character design of all time, SMB. 2 plays more like a dream Mario is having rather than a Mario game at all.

Super Mario Bros. 3 (The One Everybody Loves):
How do you improve on a game like SMB.? By making everything, and I mean everything, bigger and better! SMB. 3 remains to this day one of the greatest platformers of all time. It is casually regarded as THE greatest NES game/ THE greatest 2D platforming game of all time and for good reason. There is so much here to enjoy. Eight massively distinctive worlds, all with multiple routes through them. Up to nine power-up items, far surpassing the three from the original. Far more enemies than ever before, including 8 separate bosses for each world. And to top it all off, you can play in multiplayer. Not just in racing to get to the princess, but also in challenging your opponent in a quick one-on-one death match, in order to gain the upper hand in the race.
(Challenging your opponent while he passes over your location with his guard down still remains one of the sneakiest and dirtiest tricks in the book to this day)

Super Mario Bros.: Lost Levels (The Classic On Steroids):
Originally marketed as Super Mario Bros. 2, Lost Levels was quickly deemed far too difficult for Western audiences and so was never released outside of Japan on the NES. However, it is included on All Stars as an added treat. They may really have been onto something with this “too hard” business. Gameplay is more or less identical to that of the original. With one minor difference. Just about every single level is not only going to annihilate you, it’s also going to urinate on your post box, take your girlfriend out for a fun evening and then never call her again. It’s THAT hard. Where once there were five block long platforms, there is now one single block suspended over a pit of fire and death. Where once you had two goomba’s walking casually towards you, now there is the Third Reich, made up of flying turtles. And where once there were mushrooms, now there is poisonous mushrooms, in a particularly evil twist. Everything is amped up to challenge you that much further, and although it is still fun, it is very very punishing fun.

So there it is, one of the greatest gaming collections of all time. The graphics are simple, but flawless in their simplicity. Character and enemy designs make everything a joy to behold. The music is ludicrously catchy (and the Wii version includes a CD with all the best tracks on it, something to bear in mind). And the gameplay speaks for itself, these are games still being played to death years after their release. If you consider yourself a gamer and you’ve actually never played these games, then you owe it to yourself. Get the hell out of here and buy it right now!

Awful Rating: 10/10 (or if you’re playing the wii, and you feel it’s a bit of a cop out, 9/10)

Thank you Mario! But our Princess is in another Castle!” – Toad

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • SMB.3 was the first console game I can actively remember playing, at 4 years old. Actually, this is a lie. It’s the first console game I can actively remember enjoying. If I recall correctly, I was at my cousin’s house and it was here I saw a NES for the first time. SMB.3 was lying on the floor beside it. And in it was some sort of weird crappy astronaut game. I couldn’t figure out how to get the damn game out so I played it for about fifteen minutes. It was terrible. I kept getting killed by some guy with scissors for arms. I just wanted to play mario! I was a gamer and I knew instinctively it was going to be amazing! My aunt eventually came in and showed me how to change the games after I had stomped on the bottom of her curtains.
  • I distinctly remember getting really far in SMB.2 for the first time, when my brother, with his twisted sense of humour, told me that “if you jump in the quicksand, you get an extra life!” Looking back, I shouldn’t have been so gullible. But the expression on his face when he realised there actually WAS a secret room down there will stay with me always.
  • I will always associate SMB.3 with the movie Gremlins 2, because I remember playing it for hours one night and then watching Gremlins at what I thought was a really late hour (9:30).

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