Super Mario Bros. review
Sidescrolling 101


While Donkey Kong on the Atari 2600 shaped the stories of games to come, Super Mario Brothers wrote the blueprint to sidescrolling games to come for years to come, even today! More often than not, this is a gamers' first game (or at least one of their first) and it always leaves a good impression. Regardless, everyone would've played it at least once in their lives. This review just serves the purpose of giving you one man's opinion; everyone knows and most likely has played this game.

Story: The Mushroom Kingdom used to be calm and prosperous until King Koopa (Bowser) kidnapped Princess Toadstall (Peach). It's up to the Italian plumber in red, Mario, to save the princess from the evil king himself. It's a simple story of good vs evil and the valiant hero rescuing the princess, but you have to take into consideration that this is an early NES game, so plotlines didn't really matter (well, except to influence later 8-bit and 16-bit games), but regardless, it kicked ass and still does today!

Gameplay: As the title of the review implies, it's sidescrolling 101. Basically, if you play any NES game and start thinking "where did they get the idea for this", look no further than this. Gone are the different screens for different parts of different levels; now everything scrolls with the character if they get far enough in that direction. But that's not the only thing Super Mario Brothers did. It did much more, don't you worry readers...

For one, Super Mario Brothers has you running and jumping across plains and platforms in order to get to your next destination. There are many obstacles between you and your goal, such as enemies, cannons, pits, blocks, fireballs and more enemies, though with your wit, timing, ass and skill, you can overcome these obstacles with no problems.

On your travels, you'll run into power-ups in blocks with a question mark glowing in the air. In this title, there are two, and you must get one before you can get the other by bonking your head on the block. The first is a red mushroom and it makes Mario taller and more durable. The second and final is a flower which lets Mario shoot fireballs, but should Mario be hit while under the influence of flowers or shrooms, he will grow back to normal size again.

Fire Mario is ultimately much better; though he is no more durable than Big Mario as he reverts to regular Mario after being hit, he is still more powerful, though offensively. Both of them can break non-power-up blocks and can take an extra hit, but is there anything special about regular Mario?

Apart from being smaller therefore able to fit in small places, regular Mario is not all that good and actually quite risky to stay playing as. Anything that touches him that's threatening will kill him, thus making the player lose a life. If you lose all your lives, that's it, game over! I mean, you can get extra lives by collecting a hundred coins (which you find either laying all around the place or in question marked boxes) or green mushrooms.

But there is one final power-up - the star! You know, a staple of the Mario series just like the plot! When you collect a star from a random block, you can temporarily gain some invincibility and pwn some enemies! Of course, it's only temporary, so make the best use of your time invincible.

In total, there are eight levels, and each of these eight levels have four different parts. Part one and three are usually outdoor-sey types of levels with a fair amount of platforms (with part three usually carrying more platforms than the first part), while part two is either a sewer, underwater or more outdoors. The sewers are essentially like the outdoors, but with a ceiling and darker color schemes, though they play more or less the same. However, underwater is a bit different, as you have to keep yourself a bit afloat and maneuvering yourself so you don't hit any obstacles. It's something different and these levels often provide a bit of a challenge, especially three of the castles when they throw a curve ball your way that'll really take you by surprise.

The fourth part of every level is Koopa's castle, and there are lava pits, fireballs, spitfires and lines of fire, as well as King Koopa himself at the end. Oh noez how do I defeat him? The axe behind him, that's how! Jump past Koopa while avoiding his attacks (whether it's fireballs or hammers) and jump on the axe, praying you don't cut Mario's dick off in the process and the bridge will fall, killing King Koopa...for now. The first seven levels present some midget with a mushroom head known as a Toad at the end telling you the princess is in another castle, and of course, level eight has the princess herself, as well as a hard mode. Sweet!

This game has a degree of challenge not only in the fact that you only have one continue, but also the last level. All parts of level eight are quite tricky and King Koopa is a prick here, and the hard mode you get after beating the game can be fairly harsh, though like any good game, the game starts off easy enough and gets harder as you progress, especially when the Hammer Bros are introduced and the platforms get trickier to jump.

The gameplay is simplistic in execution, but a stroke of genius when you actually get around to play it! That, and when you're playing it!

Controls: Yet another area in which this game excels when compared to the masses of Atari 2600 and even more ancient NES games, hell maybe the entire NES library! The game controls very well and responds when it needs to, as well as being so easy to figure out that an idiot could learn to play it, let alone a somewhat experienced player. There's the usual jump, run/fireball and pause buttons that become a staple for the NES and SNES titles (barring Super Mario Brothers 2 [US], Super Mario Kart, Super Mario RPG and Super Mario World 2). Just plain awesome.

Graphics: The graphics are good, but not great. The technicality of it all is great, that can be established. The animation is smooth, the amount of detail is quite astounding for an early NES title and...I can go on all day about how it technically looks. The only real problem would be the colors - they're kind of bland. Just somewhat bland, not completely. Other than that, quite good.

Audio: Now this is perfect. 8-bit perfect! The soundtrack is presented quite nicely and also quite catchy. This is, basically, THE 8-bit soundtrack to end all 8-bit soundtracks. This is the second best soundtrack that you'll ever hear on the NES (with the first best being Journey To Silius, though that one's rare and I'm surprised I own that game, so the best most gamers would've heard is this). You don't need to wonder why there's craploads of remixes of this soundtrack. 99% of other soundtracks tremble in fear basically. Oh, and the sound effects are cool too.

Replay Value: There is some semblance of replay value, but that's usually because you want to tackle the harder mode, plus this game is well worth playing again just to better yourself at it, and maybe (just maybe) expose some glitches for yourself.

Overall: Super Mario Brothers is one of the better games to grace the NES, and a great way to kick off the sidescrolling style of games. It's no wonder why they call this sidescrolling 101, because it introduces styles that future titles built upon until 3D graphics come into full swing. Titles like Contra, Mega Man, Metroid and Kid Icarus are influential in their own right, but remember that Super Mario Brothers is the true influence to their basic blueprints. Never forget this.

Story: 5/5
Gameplay: 15/15
Controls: 10/10
Graphics: 4/5
Audio: 5/5
Replay Value: 7/10
Total: 46/50

My verdict - Buy!

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