This Wasn't in My Job Description: A Review of Super Mario Bros.
Well, here it is. One of the best-selling, most easily recognizable games of all time: Super Mario Bros.
Loosely based on "Donkey Kong," this was the first game that gave our overweight Italian friend his independent shove toward mainstream stardom, as well as an official name: Mario. Countless sales, sequels, and photo shoots later, it's no wonder he's addicted to shrooms.
Let's dawn our overalls and shoot some fireballs, 'cause boys and girls, review time calls.
This is just one of those games that you love, regardless if you know the story or not. This is probably a good thing, as the first few times I played it, I had no idea there was even a story involved in the game. Apparently, though, Bowser (then known as King Koopa) - an ugly, overweight punk rock turtle - has captured Princess Toadstool and turned all the subservients in the Mushroom Kingdom into some pretty cooky creatures: walking mushrooms, turtles, flying turtles, flying fish - if it's in a drughead's dream, it's here. It's now Mario's job to rescue said princess and return her to to safety. This wasn't in my job description!
GRAPHICS / DESIGN 4/5
Mario is instantly recognizable with his overalls, cap, and ever-famous moustache - we can all agree there, and surprisingly enough, this game goes a great job of showing the audience who they are controlling. He and his brother Luigi are designed simplistically, yet even today this does not bother us in the least. True vintage design as the 'Bros venture through the crazy Mushroom Kingdom, bouncing on turtles, Goombas, and many other enemies that would carry over into the endless sequels that follow.
Yes, friends, this is where it all started. From the grassy hills to the almost-alive clouds, from teleporting through pipes in the overworld to the depths of the sewers, this game took a very simple concept and made it something much more. With next to no dialogue, this game succeeds in reaching out to it's audience and engulfing them into a world of chaos and disorder filled with traps, baddies, and powerups; this holds solid today as I often sit down and run through the game from start to finish.
Timeless. I don't need to sit here and talk up the OST for the original Super Mario Bros, as everyone who has played it even for three minutes in their lives is stuck with the first song they hear in this game: the Overworld Theme - which is, in my opinion, the greatest video game anthem the NES would ever see (sorry Dr. Wily, your castle's theme in Mega Man 2 still runs a close second, though...).
Upon jogging from the Overworld to the Sewers, though, we are treated to an entirely different tone: a bit darker, sure, but still very melodic and catchy. Upon entering one of King Koopa's many fortresses, our ears pick up a tune that pumps up the adrenaline as you make your way through rotating fire sticks, jumping to avoid the King's fire breath.
Who can forget touching a Starman and hearing the quick but catchy tune of your new invulnerable power? Or how about we take a trip underwater and hear the "bouncy" theme of the seaside as we swim through a world of underwater enemies?
Every line of melody in this game is spot-on and for sure timeless classics. Though I'm sure the number of tracks in this soundtrack only spouts maybe five or six, it's quality over quantity in this classic.
GAMEPLAY / CONTROL 5/5
Again, very simple, but it does it's part. From the pressurized jumps depending on how hard you hit your button to holding the "fire" button to run faster, this game does it's part in what it's worth.
Jumping on the heads of Goombas brought infinite joy in our younger selves as we made our way through the corrupt Kingdom, finding out where the hidden blocks were, making available areas that were otherwise unaccessable, or even shouting "HEY MOM, CHECK THIS OUT!" Yeah, a smile grew on your face when you read that one? Me too.
Who could forget your first Fire Flower, and downing countless enemies with your fireballs while you raced through the levels, beating the clock at all costs. Joy reigned surpreme as you were untouchable after you found your first Starman and accidently bumped into an enemy, only to find it couldn't hurt you, or even pressing your luck to get in that last kill before your power ran out.
After you took a dive into the waters below, though, things took a sudden change: you were forced to swim your way through your first underwater level, negating your jumping skills and putting forth your skills of manueverability as you attempted to make it to that green staircase to earn the right to be freed from the world of underwater torture.
Yep, from hitting your head on the now-popular "question mark boxes" to climbing the vine to the warp world, this game chocked us full of memories that we would never forget, and gameplay we would constantly compare every other game we played to.
Playing with a friend was even that much better, sitting around hoping they would die so you could show them up. "Check THIS out," you would say, as you exposed the secret of the warp world in 1-2.
While it's missing a few elements that would later be improved upon (such as a level diagram, straightforward option to skip levels, so on and so forth) this game kept us occupied for hours on end as we would join our friends in the adventure to rescue the princess and save the day. Swapping secrets, exposing hidden areas, and even being king of the playground as the only one who could exploit the "turtle on the stairs gives you infinite lives" trick.
I don't know about you, fellow gamers, but this was the game that got me started on my addiction. With Final Fantasy being the first game I ever touched, I had no interest in playing. After picking up Super Mario Bros / Duck Hunt / World Track Meet for the first time, though, I had found my new favourite passtime, and it dwelled within my NES. The world of fantasy and adventure captivated me for years to come, expanding from the world of the Mushroom Kingdom to that of the futuristic approach of Mega Man, even to the dream world of Kirby.
And it's all thanks to an overweight, drug-addicted Italian plumber: the exact type of person my parents always told me to stay away from. Go figure.