bshirk's Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo Entertainment System) review

Still Great--Twenty Years Later

Mushrooms, plumbers, and goombas provided for a magical first experience with video games.  Regrettably, Mario wasn't my true first video game, but it's one of the first games that really resonated with me. Mario's side-scrolling adventure just felt so fresh, and the accurate controls made the portly plumber a dream to control.

 I'm pretty sure that I first beat Mario back when I was four or five, but I'm almost certain that I made use of the game's warp pipes.  For my most recent play-through, I decided to experience the entire adventure.  The gameplay was almost as great as I remembered--an amazing feat considering that over twenty years had passed. 

In Super Mario Bros., Mario controls beautifully, unlike many other games of the era, where characters often controlled like a wet spaghetti noodle.  I felt a deep connection with Mario--every move I made translated accurately on-screen.  If I wanted to alter the length of my jump mid-air, Mario would comply.  He was a bit floaty in comparison to later Mario games, but it didn't take long to get a-hang of the controls.

Super Mario Bros. has eight worlds of unique side-scrolling levels packed to the brim with goombas, piranha plants, lakitus, and koopa troopas.  Each world contains four levels of platforming mayhem.  The levels are filled with bricks than can be broken, and they contain numerous secrets.  By being creative, players can find hidden exits that will enable them to warp to different worlds.  Who wants to play the sissy way though and miss half the game?  I decided to play Reggie-style--by kicking ass and taking names.  I stomped every goomba, kicked koopas that got in my way, and brought death to aquatic creatures with my blazing fireballs.  Of course, I made sure to satisfy my appetite for 'shrooms.  I didn't-a-wanna-be-a-crazy, but I-a-needed them to-beat-a-Bowser.  Bowser decided to post-up at a castle every three levels, but I managed to outsmart that lazy koopa every time.  He would constantly breath fire, move towards me, and sometimes even throw hammers.  Each time, I simply had to use my jumping prowess to get around him and touch the axe that would send Bowser plunging into the flames below.  Then I would be greeted by Toad who would tell me, "Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!"  I had to go through this eight times before I finally found the princess.  Then, she had the nerve to tell me that this quest was only the beginning.

Like the original Legend of Zelda, the first Super Mario Bros. has a second quest.  In the second quest, the difficulty has been ramped-up, but it won't make a grown-man cry like The Lost Levels.  What has changed?  Well, the enemies are more plentiful, they're more aggressive, and the course layouts have received minor alterations.  Not much changed in the second quest, but it was a fun, albeit slightly more challenging Mario experience.

Super Mario Bros. also has some great tunes that you probably still hum to this day.  It seems like they're featured in every other Nintendo game, so that's no surprise.  But like the game's music, you don't want to forget about the sound effects.  Mario's jump has a very distinct sound that almost any human can recall in an instant.  Few games' sounds remain in our heads like those of our favorite mustachioed plumber.

Well, if you haven't been able to tell already, Super Mario Bros. is still a lot of fun.  It should come as no surprise that Nintendo is still milking the franchise with games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, because 2D Mario games are just so damn fun.  If you want a great pick-up-and-play game that even your significant other will enjoy, there's no harm in busting out Super Mario Bros.--but then again, you probably already know that.

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