There is quite a bit that can be said about Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System. For many gamers my age, Super Mario Bros. is one of their first and most fond gaming memories, and for good reason: It is the game responsible for selling the NES in the American market following the game crash of 1983-1984, and set the standard for what a platforming game should be from then on.
Let’s go back just a bit though, and look at the game for what it is. If you put it in, and play it, what would it be like for you?
First things first, the basic plot and gameplay: You are Mario (or Luigi for player 2) on a mission to save Princess Toadstool from Bowser, king of the Koopa’s. Simple. You run from left to right through 32 levels of enemies, jumps, pitfalls, power ups, platforms, springs, and more.
Really due to our familiarity with the game, in retrospect we think of the game as incredibly simple, and basic, and while it is at it’s core simple, Super Mario Bros. can get incredibly complex within it’s own deceptively simple rules. Levels that start as simple jumps and easy enemy batches quickly change into very precision heavy platforming, complicated enemy patterns (especially with the most dangerous enemies in the game, the Hammer Brothers) and with the very strict damage rules (1 hit deaths, with a bonus hit if you have the mushroom or fire flower powerups) can make the game much harder than people give it credit for, and if you avoid the warp zones and level skips in the game, it can take a good bit of time to pass through.
That all being said, let’s break it down and get to the final verdict.
Super Mario Bros. has somewhat simple graphic design, but the game has a very strong, very crisp appearance that looks good, with everything well defined and uniquely styled and colored for easy identification. You know what everything is, and the game takes advantage of its art style to create a unique gaming world to enjoy.
The game has instantly recognizable music and sound effects. The compositions makes good use of the NES sound processor, and while not incredibly complex, they do set the mood of the mushroom kingdom well.
Gameplay and Controls:
Super Mario Bros. has the definitive platformer control scheme for NES era and later games. Once you get the feel of what you can do in the game (the differences in running jump vs standing jumps, running over gaps, and just barely jumping over Piranha Plants) you will feel confident in everything you attempt in the game, leaving your skills versus the level design, or enemy patterns. The game is, quite simply, fun to play, like it should be. Diverse levels constantly bring new challenges, and by the time you make it to world 8, you will be ready for most anything the game has to throw at you.
Final Score: 4.0 / 5
I would say Super Mario Bros. is a must have game. While not perfect, it is quite enjoyable, especially for the early NES time period it is from. While certainly succeed by Super Mario Bros. 3, the original release is still quite a fun game to play, especially when taken for what it is.