Super Mario Bros. Deluxe – Game Boy Color
Platform: Game Boy Color
Release Date (NA): May 10th, 1999
Nerd Rating: 8.5 out of 10
On the surface, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe may seem like nothing more than a 15-year-old game ported to a newer, handheld system. That’s all I’d really thought of it for quite some time, and it wasn’t until I started playing it that I realized how much this title has to offer. Ostensibly Super Mario Bros. Deluxe allows players a chance to relive one of the most popular video games of all time and introduces new players to the title, but there’s actually a good deal of other game modes and features that push this gem far beyond “remake” status.
Let’s start with the obvious. We get a very faithful adaptation of the original, and though it looks a little cramped and less vivid on the GBC screen, it’s still the game that most of us remember and love. Warp zones, 1-ups, and everything else is intact. Water and lava have small animations added, but otherwise we have basically the same game. With the screen on the GBC being smaller, less of the level is in view at a time. The player can press Up or Down to get a better view though at times this feature almost gets in the way of regular gameplay. Instead of walking solely to the right, Mario can move back to the left just a tad. An overworld map has been added in the style of Super Mario World where the player can toggle between playing as Mario or Luigi using the Select button.
This time around, Mario begins each level with 5 lives, and rather than a hard “Game Over,” Super Mario Bros. Deluxe gives the player the option to continue at the beginning of the stage where Mario. It can be a little misleading when clicking “No” to the game’s question of “Continue?” but really this only signals an end to a player’s session and the next screen asks if the player wants to save. Three save files are included, and combined with the ability to continue, ensures that everyone has a fighting chance at beating the game.
So what’s new in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe? Several things! From the get-go a couple of different modes are available and more can be unlocked through further gameplay.
First up is “Challenge.” In this spin on the classic, players run through the same levels they’re used to but with the added goal of 1) collecting 5 red coins, 2) achieving a ridiculously high score, and 3) finding the Yoshi egg. Typically at least one coin and the egg are hidden very well or in difficult to reach places making Mario do things that were never quite required of him in the original. Searching the stages is fun for those who already know them inside out and adds an increased sense of novelty to the all too familiar world of Super Mario Bros. Scoring highly on the other hand, is a tough process. Making the most of power-ups, jumping and turtle shell combos, and high flagpole landings are a good start but a fair number of points are awarded for leftover time. Both speed and collecting the important stuff are to be considered and it ain’t easy. Luckily the player can replay these challenges over and over and all three need not be completed in one run.
There is a multiplayer mode, and while I have an adequate number of GBC’s and GBA’s to dig in, 2 cartridges are also required. On a day where I can’t find anything particularly interesting to buy I may pick up another one and update this section accordingly.
By clicking on Luigi’s head on the main menu screen, another mode can be accessed. Officially titled “Super Mario Bros. For Super Players,” this mode consists of a series of levels based upon the original, Japanese release of Super Mario Bros. 2 which would later show up in North America on the SNES cart Super Mario All-Stars under the title Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. If you’ve ever played Lost Levels, you know how difficult these stages are, and those included in “For Super Players” are just as maddeningly frustrating. Like Lost Levels, the player is treated to the same general SMB aesthetic but with all new level design. A full set of 8 worlds with 4 levels in each is available with the same ability to save and continue as the main game.
Moving on to the Boo icon on the main menu, this brings the player to a set of levels where Mario must race to the end ahead of a Boo. It might sound easy, but the levels have been altered in various ways, the most notable of which uses new blocks that, when hit, toggle the existence of other blocks arranged as obstacles. In many cases, Mario must “turn off” the blocks to advance. The time limit is short, and in some areas it’s difficult to avoid hitting a block for the second time thus “turning on” the obstructions once again. Even in early areas, it’s damn near impossible to beat the Boo to the finish but it is fun to try and once again, breathes new life into the familiar context of Super Mario Bros.
Down at the bottom we have a few more extra goodies that Nintendo thought to throw in: Records, Album, and Toy Box. Records are self-explanatory, but the Album and Toy Box focus mainly on using the Game Boy Printer. As soon as I have one, I fully intend to explore the oddities in these areas that I can’t yet make complete sense of. Within the Toy Box is an interesting tool for assisting one in finding the Yoshi eggs; with the press of a button, a random level is selected and a screen shot of where the egg can be found is shown. Although cool, it doesn’t do much to help if you’re stuck on a particular level. I suppose the idea is to then select that level to search for the egg in.
Super Mario Bros. Deluxe is widely considered one of the pinnacles of achievement on the Game Boy Color and I’m in full agreement. The graphics may not be updated, the music is still the same, but for fans of the original, there is a lot to explore. Newcomers to the series or those not accustomed to the simplistic nature of the classic may not be as enamored, but that’s really the only aspect holding this title back. For those who’ve played the original Super Mario Bros. over and over again and cried “more, more, more!” at its conclusion, this is the game to check out. With the ability of the Game Boy Player to display SMB Deluxe on the big screen via Nintendo’s GameCube, there’s no excuse to pass over this one, even if you do hate spending prolonged periods buried in tiny handhelds.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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