Super Mario All-Stars – Super Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: August 1, 1993
Nerd Rating: 8.5/10
Reviewed by Paladin
How does one get away with reviewing four games in just one article? Also, considering that three of those four have already been looked at extensively, how does one claim that theirs is an original review?
Super Mario All-Stars! BAM!
This is not a game at all, but is instead four older games wrapped into one and given the exclusive (for the time) 16-bit upgrade, making it one of the earliest compilation titles for any console. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario Bros. 3 were three incredible games for the Nintendo Entertainment System that revolutionized the video game industry and made Super Mario the most popular, iconic, and profitable video game character of all time (a distinction he still holds to this day). The debut of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 gave us Super Mario World, another massive hit that only added fuel to the fire.
Nintendo couldn’t make these games fast enough. To tide people over, they decided to re-release Mario’s three biggest games just one generation later, this time with the updated music, visual and sound quality that the SNES had so famously introduced. There was one more notable addition to All-Stars: that of Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels, a fourth game that hadn’t been seen to that point…Or had it? More on that later.
By today’s standards, this may not seem like a big deal. In essence, All-Stars is nothing more that four games with updated graphics. There are no new stages, no new features, no hidden characters, just the exact same games on a new console. Except it wasn’t the same at all. Try to place yourself in 1993. The first three Super Mario Bros. were the standard to which all other games were being compared and to have all three of them on one cartridge with twice as many bits (haha, bits…) was mind blowing at the time.
Finally, the levels could come alive just as they always had in our imaginations. Grass no longer looked like a long green blotch, surfaces had definition and shading and depth, it was the perfect way to pave the road to the future. The developers did an excellent job of adapting these games to a Super Nintendo controller. The extra buttons don’t get in the way at all, making for a seamless technical transition. Perhaps the most welcome feature is that of a save file. Yes! We no longer have to worry about our NES messing up at the last second during a seven world run of Mario 3! We can take a break after the difficulty of Mario 1 begins to wear on us. It’s a no brainer: if you like the first three Mario games, you’ll love All-Stars. Everything you enjoyed about them is right here.
But let’s address the elephant in the room; I’m talking about both versions of Super Mario Bros. 2 that come with this game.
Huh? What does that even mean?
It means that Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels is actually the original sequel to Super Mario Bros. that was released for the NES in Japan in 1986. It’s the real Mario 2. Nintendo was afraid that this game was too similar to the original and that western audiences wouldn’t take to it. Oh yeah, they also thought that the difficulty level may have been so astronomically high as to border on cruel. They were right. Lost Levels is packed full of so many harrowing jumps, so many tight corners, and so much precision platforming that it’ll make you want to quit video games. Thank God for the save file because there would be no way to get through it in a single run short of devoting literally all your spare time to practice.
For as cool as it is to experience a new Mario game, Lost Levels is essentially just a harder version of the first one. The level design is the same, enemies are similar and, naturally, the plot is identical. Bowser kidnaps the princess and Mario and Luigi set out to save her. This time around, there’s no two player mode, forcing us to choose between the brothers. However, each comes with his own advantage: Mario has increased ground friction, allowing for less sliding and faster running and Luigi can jump higher. This difference in gameplay is fun, but doesn’t lead to much in terms of alternate play through experience, as in Super Mario Bros. 2. where Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Toadstool (she wasn’t Peach yet!) each possess a trait that is unique to them and forced us to play the game differently depending on who we chose for each level. Of course I meant the other Super Mario Bros 2…the second one…you know what I mean!
So wait…if All-Stars was the first time that the real Mario 2 was seen outside of Japan, then what have we been playing this whole time? Do a quick Google search for Doki Doki Panic and you’ll have your answer. It was a 2-player, sidescrolling, platformer prototype that was originally set to tie in with a tech expo in Japan. The levels and enemies were designed to reflect the theme of the event. After Mario 2 was deemed too difficult and too similar to its predecessor, Panic was re-tuned and repackaged as Super Mario Bros. 2 for the rest of the world, and even released in Japan later as Super Mario USA.
For once, I have to agree with a company’s decision to change a product for Western release. If the original Mario 2 had made it over to the States, its shortcomings may have killed the franchise. Instead, we got the iconic game we’ve all come to love as Super Mario Bros. 2. If things had happened differently then Mouser, Birdo, Wart, the Shy Guys and many more loveable characters would never have been part of the Mario universe. Knowing all this makes Super Mario All-Stars, and especially The Lost Levels, even more enjoyable. Whether its this original version for the SNES or the re-release for the Wii in 2010, having the first four Mario games at your fingertips with improved graphics and sound and no decrease to nostalgic fun is an opportunity no gamer can pass up.
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