Super Mario Bros.
Release Date: October 1985
Well, I’ve come to the Granddaddy of them all, Super Mario Bros. I saved this for the last game in the NES launch titles because I expect it to be the best and most complete game of them all (sorry, I can’t figure out how to get Gyromite and Stack Up to work without ROB). I still play Super Mario Bros. on the legit hardware a lot, so I’ve got plenty of experience with it. Just check out my LP. It’s not the best I can do because I had a some over the shoulder lookers who would interject at bad times, but I still do pretty well.
Super Mario Bros. is the quintessential platformer. You are Mario (or Luigi) and you are on a quest to save Princess Toadstool (Peach) from the evil Bowser. Already, we have a story, which only Kung Fu has had so far. This story must be good enough, because it’s been repeated for over 35 years now.
There are eight worlds with four levels in each. Mario traverses from left to right, breaking blocks and stomping Bowser’s baddies. There are a fair number of enemies in Super Mario Bros. There is the goomba, four different types of koopa troopas, buzzy beetles, hammer bros, Lakitu and his pet spiny, piranha plants, cheep-cheeps, Bullet Bill, and Bloober/Blooper. You can stomp on most of the baddies to kill them, but there are a few that can only be killed by fire.
Mario has three different states. Regular Mario, which you start out as, take one hit and you die. Grab a mushroom and become Super Mario. Super Mario doubles in size and can now take a hit from a baddie without dying. While Super Mario, finding a fire flower turns Mario into Fiery Mario, now with the ability to shoot fireballs at the baddies. Mario even can become invincible if he comes across a Starman powerup.
With all of this ability, Mario traverses the levels of the Mushroom Kingdom, one by one, until reaching a castle. In the first seven castles are baddies disguised as Bowser guarding toad retainers. You can actually see which baddies are disguised as Bowser if you defeat them with five shots from the fire flower. If you can make it through all 8 worlds (watch my LP to see if I did [spoiler alert: I did]) you finally save the princess and get to start all over with a more difficult playthrough.
Very good, detailed graphics grace the screen. Sure, they’ll get better, but these are great for 1985.
Tell me you don’t have the theme from World 1-1 memorized. I don’t believe you. The sound effects are used well. Even effects that were used in other launch titles are better here.
I’d say Super Mario Bros. has nearly perfect gameplay. It’s intuitive enough to learn quickly and as you put more time into learning the nuance of the controls you can really become a master.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t beat world 8. Now, if I’m soberish, I can do it without losing a life. It’s difficult to begin with, but you get over it with time.
Fun Factor: 3.5
If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t pop it in and play it to this day. Super Mario Bros. is one of the most base video game experiences there is. That’s why hundreds of platformers tried to follow the formula, but only a few were able to really improve on it.
Overall Grade: 3.0
Super Mario Bros. gets a B, indeed, the highest score of the launch titles. Looking down the list, I suspect it will hold the title of best rated game at least into 1987.