Throwback Thursday: Super Mario Bros. for the NES
Back in the early 1980s video games were in the midst of a downward spiral, where many prolific gaming companies of the time like Atari were becoming bankrupt because of a shortage in sales for home consoles. When all hope seemed lost for video games the release of Nintendo’s own Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985 sparked a renewed interest in video games that was completely unprecedented. The strong sales that the NES generated in North America was in part due to what is considered one of the most well known video games in gaming history. That game is none other than Super Mario Brothers, a platforming classic that set the standard for all future Mario games and established Mario as a household name.
In regards to plot you assume the role of the chubby plumber Mario as he tries to rescue Princess Toadstool (Peach) from the clutches of the vile King Koopa (Bowser) in order to restore order to the Mushroom Kingdom, basically a place that looks like a living fever dream. On the whole there really isn’t much to say about the game that has not already been said already, you control the eponymous hero Mario or his younger brother Luigi in the “2 Player Game” as they navigates their way through an array of worlds with their own set of levels.
Your goal is to reach the end of every level by jumping over obstacles and pitfalls as well as avoiding Bowser’s minions who constantly try to impede your progress. Mario can power himself up by grabbing mushrooms which increases his size and he can defeat enemies by either jumping on top of them or by getting a flower which grants him the ability to fling fireballs at enemies. Also every so often Mario can nab a star that makes him faster and invulnerable to all enemy damage. At the end of every level there is a flag pole that must be jumped on in order to complete the stage and after Mario lowers the flag and enters the small castle adjacent to it he is greeted by a Toad who tells him one of the most famous lines in gaming history: “Sorry, but our princess is in another castle”.
One way in which Super Mario Bros became the quintessential platformer is through its dynamic jumping options. What I mean by this is that the player has total control over Mario’s movement and the fashion in which he executes his jumps. For example, by holding the B button you can make Mario sprint thus increasing his speed and the trajectory of his jumps. Sprinting is crucial to master especially in later levels where long spaces between platforms become a constant. You can also control the height of Mario’s jump depending on how much pressure you apply to the A button, pressing down fully makes him do a complete jump, while quickly tapping it will cause Mario to do a short jump which definitely comes in handy during situations when spike traps or fire rods are really putting pressure on you.
Despite what seems like a generic platforming routine the game never gets stale because every stage has their own nuances and differences to make them fun and original. The game has levels that take Mario to underground labyrinths, precarious fortresses, and even vast underwater reefs. Super Mario Bros. is also so well known because of its many secrets and replay value, always giving players a reason to go back and play the game for a perfect run. Play and beat the game by using level warps and intentional exploits of game glitches or play the game traditionally and complete every level as fast as possible without dying. The choice of how you want to play the game is yours and yours alone.
In regards to flaws there really isn’t much to address unless you are someone who is not a fan of platformers then stay far away from this game. However, if you are a fan of platformers, Nintendo, or of Mario in general then playing this game is a must, but let’s be honest here you probably already have. If you haven’t had the pleasure of playing Super Mario Bros. then do not feel ashamed, the game is available virtually everywhere now and has been ported to most of Nintendo’s major consoles. Get it now on the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, or Wii Virtual Console and experience a truly remarkable Nintendo classic.