Super Mario Bros.
is, and will always be a Nintendo staple. Even though the company's got dozens of successful franchises, the original Super Mario Bros.
is the company's one true classic it can afford to recycle because the game holds up incredibly well more than eighteen years later. Even as standards evolve with system capabilities, the original Miyamoto platformer holds its own and still retains a lot of challenge and replay value.
The original NES version of Super Mario Bros. is one of the most successful videogames ever made; yes, it was a pack-in, but it arguably sold bazillions of Nintendo Entertainment systems back in 1986 and kickstarted Nintendo's home console dominance after Atari let the market fizzle and die. The game was recreated on the Super NES in Super Mario All-Stars format, and another gazillion copies were handed over to system owners. The game returned again when Nintendo made the move from black-and-white to Game Boy Color, recreating the exact NES design on the new system in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. to show gamers exactly what the system's capable of.
Which brings us to the newly reissued Classic NES Series version of Super Mario Bros. The game is literally nothing more than exactly what gamers got on the Famicom and NES nearly twenty years ago; pop the cartridge in a Game Boy Advance and it's the exact same experience. No special boot-up screen, no fancy menus...just the classic title screen and the choice of One or Two Players. This is where the Super Mario universe came into its own, promoting Mario out of his generic "handiman" and "plumber" careers into Mushroom Kingdom's savior. It's where Goombas, Paratroopas, and King Koopa became household names, and headbouncing enemies became a standard gameplay element.
Even with the series evolving over the next 18 years in several sequels, the original game is still incredibly well preserved in its complex simplicity. Not once does it feel like the game's limited in gameplay, or missing any necessary moves; even when Mario's been given advanced capabilities in sequels, it never seems like he should have them in this classic. No need for flying, raccoon transforming, or Yoshi-riding. The levels and challenges don't need it.
Since the game's a perfect emulation of the Nintendo Entertainment System edition, all the tricks work; from the hidden warp pipes to that skillful 100 1-up trick. The only new addition is the game's battery save; at any time players can tell the emulator to keep track of the high score. Unfortunately, the battery save isn't used to its fullest. Because of the game's expansive design of 32 levels (without warping, of course) it would have been extremely handy to be able to save at any point in the game. Sleep mode is a good start, and it's included here, but once the system's turned off, that save spot goes goodbye.
The display has been altered just a tad to accommodate the NES's "taller" image aspect ratio in the GBA's slightly squished resolution. Keen eyes will see how they did it: the emulation pretty much removes every fourth resolution line, which means sprites will lose a bit of their detail. Mario, both in his big and small modes, sometimes loses his mustache, and goombas (those walking mushrooms) seem to be a bit shorter around the neck. The change in resolution doesn't affect the gameplay one bit, though, since the GBA can still show 100% of the game's action on-screen....not like what Game Boy Color owners had to deal with in Super Mario Bros. DX.
There's also link cable and Wireless Adapter support in the Classic NES Series edition. Since Super Mario Bros. two player mode was hotseat-style where players alternated their turns after the other player fails, this link-up inclusion isn't entirely necessary. Players simply hand over the system when it's the other person's turn. In link up mode, the other person views the action on his screen with his controls locked-out until it's his turn. Still, it's good that the support is there, showing players just how capable the software and emulation can be for future NES games.
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