Media Review: Super Mario Bros.

Ben Buchalter, Staff Writer

Super Mario Bros. is a classic game that almost anyone recognizes from a single picture. Almost everyone knows the World 1-1 theme, and can sing the whole song from the first seven notes. However, not nearly as many people have played the game, so on Media Review, we’re covering this classic.

Released in September of 1985 in Japan, Super Mario Bros. would be one of the launch titles for Nintendo’s landmark NES, or Nintendo Entertainment System. Nintendo, a company that previously had sold playing cards and small “Game & Watch” systems, as well as developing hit arcade games like “Donkey Kong” decided to hit up the home console market. Nintendo launched the NES in 1985, and along with it, Super Mario Bros. The game was stored on a 256 kilobit cartridge. By comparison, a five-second GIF is 13,600 kilobits. 

The game itself seems basic nowadays: You play as the titular Mario, a character more recognized than Mickey Mouse, in his quest to defeat the evil Bowser and rescue Princess Toadstool (also known as Princess Peach). Along the way, he jumps, ducks, collects coins, breaks blocks, and eats mushrooms in order to get across 32 levels and rescue the princess.

Enough backstory, onto the review.

Super Mario Bros. starts off strong, blasting the logo to the best of it’s 8-bit ability, showing off the game’s name, your score, and the main character. Waiting at the menu plays a short demonstration of the game, something carried over from Nintendo’s arcade career. Pressing the select button on the controller will move the cursor to 2 Player Game, though, strangely, the up and down arrows don’t change it. This can be un-intuitive at first, but it was 1985, and this was one of the first games of it’s kind.

Starting a 1-Player game shows you your lives, before plopping you directly into World 1-1. This first level is one of the best tutorials ever created, and it teaches you all of the mechanics of the game without a single text box. The controls are just as refined as the level: when you press A, Mario jumps immediately. When you press Right, Mario goes right. When you press left, Mario goes left. No stuttering, no waiting, just movement. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the movement of the screen – if a Powerup goes off the left side of the level, TOUGH LUCK! You can’t go back. This kind of choice is baffling and makes no sense at all – but it can be forgiven as Super Mario Bros. was breaking new ground.

The rest of the levels in World 1 are fine, though the score and time mechanics end up starting to break down later in the game, and feel so much more like relics of an arcade game. Plus, there are no quicksaves, no continues, and no way to save progress – if you lose all your lives, you have to restart from the start of the game. However, these questionable decisions don’t ruin the experience at all. The game is full of memorable art, songs, and – on some occasions – levels. Overall, Super Mario Bros. is a fun experience, and does not have to be experienced only on the NES. In 1993, Super Mario All-Stars was released for the NES, which introduced four remade Super Mario games – including Super Mario Bros. This version fixes some bugs and tremendously improves both the music and graphics, also adding saving and continuing from any given point – though you still can’t go backwards.

In conclusion, despite it’s few poorly aged flaws, Super Mario Bros. is one of those games that should be played at least once.

URSUS Media Rating: 9 OUT OF 10

5/5 for innovation.
2/2 for content.
1/1 for controls.
2/2 for graphics.
-1 for screen lock and arcade relics.