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Retro Review: Super Mario Bros.

Does the game that started an empire still stand the test of time? Find out in our retro review of Super Mario Bros. for the NES!

Super Mario Bros. is a masterpiece in game design

By Corey Dirrig
Twitter: @RogueSpartan4

Even after thirty years, Super Mario Bros. for the NES is still the pinnacle of game design. For  many older gamers, including myself, Super Mario Bros. introduced us to just how amazing video games could be, even if it wasn’t necessarily our first.  The evolution from the arcade shooters of Asteroids and the semi-static screens of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, as the screen and levels now moved and changed as the player moved from right to left. Hidden secrets are still being found to this day, whether it’s a hidden passage to a different world, a hidden 1-UP, or the charmingly simple sprites. Even the iconic theme music is still the first thing gamers think of first when it comes to video game soundtracks. It may seem like a simple notion now, but it idea can still be seen in the DNA of every game since, including popular series like Mega Man, Castlevania, and Sonic the Hedgehog.  It is absolutely the quintessential game for veterans and new gamers alike.

The experience still remains timeless.  The story is pretty straight to the point, Princess Toadstool is captured by King Koopa and it is up to Mario to save her.  But the real appeal of the game is the gameplay.  It is still unrivaled and unmatched by any game to follow, arguably even it’s sequels and iterations. We’ve seen so much evolution in the series that it might seem a little strange to think that mechanically this still is the series’ best, but once you sit down and take the time, you’ll be amazed at just how well it still feels. You’ll see that every detail of the later games’ quality is accounted for: the smart level design, the various themed locations, the smart enemy placement, the precise jumps and physics, and the amazing feeling you get when you complete the next level.  Even the fire flower still feels how it should. It’s all wrapped in this simple package.

The game doesn’t hold your hand, but allows you explore and experiment with the controls. Though they seem simple enough, the simple scheme requires a lot of skill to master, even within the first few levels.  Learning to judge how far you need to jump to a platform and how you can run and jump to land further adds to the fun.  The heart-pounding feeling you get when you jump and barely land it really feels like nothing else, and still feels that way almost thirty years later.

10/10 – The DNA Network

Super Mario Bros. was a revolutionary idea that paved the way for the industry moving forward, as we still see it’s DNA in many of the games we enjoy today.  The way it influenced my love of gaming is almost impossible to explain, but those who started gaming with a NES know the overwhelming feeling of nostalgia when they see those sprites and here the iconic melody.  It’s one of those rare titles that has that timeless quality, still as relevant today as it was in the 1980’s.  It has been reissued across Nintendo’s various consoles so many times that it never feels too far from our grasp.  Super Mario Bros. is in it’s own master-class when it comes to design, mechanics, and sprite work, and is still the pentacle of gaming.  It’s absolutely the perfect game, and is not only essential, but a requirement for anyone who has any respect for the history for the industry we all love.

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