MFX Ramblings, The Stone(d) Age

Super Mario Brothers

Welcome to The Stone(d) Age!  This is the place where retro games are given the MFX treatment.  I’m Stoner and I’ll lead you through the wonderful world of retro gaming but with a slight twist.  So let’s step back in time to a world before X-box One and PS4, to a time when COD was still just a fish and when an Italian Plumber attempted to overthrow the kingdom of an evil Dragon Turtle.

So I’m finally able to obtain the latest and greatest in video gaming.  The pinnacle of excellence.

The Nintendo Entertainment System.

Along with the Nintendo, I obtained a copy of their launch title “Super Mario Brothers”, a game about a pair of Italian Plumbers who brave the terrifying world of the Mushroom Kingdom in order to save Princess Toadstool from the evil King Koopa.  A story so classic it could, no SHOULD, be found on a shelf next to Homer’s Odyssey or Dante’s Inferno.

Super Mario Bros

 

This thrilling tale spans across 32 different stages divided into 8 worlds, each with its own twists and turns, pitfalls and traps.  And let me tell you it starts you off fast.  There’s no tutorial teaching you the basics here.  In the opening seconds of the game you are thrust into battle against an enemy that can easily kill you with a single attack.  Luckily you are capable of doing the same to said enemy.  Or, if you’d prefer, can choose to avoid the enemy all together.  And every other enemy in the game as well.  The options are figuratively endless here.

But lets back up a bit.  In the single player campaign you play as Mario.  If you choose to play Co-op, your partner will play as your brother Luigi.  The interesting thing is that the Co-op Campaign feels almost more like a competitive mode against your friend.  Your progress does not further your partner, and you take turns instead of playing alongside them.

This gives a number of options as far as how you approach the multiplayer.  You can choose to watch one another as you play, learning from the other’s mistakes and trying not to make those mistakes when you take your turn.  Or you can turn it into a competition of sorts.  Who can get the furthest in the game without dying?  Who can rescue Princess Toadstool first?  Who can collect the most money at the end of each stage?  SO MANY OPTIONS.

There are a variety of enemy types, each requiring their own strategies to defeat.  Some are vulnerable to your basic attacks, some require stronger special attacks to defeat.  Some are reverse, requiring your basic attack to defeat while being immune to your special.  Some can fly while others can jump directly at you from below screen.  No two enemy types can be approached with the same exact strategy as another.  From the lowly Goomba to the mighty King Koopa himself, there are many different foes that will keep you on your toes at all times.

The stages are beautiful.  From the outdoor vistas(both during the day AND at night I should add) to the underground catacombs and everything in between.  Some stages have you leaping through the air seemingly miles above ground.  Others have you swimming through the ocean and attempting to dodge the vicious denizens therein.  Each group of stages culminates in a stage with a massive castle filled with dangerous traps including fireballs and lava and a battle against King Koopa himself.  This crafty foe can take hits from multiple fireballs and is immune to your own regular jump attack, while having access to fireballs of his own and being able to defeat you with two hits of his own.

Controls are very tight.  You never feel like Mario(or Luigi)is doing something you didn’t tell him to do.  Any time you are hit by an enemy or fall into a pit are very much your own fault and you can tell.  Mario has a fairly slow pace on his own, but you can make him run by holding the B button.  This lets you complete stages much quicker, and with a time limit this is sometimes required!

Speaking of the time limit, you are restricted to how long you can spend in each stage but you are also encouraged to explore.  There are oftentimes shortcuts in the stages that allow you to bypass sections.  At certain hidden locations are actually shortcuts that allow you to bypass whole groups of stages!  Its a very interesting balance of being rushed and exploring.  This is another case where having a second player is handy because you can explore a stage partially and finish if you feel like you are going to be rushed and your partner can proceed to explore anything you didn’t afterwards.

That said, while there are many good things to say about the game there are a number of negatives.  For one while I praised the variety of enemy types, sometimes it feels like you’re being overwhelmed.  There are stages you have to compete with not only the normal enemy types, but also enemies being tossed at you from above at seemingly random intervals by an enemy that feels impossible to reach.  And in the underwater stages if you lose your Fireball the entire tone of the game shifts into an almost stealth-like game in a very jarring way that it doesn’t prepare you for before hand.

And the music.  The tunes are very catchy and you will find yourself humming them for weeks afterwards, but there are only a handful of songs that play in each stage.  I wish they had worked in some extra songs to break up the monotony a little bit.  Or at least give me the option to mute the music and put on my own.

Those bits aside, this is a very fun game.  If I had to rate it(which is kinda the point of the article) I’d give it an 8.5 out of 10.

  • Ah memories! I’m going to love this series, I can tell already. Just like I used to love my master system and mega drive…although mentioning those consoles in a NES article like this might start a riot! Awesome stuff Stoner. Thanks for contributing to MFX!

  • dq

    Very enjoyable, and as I said in the forums, makes me want to play the game. Actually I’ve since found out some sort of nintendo land package comes with the wii u which I might consider getting.