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Review: Super Mario Bros. 1 (Nintendo NES)

Analyzing Super Mario Bros involves talking about the history of video games. I still remember when I was a little “lemming” arriving home, the day of my holy communion, and finding above my bed a big box with the Nintendo Entertainment System and a game clumsily wrapped in crumpled paper, already opened by my older brothers, who sneaked for it days before my family gave away the present.

A historic leap

Great sensations I felt while I took off the gray cartridge from its box, introducing it on the machine and grabbing the gamepad with the D-pad and its A and B red buttons for the first time. When I saw on screen: “1 Player Press start” and I began the game it was something that has been marked in my memory and in my retina.

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This work created by Shigeru Miyamoto in 1985 was a before and after in the world of videogames and a revolution for home electronic entertainment. The very idea of a hero who is dedicated to advance in lateral displacement, running from left to right, it was a surprise to the company located in Japan and to the creator of the game. The impact it had led Mario to be named the company’s official mascot and an icon in the industry. But before analyzing the peculiarities of this title, a tiny bit of history.

Who are you and why that moustache?

With this title, the video game industry experienced a reorganization that prompted them to new heights never achieved before; helping the industry out of a crisis that was submerged from the great failure of the first generation (Atari and other systems as the Coleco did not reach the expected impact). This game tell us the journey of two plumbers to save the princess of Mushroom Kingdom, Peach, who has been kidnapped by the evil King of the Koopas, Bowser. Through eight very different worlds the players have to overcome all kinds of obstacles, enemies and jumps. At first it seems simple but the wisdom and skill of the player will be the key to solve the ballot so they can rescue the poor princess from the evil clutches of his oppressor.

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We should not forget that this game was released in 1985, so our graphic standards should focus on the software which was present in those moments. With very colorful sprites, Mario shows his clothing, his moustache and his characteristic red cap neatly. Despite being worlds fairly flat, with little details, the ending game is just right and perfectly fulfills the requirements for the first platform title in the genre. It was quite an innovation finding so many levels with that variety of enemies as atypical and distinct as green and brown turtles or goombas, which were easily crushed by our hero.

Nor can we leave out the aquatic stages and of course the final levels of each world in which we must defeat the evil henchman shift guarding his castle, full of chasms, spikes, walls of fire and lava pits. Everything to get to the final runway where we have to measure ourselves against evil bosses, aided only by our skill and various elements like fire flowers or mushrooms that will provide us some extra help.

Unforgettable soundtrack and gameplay

In the screen title there is not a sound, but pressing the start button will lead us to a melody that each and every one of us has heard at one time or another in our lives. These notes composed by Koji Kondo will be part of history. There are different harmonies for each level, depending on whether we are underwater, on the surface, in a cave or in a castle. Although the tunes are repeated, they are not monotonous and with the sound effects it makes the whole piece a memorable soundtrack very well composed.

If anything can be talked at length, it’s about the gameplay of this Triple A. The first platform game and first one to use, as we have already mentioned above, lateral displacement. A huge innovation. The D-pad and the two action buttons achieve the expected effect in an almost perfect way. The sensitivity of the buttons by pressing the jump button and the D-pad directions are very well adjusted; depending on how hard we press A or B we will reach a power or another.

Inside the game we will have, in the beginning, five lives that can be increased if we are lucky enough to find a green mushroom, which will give us an extra life, exactly the same as if we collect 100 coins in the game. Throughout the screens we will be getting points for defeating our enemies. If we make a combo of more than eight strokes, eliminating eight enemies in a single bound with for example a single shell, it will also give us an extra life. It will also add points to wreck scene elements, such as empty blocks or question blocks. Inside of these we may find coins or items that will help us in our journey, like for example mushrooms or fire flowers that will give us more strength or even stars that will make us invulnerable for a short period of time.

In the final part of each stage, as a goal, we will find some flags to hoist jumping from afar. The higher we get the higher score we will achieve and if we are skilled and we jump in a precise second, we might even be rewarded with fireworks to celebrate our arrival.

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This game maybe is a bit linear and that’s why we may not find a great reason to replay it, except for the sheer fun it offers. Once you save the princess the main goal is over. You can try to have fun ending it with more lives, or in less time (there are records in the web in which it appears that this game can get solved in less than five minutes) or achieving a higher score, but the end will remain the same. Yes, the most persistent will be rewarded with the chance of playing again the game in a more difficult level (hard mode), with stronger enemies and more complex levels.

That’s all folks!

Super Mario Bros is very famous for a reason. This is the first title in a long line of episodes and imitations: a pioneer in the world of video games. Like good wine, it improves with age and continues to offer its best image. Today with the new versions of this title, with a substantial graphical improvement, makes this game highly recommended for spending an afternoon in an entertaining and enjoyable place. The tight difficulty curve makes the challenge not too monotonous. A game that despite being unable to save our progress during the game (in the original version we can’t, but we do in the later versions) it is not frustrating. Starting from scratch has the incentive to keep us improving and moving forward. If you are tired of ultra defined graphics and you just intend to bring a few hours to a classic game that is fun and challenging at the same time, do not hesitate and try this wonder created by Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamoto.

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