A secret about me? I’m a classic gamer. I still have a working Atari 2600 at home. Sadly, I don’t have a TV that will play it… but eh. Details, right? I played Pole Position, Frogger, Pac Man, Q-Bert, Berzerker, Missile Command, and yes… even E.T. For the NES, I’ve played well over a hundred games and personally own around ninety.
So it should come as no surprise that I wanted to take a look at the second highest selling video game of all time: Super Mario Brothers.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can hear it now. ‘This game is so old! It’s easy! Anyone can beat it!’ Or maybe something like this: ‘This game doesn’t matter anymore. Nobody cares.’ Probably would go on to say I should stick with new games or games that have come out over the past year or so. Or hell, stick with the coming generation of games since that’s the future.
The future of games is questionable at best. It’s not focused on the gamer anymore, but rather focused on profit motives. We have DLCs and microtransactions becoming the norm in the industry. Look at Dead Space 3 for a good example of that. If you don’t feel like doing the work to get the good weapons an armor, just pay a few bucks and bam! The game quickly becomes pay-to-win. While in the guise of making things easier for the player, it’s really a subtle way for the company to nickel and dime the player. So with any site, or any reviewer, worth his or her salt should occasionally take a look back before games were monetized, back when games were there to be played to win rather than pay to win.
The gameplay of this game is simplistic when compared to modern games. It was the side-scroller game that made the side-scroller popular. The screen moved from left to right, keeping Mario roughly in the middle of the screen (x-axis, not y-axis). Mario can jump around, stomp on enemies, climb vines, smash bricks, collect coins, shoot fire from his hand, swim, jump on springs, and hit switches to collapse bridges. The game designers created a nice variety of enemies to thwart the player. Each of these enemies have their own unique abilities.. all there to give the player a nice challenge without being too overwhelming.
The level designs, at their core, consists of obstacles that the player needs to learn to navigate. They have to figure out how far to jump, when to run versus walk, what pipes to go down, where the power-ups are, where the 1-ups are, where hidden bricks are at (invisible as well as those hidden in plain sight), what the correct sequence of paths are in order to progress through stages (or else be stuck in an infinite loop),
The game is simple to learn and difficult to master. Anyone familiar with Nintendo games will recognize this as the trademark of Nintendo. All of their games are easy to pick up. You will have the basics down within seconds. But mastering them? Heh. That’ll take hours…. maybe even days!
The story is simple. Bowser kidnapped the Princess. He used his magic to transform her subjects into bricks or flat out just enslave them somewhere off-screen. Mario has to save her. And… that’s it. No plot twists. No dramatic Luigi was Bowser the entire time bullcrap we’d see with modern games. The simplicity of the story works fine, as the game doesn’t revolve around the story. It revolves around the gameplay. Because, you know… that’s what games are about.
As for the difficulty of the game? I’ve found the game to be surprisingly difficult. I know a number of gamers who dominate modern video games, yet have never been able to beat this game. A couple of them haven’t been able to beat World 1-1. I’m still able to pick up the game and beat it, but with a great deal of difficulty. World 8-2 and 8-3 are some of the most difficult stages I’ve ever encountered. There’s a wall of Hammer Brothers that… wow… I think it’s more luck than skill for getting past them. And some of those jumps require cat-like reflexes. Even if you see a video of it, it is not like playing it. Those obstacles come out of freaking nowhere!!!
There was a point in time when video games were about the journey rather than the destination. This game really is about the gameplay, not the story. It is about being able to make it past the stages, not rescuing the Princess. It’s about getting past all the obstacles, not beating stages. It’s about the joy of playing the game. Heck, look at the end of the game. The reward for beating the game is playing the game again!
I could go on and on, talking about how this game has echoed throughout the ages until modern times, but you already know that for yourselves. How could you not? It’s there within every Mario game ever made, if not influential in every video game that’s come after it. So, dig out your old NES and pop this classic in. Download it onto your Wii, Wii-U, or whatever other system you have that can do it. Treat yourself and play this classic.
You won’t regret it.