Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition
I’m willing to bet that no other music is more recognizable to people of our generation than the beginning few bars of the original Super Mario Bros. theme. For many of us, Super Mario Bros. on the NES was our first experience playing a home console game that actually returned more on fun than what could be found at the local quarter-munching arcade. Sure, lots of us spent time locked into games on Atari 2600, but nostalgia aside, most games on that wood-grained console were just repetitive exercises in high score racking. Even if a game seemed to have some sort of story, most of the time “beating” it just sent you back to the beginning with the difficulty and color-palette ramped up. For me, I’ll never forget the first time I played SMB. The controller was like some bizarre abomination. “No joystick? What am I supposed to call this thing, then?” Two candy red buttons marked “A” and “B” were 100% more buttons than the clunky, vaguely chocolate-tasting (don’t ask) controller of the 2600. My young brain in sensory overload, I put away my trepidations and decided to try this crazy device that had whipped the playground into a gossipy frenzy. My thumb found its way to the Start button and I gave it a push, the soft rubber yielding in a way that is still as familiar as any tactile sensation I can recall. “Da na na nuh na na, NA!” And so it began… catch the rest of the story after the jump.
Recently my good friend and fellow geek Gamemjoe surprised me with an early Christmas present: Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition for the Nintendo Wii. I was, as you can imagine, pretty damn excited. I decided to share my excitement with you by documenting the unboxing. My thoughts on the game follow the photo set.
What you’re getting here is a CD with some of the “hits” from various Mario games throughout the ages, along with recognizable sound effects. You also get a disc with the original Super Mario All-Stars for the NES, which includes the 16-bit remakes of SMB 1, 2, and 3, along with “Lost Levels,” which was known as Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan. That’s basically it, a ROM of a Super NES game. A lot has been said about this perceived lack of effort on the part of Nintendo in bringing out this collection, and while the Nintendo fanboy in me wants nothing more than to rally behind the company that owns a significant chunk of my childhood memories, unfortunately I have to join in with the criticism. Granted, it’s a mild criticism.
First off, the games are still just as good as you remember them being. However, I’m not sure if it’s a product of the emulation or a slight delay in the Wii controller or the refresh rate of my TV, but the controls on the original SMB feel just a teeny bit off. This microscopic delay might not even be noticeable to someone just picking up the game, but for those of us who can play world 1-1 with our eyes closed, this is a serious problem. He just feels… barely not right, which is somehow more than enough to throw off timing. Again, it could just be my television, but in any case it sullies the experience. It would be like re-watching your favorite childhood movie with the speed turned down just a frame or two. Seemingly not there, but familiarity with the material tells you otherwise.
Secondly, as has been mentioned by pretty much every media outlet, this game is nothing but a ROM of a Super NES game. Not that much of a problem, I guess, but couldn’t they have done Mario just a bit better for his 25th birthday? When New Super Mario Bros. Wii came out, with its modern-day graphical take on the side-scrolling platformer, one of the first things I imagined was an SMB All-Stars using the engine from New SMB. Could it have been that difficult for Nintendo? They have all the assets laying around anyway, why not skin them over the original games? That was my nerd-dream for a SMB All-Stars, and unfortunately Nintendo decided it was either too costly or too difficult to do it and so they just put the ROM on a DVD and sold us that for $30. Where’s Super Mario World? Why not have both the NES and the Super NES versions? Maybe the Gameboy Super Mario Land so some of us could actually play it without the graphics being hopelessly blurred by the primitive tech of the original Gameboy screen? There are a million “why not this?” and “what about thats?” It just feels like they missed out on such a great opportunity here. Maybe they’re saving it all up for the SMB 30th Anniversary Collection?
The games are fun, there’s no question, and other than the weird control difference I noticed the games play exactly like you remember. I mean, why wouldn’t they? They are the same games, literally, just in a different, flashy package. I can’t say I don’t like my collection, because honestly I love it. I really do. It’s just that I feel like Nintendo could have done so much more with it, and my feelings echo the feelings of nearly everyone who’s played it.
Bottom line: a fun collection of your old favorites, a must-have for obsessive fanboys, but in the end it lacks the Nintendo polish and innovation that you would expect.