Saturday, April 28, 2007

Super Mario Bros [VC]

Super Mario Bros
Platform: Wii Virtual Console
Type: Platformer
Graphics: 6.5/10
Story: 4/10
Gameplay: 8.5/10
Multiplayer: 0/10 (There IS MP)
Sound: 10/10
Overall: 8/10

This game first came out in 1973 and now is available for download from the Wii shop for 500 points. This game is a direct port with no changes to gameplay whatsoever. The controls work well but the lack of continue button when you die is annoying. Loads of hidden extras add replayability.

The story in this game is very simple: You are Mario, you must rescue the princess, killing various baddies and collecting mushrooms along the way. It is odd that the story is disappointing, as story was one of the few things that shouldn't necessarily improve as time moves on, as it is not dependant on hardware but imagination. However, the story is not important and it hasn't pretended to have a story. It is just a straightforward platformer.

Ironically, the graphics actually stand up quite well. I mean, obviously they are pixelated and 2D but they have a very classy style. Clearly a lot of effort has gone in to everything. At the time of creation, they did not have programs that automatically calculated the shadows on items, so that has to be done by the artist. At no point do you cringe, as the graphics do not get in the way of the game. This is not true for some games were they have tried to over-complicate the graphics and it is difficult to work out what anything is.

The gameplay is simple and has surprisingly more layers than I thought it would. The controls are laid out well on the Wiimote and you never curse the scheme. The depth I mentioned includes combo moves you can perform. Not proper combo moves, but if you kill more than one enemy in one jump you get more points. You will spend time getting jumps just right and working out ways to kill more people from one jump. For example, if a turtle-thing comes towards you, you jump on it to disable it, and once again to kick it. If you time the kick, you can get 2 or 3 enemies in one smooth move as it knocks them over. Furthermore, there are many hidden items throughout the game. The levels are made of boxes. Most of the boxes don't do anything when you hit in to them, but some, with no distinguishing features, will contain coins, health and powerups. It is really rewarding finding one that all your friends missed and encourages you to explore the whole map. Also, even more obscurely, there are invisible boxes that you have to jump in to by chance! One negative thing is the lack of a re-try button when you die. Apparently, there is a way to continue after you die but I have never got it to work. This is annoying if you have got far in to the game, but the levels, thanks to that added depth, are re-playable.

Unfortunately, the multiplayer is useless. It is played hot seat, which is a bad start for a platformer. I was hoping that you would play simultaneously and you both had to keep on the camera. It would be a competition to see who got the most points. However, that was not to be. Second problem is that, despite it being hotseat, you need two controllers to play, wasting more batteries. Thirdly, The game does not swap the player over at the end of the stage, but swaps over when you lose a life. This may not sound bad, but it makes it pretty unplayable for both parties if you have one really good person and one not so good person. Or even two really good people, although less so. To top it off, it does not present the winner and their score at the end, it just returns to the main menu., which defeats the whole point of playing: why not just take it in turns?

Finally, the sound is fantastic. From the classic techno background tunes to the perfect jump sound and the increased tempo when you get invincibility, everything is just right. The music is fantastic and a lot of modern gaming music is inspired from it. You will find yourself humming the tunes all the time and in some respects you can almost play the game as a music game. One example of this is, in the first level, you get the well known mario tune and if you jump just at the end of the intro it sounds cool.

In conclusion this game is still fun after all those years. I got it for half price (see previous post) and it is definitely good value for money. The lack of a continue is annoying but the levels, thanks to the extra depth, are fairly re-playable. The multiplayer may be terrible, but the game was never cut out for MP and can be safely ignored. For the full price a little more thinking is required. It is fun, however, it is very old. If you only have a Wiimote then it is probably the best game on the market, if you love platformers then you will want to get this. In general, I would get it, but don't buy points just for it as it is quite repetitive.

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