tiistai 17. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - Super Mario All-Stars (1993)

Genre(s): Platform / Compilation
Released: 1993
Available on: SNES
Developer(s): Nintendo
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Players: 1-2

The early 1990’s were filled with different Mario games, but Super Mario World was the last traditional platformer for a major home system, for a long while. In 1993, negotiations for a new, more or less traditional Mario game began, and this time, for the SNES instead of the Game Boy which had the Super Mario Land series. To tide fans over, since they knew the next project would be big and take a lot of time to complete, Nintendo remade all three Super Mario Bros. games for the SNES, and added a bonus in the form of the very original Super Mario Bros. 2, previously released exclusively in Japan, and gave it a new prompt title – The Lost Levels. Needless to say, but I’ll do it anyway: four classic platformers, all audiovisually overhauled to meet 16-bit standards, and with a save feature the originals unfortunately didn’t have. Good business, good business...

The holy book of platformers – a Black Bible for purists

Fireworks coming up, in the vintage SMB style.
Super Mario Bros.: Brothers Mario and Luigi, who are both plumbers, end up in Mushroom Kingdom, where they are recruited by anthropomorphic mushrooms to save the human Princess Toadstool from the evil Bowser and his mischeavous army of misfit turtles.
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels: Bowser has kidnapped the Princess once again and waits for the Mario brothers beyond several trap-laden levels.
Super Mario Bros. 2: In a strange dream, Mario is summoned to save the land of Subcon from the rule of an evil, froggy tyrant calling himself King Wart. Mario explains his dream to his brother Luigi, Princess Toadstool and Toad, who all agree to join Mario in his endeavor to free the people of the dreamland.
Super Mario Bros. 3: The Mushroom Kingdom is in shambles. Bowser has retaliated, gathered up his dark armies and defiled the seven regions of the kingdom by stealing the regents' magic wands and turning the world leaders into simple animals. To further exclamate his dark rule, he has granted his children, the seven Koopalings, possession of these magic wands, and kidnapped Princess Toadstool once again. Sounds like another task for everyone's favourite plumbers.

The Lost Levels. Yep, that's a flying Blooper.
All of the four games have undergone some major audiovisual overhauls. There are tons of juicy graphical details I won’t even start to go over. The first Super Mario Bros. game and The Lost Levels have naturally been graced with the most graphical changes and placed in consistency with the rest of the series. The music in all games is completely remixed and some new music has been added in as well, most notably to the title screens. The boss fights against Bowser – yep, the “King Koopa” name is dead and buried – now feature the background music from Super Mario Bros. 3’s final battle. The games are very recognizable, but still so different. Nintendo made some huge efforts to radically alter the look of the games but still keep the original flame alive.

Birdo's in 16 bits!
At first, it takes a little getting used to the SNES controls in case of NES games you’ve been playing for ages. We now have nine buttons instead of five, and the control scheme is modified to match that of Super Mario World. However, there are no changes to the characters’ original abilities or major, distracting changes in general. You can now save in each game, and dying doesn’t matter much, ‘cause you have unlimited continues and you can always start the stage you died in over. In Super Mario Bros. 2 (our game) the most notable change is that you can choose another character after each defeat. Most other changes to each game are purely audiovisual. The Lost Levels is a new game to us non-Japanese folk, so it seems like the only game there’s some sense to talk about.

At first, The Lost Levels seems like a carbon copy of the original Super Mario Bros., and therefore it makes perfect sense that the original game was never released outside Japan. However, the game gives no mercy. There’s not one single easy moment. It’s one of the most difficult games I’ve ever played, period. It’s totally unforgiving and the save feature doesn’t help a whole lot. Power-ups are very rare, and hard to reach, and among regular mushrooms, there are poisonous ones which kill you on contact. What separates the game from Super Mario Bros. even more is the fact there’s no multiplayer. You choose between Mario and Luigi, which might seem like a no-brainer decision, but Luigi does play out better than Mario in certain situations. This time he’s not identical to Mario – he’s notably taller and jumps higher and further than his flabbier brother, like in our version of Super Mario Bros. 2.
Still not as easy as it sounds like.

The Lost Levels
is mainly meant for players who want ultimate challenge. It’s a bit odd (flying Bloopers?!), inconsistent and thematically so close to the first game that it’s more of a curiosity than a truly fun game. Even if it’s the new game in town for us, I believe most people will get the collection for the vintage classics. If you’ve beaten every game included besides The Lost Levels, they shouldn’t be much of a challenge especially due to the save feature. The Lost Levels, however, will have your balls on a plate, assuming you have enough patience to carry on with it after the first few stages. I would’ve never beaten the game on the NES, that’s for sure. The saving indeed does not help too much, but it saves you a lot of time, and spares the ears of those around you.

Since there aren’t too many changes to the games besides those to graphics and sound, I think they’re best ranked separately, after the original ratings. The Lost Levels is a nice addition to a definitive collection, but simply too difficult regardless of the player’s age, and too damn close to Super Mario Bros. as far as gameplay and its goal are concerned, to be fully enjoyable.

Graphics : 9.1
Sound : 9.0
Playability : 8.8
Challenge : 9.5
Overall : 8.7 / 7.3 / 8.4 / 9.2


a.k.a. Super Mario Collection (JAP)

GameRankings: 90.12%

In December 1994, another version of the game was released, which also includes Super Mario World. This version of Super Mario World has been widely criticized due to the graphics, which are surprisingly inferior to those of the original game.

Like the original Super Mario Bros. 3, the enhanced remake here includes the multiplayer version of Mario Bros.. So technically, there are five Mario games on this single cartridge.

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