Super Mario Bros. & Super Mario Bros. 2 - Does It Hold Up?
I don't own a 3DS (yet), and it pains me that I can't play Super Mario 3D Land. That game looks like something I would enjoy, and it seems to be yet another great Mario platformer. Because I can't play the game, I decided to revisit some classics to see how well they withstood the test of time. My journey back in time begins here with a look back at Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES. Now, you probably know that these two games hold up well, but what makes them so relevant even today?
Super Mario Bros. (NES)
The original Super Mario Bros. was the first video game I ever played, and I'm really glad I got started with such a great title. I played that game for hours as a kid, and for me, it didn't get much better than that. Well, that is until I played Super Mario Bros. 3, but we'll discuss that in a future edition of Does It Hold Up? Back when I was four years old, Super Mario Bros. was addictive, ingenious, and amazing. It was a great game that I revisited many a time, and I was glad to give it one more go recently for the purpose of this write-up.
Now, a lot of what makes Super Mario Bros. so special is its unrelenting nostalgia. These days, it brings back memories of those awesome evenings when I'd sit in front of the TV playing the game from start to finish. Aside from those memories there's a game that just plays freaking great, even today. Yes, the game encompasses the very basics of what the platformer genre is all about, but it does these basics justice by offering pure, unadulterated fun. And I don't know about you, but when I play a game, I do it because it's fun.
The thing that really stands out to me about Super Mario Bros. is that I know the game incredibly well, yet it still intimidates me. I know every shortcut, every hidden block, and the locations of every strong enemy, but the game still poses a challenge. It's not as daunting as I was when I was a kid, but it's tough, and it's impressive. You know a game's special when even after 20 years of playing, it still manages to challenge you more than many of today's top titles.
As far as the game's graphics and sound are concerned, Super Mario Bros. is almost minimalistic in its design. Sure, back in the '80s it was a graphical powerhouse, but today, the presentation of Super Mario Bros. is aesthetically charming, much like the many indie games that it has inspired. The one aspect of the game I would have to say holds up the least would probably be the low number of songs. But really, that's just nitpicking.
These days, Super Mario Bros. is a very basic package when compared to all of the modern games that have managed to astound us. But when you think about how this title pretty much saved the gaming industry and influenced so many developers and games, there's no way I can say the game doesn't hold up.
The verdict: Super Mario Bros. holds up amazingly well, whether you're playing it to relive old memories or just want to enjoy a great 2D platformer.
Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)
OK, let's get the whole "This isn't the real Super Mario Bros. 2" criticism out of the way before we continue on here. Ready? OK! Just like Zelda II was a great departure for that franchise, Super Mario Bros. 2 presented a completely different take on the Mario series. North Americans unknowingly ate the game up and entered the strange world of Subcon. And what a world it was! There were no Goombas, Koopas, or Bowser here. And don't even think about collecting a Fire Flower. Super Mario Bros. 2 was a surreal experience for fans of the fledgling series.
When you think about it, "surreal" is a fitting word, because the whole game takes place in Mario's dreams. After revisiting this particular world once more, I have to say that I kind of want Nintendo to do something in a New Super Mario Bros. 2 light. Seriously, the rich art style and quirky music heard throughout this title are remarkable, and they definitely stand out. Everything looks a lot brighter and more detailed than the original Super Mario Bros., and while that game is pleasingly minimalistic these days, Super Mario Bros. 2 looks and sounds surprisingly stylish and charming.
In terms of gameplay, this pseudo Mario sequel is fun and just as challenging as the original. That said, the fact that you can play as Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach really gives the game a nice layer of depth. Each character controls differently, and they suit different play styles. If you want to jump really high for example, Luigi has you covered. Want to float in the air? Peach can do just that using her dress to defy gravity. Then there's Toad who's not only fast but can pluck vegetables out of the ground much quicker than his buddies. And Mario, well, he's an all-around guy.
Another thing I really like about Super Mario Bros. 2 is the variety. Each of the worlds looks significantly different than the last, and the boss battles are great. Personally, I'd much rather be taking on a different boss at the end of each world than facing Goombas posing as Bowser and rescuing Toad over and over again. The ability to pick enemies up and the game's weird power-ups also make Super Mario Bros. 2 stand out, not only as something different from the rest of the series, but as something special.
The verdict: Super Mario Bros. 2 may have been a deceitful game because it wasn't the real Mario sequel, but its variety and colorful worlds make it worth playing. It's an excellent game, even if it is a big, fat lie.