GAME REVIEW – Super Mario Brothers (NES)

It’s probably not really necessary to talk about Super Mario Brothers, the best selling video game of all time (around 40 million units sold) and a game featuring one of the most iconic character in the world. This is a video game that people can recognize even from hearing one sound effect from it. It’s a game that influenced renowned gaming gods such as Hideo Kojima, Shinji Mikami, etc. And best of all, the mere mention of this game invokes a sense of nostalgia, of the so-called golden age of gaming.
But I talk about this today because I’ve never owned an NES in my life and even so, this is one of the very few NES games I actually got to play. Also, this is one NES game that I did not play on an emulator or on a relreased port edition/collection but actually on my friend’s NES when I was fairly young. I never beat it of course but I remember enough of it to talk about this monumental and revolutionary game.

Thinking back, Super Mario Brothers is one of the craziest games I’ve ever played. A mushroom doubles the size of my protagonist Mario and a flower changes him into a cook that can shoot fire balls? Being big also allows Mario to break through bricks by headbutting through it. The craziest parts though has to be with the fact that Mario can enter through pipes by squatting down and enter a world of floating coins. It’s also fun to note that oddly, if you jump on a turtle shell, it acts like a pinball, bouncing off of anything it touches. It sure was one crazy game but for some odd reason, all of that stuck and remained memorable and enjoyable.

The names of the characters were fun and easy to say – Mario, Luigi, Bowser (or what I prefer, King Kooper), Princess Peach, Toad – and the Mario universe was a simple one, composed of bricks, pipes, clouds, castles, large trees, and whatnot. The music was even better and tied the entire feel of it rather nicely and I think all the soundtrack used in this game at the time was simply perfect. Even the gameover music is extremely memorable, which I think is an achievement that is far too easily overlooked by many people.

As stated, I’ve never beaten the game so I don’t really know what the later levels of the game look like but even as a kid, I loved what I saw, especially as I came to grab the mushroom or the fire flower upgrades. With jumping being so responsive and the levels so simple and really helpful in giving you a sense of what to do next and where to go, there was absolutely no reason to hate this game.

As a kid, I got really frustrated as I kept dying in Kooper’s castle with its moving fire obstacles but that had more to do with me being an awful gamer back then. The game gave me a lot of chances though, from mushrooms to flowers to invincibility stars to coins to earn a 1up. Even as a kid, the game had an encouraging tone of doability but at the same time, mixing in really interesting challenges even though I was doing nothing more than just jumping here and entering a pipe there. It was simple yet complex, and a truly revolutionizing masterpiece.

It’s a rather short game and I know this even though I only beat 4 of the game’s worlds because I had heard that the game has about 7 worlds or something like that. Still, its perfect design in all aspects – great visuals, memorable soundtrack, fluid controls, revolutionary yet really awesome mechanics such as the mushroom powerups – made this game’s replay value go off the charts. When I got a Gameboy as a teenager, the black-and-white portable rendition of the game was the first thing I looked for and that was the only game I owned for my Gameboy for a long time. But that was okay because I had no problem playing it over and over and over again.

Super Mario Brothers is really a timeless classic, a platformer to define what that genre is supposed to be, and a revolution to totally change the gaming industry. I didn’t realize it as a kid cause I was just mad that I was only given three lives to go through the hellish Kooper’s castle and all the death traps stored in there, but I look back now and just this one game really makes me wish I played way more NES and SNES games since so many of the old-school games were inevitably influenced by this monumental title.