Super Mario All-Stars (SNES)
Genre: Platformer - Publisher: Nintendo - Release Year: 1993 - For: Super NES (SNES)
14 reviews from the community
Review of "Super Mario All-Stars (SNES)"
Here lies 16BitFlash, idiot with penchant for old games and movies
The path of the videogame compilation is one that is littered with many pitfalls; while in theory a good idea, combining multiple games into one value package that often offers a collective look at a series’ history; they are a sub-genre of games that are littered with a history of poor emulation, strange choices and omissions. While I had encountered compilations of games on Sega’s Megadrive, such as their Mega-Games series of pack-in games, but Super Mario All-Stars was the first compilation of its type, providing a series retrospective to date, that I was exposed to. The funny thing was, the NES was still fairly popular in the UK around the time of release, and as such a compilation of games that you could still actually pick up relatively cheaply themselves seemed a bit pointless.Collecting Super Mario Bros. and it’s 2 sequels, the real appeal in All-Stars lay in the fact it included what it labelled ‘Super Mario: The Lost Levels’ which was actually the game Japan knew as Super Mario Bros. 2. Confused? Considering its status as the most mainstream of mainstream games, the history of the Super Mario series is actually quite an interesting one. The first game was a smash hit internationally, and quickly became the main selling point of the Nintendo Entertainment System console. Quickly crafting a sequel similar to the first game, Japan’s Super Mario Bros. 2 played very similar to its predecessor, but with a fairly steep increase in difficulty. So daunting was this step up that Nintendo of America decided against bringing it to the States. Yet at the same time they wanted a Mario sequel, so Doki Doki Panic, a Japan only platform game based on a local tv show was found and the sprites replaced by established Super Mario characters and unleashed upon an unsuspecting public.
Reviewing a game that contains 4 in one is a somewhat strange task to undertake in itself, because drafting up full length reviews of all 4 titles included, as well as an overview, is something I’ve no real desire to write up any more than you have to read in one sitting. Thankfully 3 of the 4 games contained within this cartridge are fairly similar, which makes describing it a whole lot easier.It’s hard to imagine that there are people who haven’t played, or are at least familiar with the Super Mario Bros. franchise, but for those whom that does apply to I’ll explain. Super Mario Bros. sees you take control of Mario, the Italian plumber made famous in Nintendo’s arcade game Donkey Kong, as you negotiate your way from one end of a level to the end, where you must leap onto a flag. Every so often you must storm a Castle to take on a boss character in your quest to stop the evil Bowser who has kidnapped the Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom.
In your path is a variety of jump-based puzzles, enemies and power-ups that you access by jumping into the bottom of prize-blocks marked with a ‘?’ which range from coins (100 collected equals an extra life) mushrooms, which make you grow to a larger size, and grant an extra hit of damage that can be absorbed and the Fire Flower, which grants you the ability to shoot fireballs.Super Mario Bros. is platform gaming at its most simplistic and pure, and there’s a high chance pretty much every game you’ve ever seen or played in the genre is based around its basic formula. Super Mario Bros. was very much the quintessential platform game, easy to pick up and get to grips with, but with some wickedly challenging levels. It’s no exaggeration to say it was an instant smash, and pretty much overnight cemented its status as one of the most iconic videogames ever. I’ve never met anyone who dislikes Super Mario Bros, some may not like it as much as others, but it’s a game that doesn’t have a great deal, if anything, wrong with it, the only flaws, if you want to call them that, being technical limitations of the time. Pretty much all the conventions of the genre begin here, from the obligatory underwater and lava levels to the collections of items to gain extra lives.
The game had a 2-Player mode that allowed a second player to control Mario’s brother Luigi, taking turn about to try progress through the game’s levels. Personally I was never a fan of this way of working multiplayer, but then I was the little brother forced to play as Luigi for years!Now, given it’s the most radical departure from the formula, I’ll come back to Mario 2 later on, The Lost Levels carried much the game gameplay and design as the first game, but as mentioned earlier, it faces quite a strong hike in difficulty from its predecessor. It also sees the addition, quite fittingly, of Poison mushrooms that kill you upon touch. The main change in pace comes from the removal of the 2-Player mode, instead letting you choose between Mario and Luigi who play slightly differently. 32 levels in length, spread across 8 worlds, The Lost Levels legendary savage difficulty is very real, and completely warranting its reputation. As arguably the main selling point of the game to die-hard Mario fans, it is certainly a lot easier than trying to get your hands on an imported Japanese Famicom (the NES name in its native isle) Disk system and a copy of the game. For casual fans, it probably is a bit too tough to take on, although trying to meet the challenge is something I’d say is almost a rite of passage for Nintendo fans.
Super Mario Bros. 3 is a take the simple base introduced in the first game, and instead of amping up the difficulty to insane levels, instead opted to introduce subtle improvements to proceedings such as a wide variety of new powerups that granted you flight, greater swimming prowess, invulnerability to ground spikes amongst others. It also introduced a nice overworld map that let you choose your route, albeit in most cases it was a linear path, there were diversions you could take in some cases, as well as secret paths and levels that could be accessed from it. Mario 3 also saw the return of the 2-Player mode, which once again saw me relegated to Luigi.Super Mario Bros. 3 done something that wasn’t really thought possible at the time, and took what seemed like a perfect game and stepped it up to a new level. While it took the expected steps of upping the ante in terms of presentation, it really did make great strides in terms of gameplay, introducing features that actually enhanced gameplay and didn’t come across gimmicky. Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of those few games I’d actually class as perfect, with a good length, difficulty curve and perfect, responsive controls. Truth be told, if you don’t have a NES, Mario 3 is worth the admission price in itself.
The big side-step of the series is the international release of Super Mario Bros. 2. While Doki Doki Panic, the game it is built from, is a colourful platform game set in a cartoon world, and its makers were probably inspired by Super Mario Bros, that’s really where the similarities end. Super Mario Bros. and all its ‘true’ sequels are responsible for the platform convention of jumping on enemies heads to kill them. Mario 2 takes quite a different approach, where if you jump on an enemy’s head instead of killing them, he will walk about with you on top. At this point you can pull a switch and lift him above your head and carry him, with the only way to dispose of him being to throw him into another enemy. This might sound like a minor change, but realistically it is a pretty jarring switch, which coupled with the game’s 4 playable characters, which include Princess Peach and Toad the mushroom man in addition to the Mario brothers themselves, who all have different running and jumping abilities, makes it very much the black sheep of the family.Mario 2 is by no means a bad game, it’s actually quite playable if looked at independently from the series, it just doesn’t sit right, especially when placed, as it is here, sandwiched between the 2 most iconic and classic entries into the series.
Besides the inclusion of The Lost Levels, the main selling points of All-Stars were the ‘remastering’ of these games. As such they each received a major graphical and sonic overhaul to bring them up to speed with the 16-Bit era. Needless to say the first game sees the biggest difference, with a huge shift in quality. With that said, I always enjoyed the blocky visuals of the first game, which really did work well with the limitations of the time. It almost seems wrong looking at it remade with 16-Bit visuals, like the Star Wars films when they went back and edited over the special effects with CGI. The visuals of the latter games aren’t quite as drastic in terms of the leap, but they are noticeably better in most cases.Likewise the music is now rendered in a much higher quality. The soundtrack, especially for the first game, is arguably one of most famous in all of videogames. I can almost guarantee you know the main theme, even if you don’t know what it is. While, as with the visuals, it almost seems wrong listening to the main Mario theme in anything but the basic beeps and clicks the NES presented it with, listening to it through the much cleaner SNES sound capabilities is pretty awesome, especially given how Super Mario World never came close to matching it.
With that said, arguably the biggest benefit that All-Stars adds is also the least intrusive. In a really nice, potential game changer, All-Stars introduces a save feature allowing you 4 save slots per game. It sounds like a silly thing in this day and age, but in comparison to trying to best these games in one sitting, particularly when it comes to The Lost Levels, a save feature is a godsend.The funny thing about Super Mario All-Stars, is that looking back at it over 20 years on it probably serves a greater purpose now than it ever did at the time. Collecting these games in one convenient package is an undeniably great deal, especially when the first and third games are as magnificent as they are. It is hard to try and give a rating for a title like this, but given I’d class Super Mario Bros. and the 3rd game as worth 5 stars each on their own, it really is the only way to go, even if I’m not the biggest fan of Super Mario Bros. 2.
For a Nintendo fan looking to legitimately play all of these games on a console and not emulated, it’s the most cost effective and safe way of getting them all in one place. You can pick up the game for £15 unboxed if Cex stock it, and copies trade for between £15-£25 on eBay, which may seem steep, but bear in mind it does contain 4 full length games, and is significantly cheaper than trying to pick up copies of the first 3 games on the NES, as well as the aforementioned issues getting The Lost Levels outside of Japan. Figure in the fact that the NES is lot less reliable a system than the SNES and it almost seems a no-brainer. All-Stars takes 2 absolutely fantastic games, one ok one and an oddity that series fans will want to test themselves against and places them all on one handy cartridge, and it’s hard to argue with that.
Product Information : Super Mario All-Stars (SNES)
Manufacturer's product descriptionGenre: Platformer - Publisher: Nintendo - Release Year: 1993 - For: Super NES (SNES)
Release Year: 1993
Platform: Super NES (SNES)
Listed on Ciao since: 27/06/2000