With the success of the Nintendo Famicom System in Japan, Nintendo wanted to expand upon their popularity by releasing the Nintendo Entertainment System—or NES—to the United States of America. It was then when America was introduced to what would become the most innovational video game console for many years to come.
While the graphics and sound quality of the NES games pale in comparison to what today’s games can do, back then the NES was truly an amazing piece of hardware. Launch titles released for it were Gyromite, Duck Hunt, Excitebike, and—best of all—SuperBros.
After four years of being a star on arcade systems, the Game-and-Watch portable systems, and Atari consoles, Mario—everyone’s favorite Italian plumber—is introduced on a whole new home console. After four years of remaining vague in the eyes of society, Mario and his world finally caught our attention with Super Mario Bros.
Normally the plots in 1980’s video games come off as either very simple or cheesy—and Super Mario Bros. is no exception. You play as a plumber named Mario—and it’s up to your to save Princess Toadstool (or Peach) from the clutches of an evil dragon-turtle hybrid by the name of King Koopa (or Bowser).
Mario has to travel through 8 worlds of platforming goodness—each of which come with multiple tastes of King Koopa’s followers. The types of enemies you’ll run into are Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Hammer Bros, Bullet Bills, Piranhas Plants, Buzzy Beatles, Lakitus, Cheep Cheeps, and Bloopers.
After going through 32 levels—4 levels per each of the 8 worlds—you run into King Koopa himself and rescue the princess at last. After which she’ll give you the option to go into the game’s hard mode. The hard mode is nothing more than enemy replacements and additions.
For a game in 1985, there was just nothing like Super Mario Bros. The physics, graphics, and overall experience brought gamers into a new dimension. Even I was entranced by this game when I first played it in 2000.
The way Mario plays is through momentum-based side-scrolling levels. What I mean by Mario’s momentum-based gameplay style is that he will pick up speed the second you push right or left on the D-pad. Letting go, however, will not result in an immediate halt. Instead, Mario will keep walking until he loses momentum.
In addition to momentum, we also get a very controllable jump. Unlike the stiff jump given to Pitfall Harry and many other characters of the likeness, Mario’s jump can actually be implemented in midair. Because his main method of attack is by jumping on enemies (by pushing the A button), a controllable jump is mandatory to keep from making the game any more difficult than it already is.
As you progress though Super Mario Bros., you’ll find several bottomless pits to avoid, coins to collect (100 of them grant you an extra life), and plenty of power-ups. Among the power-ups are red mushrooms, which make Mario grow in size; fire flowers, which let you shoot fireballs with a push of the B button; green mushrooms, which give you another life; and super stars, which grant temporary invincibility. You’ll always find these kinds of power-ups in bricks scattered across the levels—bricks you’ll have to hit from below.
Without these power-ups, the slightest touch from any enemy or obstacle will kill Mario in his tiny, vulnerable form. With power-ups, however, Mario can take an extra hit before dying—except in the case of green mushrooms. This being said, you’re almost guaranteed a game over if you constantly skip past the power-ups.
If there are any problems I would note with Super Mario Bros., I would say the controls could have done better with some tweaks. Like I said earlier, Mario will gain momentum as he walks. Therefore, some sections can prove very difficult if you’re trying to scale across tiny platforms while at full speed. As a result, those who like to scale through platformers at top speed—like me—should prepare their reflexes to the max.
For those who want to enjoy some co-op action, you have the option to bring along a second player and go into a 2-player game. The first person plays as Mario while the second plays as his brother, Luigi--who is merely a clone of Mario with a different color pattern. Rather than simply play at the same time, the two players alternate whenever one of the brothers die. This being the case, you'll have to wait a very long time before being able to play if you decide to go into co-op with me!
In the end Super Mario Bros. became Nintendo’s key to popularity. Not only did it gross 40 million sales worldwide, but it set the basis for millions of video games to come. After its release, thousands of games tried to copy and paste everything that made Super Mario Bros. great—but only ended up failing to meet all the goals Mario set up.
Super Mario Bros. became a milestone for entertainment for decades to come—and still remains popular today. To summarize, many franchises in all forms have benefitted from the inspiration Nintendo has created. And we all have Super Mario Bros. to thank.
These days if you want to buy Super Mario Bros., you can do so with an NES cartridge, the port in Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES, the copy on the Wii’s virtual console, on the Wii port of Super Mario All-Stars, or even on the many ports made for Nintendo’s portable devices. Or—if you’re into PC gaming—try out the port at http://www.free80sarcade.com/supermariob