Super Mario All-Stars
Super Mario All-Stars: One of the greatest games of all time!
The original Super Mario Bros. came out just over 25 years ago on the Nintendo Entertainment System. While many believe that that game and many of its follow-ups were timeless in their original incarnations, it took Nintendo less than eight years to remake it. In 1993, the developer revived, remade, and resold the plumber's entire NES oeuvre in a package called Super Mario All-Stars. In addition to the three U.S-released Super Mario Bros. games, the collection also served as the debut of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, the originally Japan-exclusive sequel to Super Mario Bros. that kept the same gameplay, graphics, and audio intact, but ramped the difficulty up significantly. 17 years later, and that same compilation is seeing new life once more — this time on the Nintendo Wii.
- These are some of the greatest games of all time; you can have multiple saves for each game; Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels' continue system is a bit more newb-friendly than its Virtual Console iteration.
- You can buy all four games on the Virtual Console for less; Super Mario Bros. and Lost Levels don't control quite as impeccably as they do on the Virtual Console; a true Mario compilation would have included his other non-Wii platformers and had a more robust selection of bonus material.
Given each game's availability on the Virtual Console, the absence of Mario's post-8-bit iterations, and the slapdash porting of SNES code, Super Mario All Stars' budget-priced compilation of some of the plumber's greatest adventures feels a bit overpriced at $39.
Price$ 39.00 (AUD)
Make no bones about it — Nintendo has done little to the SNES compilation aside from dumping the code onto a Wii disc. While 61 SNES games have come to the Wii by way of Nintendo's Virtual Console download service (most at $8 a pop), Nintendo has put this game on store shelves at about four times the price of a standard digital SNES release. Of course, one could argue that there are no other compilations on the Virtual Console, and that Super Mario All-Stars isn't a standard SNES release. Taking that tact, it would cost $21 to individually buy each of the 8-bit versions of the Super Mario All-Stars collection from the service.
On the game disc, there's not really much that's worth the extra nine bucks. The souped-up 16-bit visuals aren't as endearing as each game's original style — in fact, the games look almost too similar when given the visual upgrades. The first two releases (Super Mario Bros. and The Lost Levels) actually feel a bit sluggish when played with the new overlay — I went back and found the games to be much more responsive in their original incarnations. It's very slight, and it may be affected by the dozens of hours I've spent on the original NES version of Super Mario Bros., but the Virtual Console versions may feel more natural to folks more experienced with the games in their original formats. If you can handle it, though, there's a bit of incentive to play through the first two games in particular, since the formerly uniform, "But our Princess is in another Castle!" scenes actually play out differently after each castle stage. One of the major selling points for Super Mario All-Stars when it released on the SNES (saving your progress within each game) has largely been negated, as, in step with other Virtual Console releases, the Wii's flash memory allows you to stop and start NES games at your leisure. It should be mentioned, however, that in the first two games, you still have the slight benefit of starting over at your current stage when you run out of lives. If you get a "Game Over" on one of the Virtual Console versions, you'll be booted back to the first stage of the world you were on. In most cases, it's not too harmful, but the later stages in The Lost Levels can be pretty grueling.
The other benefit to buying these games at retail is the bonus "Super Mario History" disc. Inside the case is a 20-track CD featuring the first stage themes from the nine console-based Super Mario titles (and New Super Mario Bros. on the DS), as well as ten of the most familiar sound effects and music cues from the original game. Accompanying the CD is a 32-page Super Mario History booklet. Inside, franchise luminaries Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka, and Koji Kondo reminisce about the aforementioned ten titles with a brief one-sentence summation of their experience with each game. Alongside their memories are box replications, screen shots, and concept art pieces from the franchise's history. Reading the brief interjections from the forefathers of the franchise provides all-too-fleeting insight into the series — the trio is able to get a lot across in their allotted single sentences, but the pages could have incorporated a lot more text. Granted, it's a booklet and not meant to be the definitive text for the Mario franchise, but this text-light, graphic-heavy style seems like it would be best fit for something like a spread in USA Today.
Hardcore Super Mario fans no doubt know that the collection could have had more value, but they've likely already picked up the game based on the nostalgia factor alone. I know, because I'm one of them (I've also spent $20 on the Game Boy Advance rerelease of Super Mario Bros., so I've subjected myself to even worse deals). The other crowd that will probably purchase this collection is the Wii owners that have enjoyed the plumber's other Wii adventures, but aren't internet-savvy enough to plumb the depth of the Wii Shop Channel. The middle ground — gamers who respect the franchise, but aren't exactly fanboys for it (Genesis owners, I'm looking at you) — should be aware that the collection is a few bucks too high (or a few games too short) of being a worthwhile purchase. If you fall into any of these groups, know that there are other ways to experience each of these games that are much friendlier to your wallet, but only if you're willing to forgo the nostalgic flourishes.
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