Mario Bros.

Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 1986
Genre: Static Platformer
(Not to be confused with Super Mario Bros.)

We’ve already spoken of the origin of Mario and the glory that is Super Mario Bros., so it seems almost redundant (or ill-placed) that the prequel should come after the original, and yet – here we are, looking at Mario Bros., the game that introduced Segale’s digital doppelgänger to the world.

But did very little for the state of Nintendo's sorry title screens.
But did very little for the state of Nintendo’s sorry title screens.

First thing to put on the table in this discussion of Mario: this game, like many early Nintendo games, was originally an arcade game, necessitating it being imported to the NES. Super Mario Bros., meanwhile, was always intended as an exclusive Nintendo title, and so did not have to go through any sort of porting process. In the end, Donkey Kong and Mario Bros., both games that preceded Super Mario Bros. in introducing the character, were released on Nintendo AFTER Mario Bros. Just to set the record straight: Donkey Kong came first (in which Mario was just Jumpman) followed by Mario Bros (the game that  introduced Luigi, explicitly gave Mario his name and made them ceiling-punching plumbers) and then Super Mario Bros. (the game that looks like it was made under the influence of psychedelic drugs).

This is me grabbing the last coin in a bonus stage with exactly 0 seconds to spare. It serves no purpose in this review. Go me!
This is me grabbing the last coin in a bonus stage with exactly 0 seconds to spare. It serves no purpose in this review. Go me!

In this game, you take the role of Mario and/or Luigi (both can play at once – hooray for simultaneous multiplayer!) working what is, presumably, their first plumbing job. The game takes place in an absurdly spacious sewer, where pests all try to murder you while you try to flip them on their backs and counter-murder them. If you leave an enemy flipped on their back too long, they get back up to go TURBO SPEED* at you!

It's a veritable rainbow coalition of things that want to fuck up Mario's shit!
It’s a veritable rainbow coalition of things that want to fuck up Mario’s shit!

There are a grand total of six varieties of enemies, consisting of turtles, crabs, giant flies, ice faces and the two varieties of fireballs. Each has a unique movement style and appearance. While that might not seem like a lot, I’ll argue it’s generally more than the number of distinct enemies in a typical modern first person shooter. (Is that a terrorists, a more different terrorist, a sneaky terrorist or a terrorist wearing armor? What variety!)

However, this game, sadly, doesn’t boast much in the line of replay value. Mario Bros. is a static platformer game, so don’t expect to see much variety in the levels. The layout does not change, unless you count the wearing down of the beloved POW block in the middle, and only the aesthetics of the floors vary between levels. Every once in a while, mind you, the typical progression of things is interrupted by a bonus stage where you get to frantically run about after coins, but in general the enemy’s patterns remain predictable, the action never truly gets frantic, and the whole thing just starts looping around somewhere around level 29 as far as I can tell.

John’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0. Not only does this game have the nostalgia factor inherent in being one of the very first arcade games I ever played**, but, frankly, it’s mindless sometimes frustrating fun, and sometimes that’s exactly what I look for in a game.

* I am aware that turtles, flies and crabs are not, in fact, fish, but – c’mon – when else am I going to get to use the Turbo Fish tag? The answer is, of course, whenever possible.
** The first was, I am told, Dig Dug, although I don’t recall it, and the first I recall playing is Journey at the semi-local YMCA. You could not have lived without that information, I know.


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