The release of Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition might be a superfluous release for some Nintendo fans out there, but for this Mario fan it’s a welcomed release. The NES was my first console and I owned all of these games at the time (minus The Lost Levels, as it was never released in the States), but when the Nintendo 64 was released I saw a way to make some money to put towards that console’s purchase, so I sold my NES and all the games I had; it’s one mistake I still regret. So when I saw Nintendo was releasing a repackaged version of Super Mario All-Stars for the Wii I jumped at the chance to own these wonderful games again.
Therein lies the problem with Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition what I would imagine to be a somewhat relatively small window of gamers to sell this to. If you weren’t an idiot like me and still own your original copies, there’s probably not a need for you to buy this game (unless your NES is close to death and/or you wanted the original Mario with the new graphics and the inclusion of The Lost Levels if you never played it). Furthermore, these games have come out on a variety of platforms already, including the SNES (the Limited Edition is practically just the same game ported over), Nintendo handhelds, and the Wii’s own Virtual Console. So when you look at it that way, the only people I can see buying this are those who no longer have the games/console(s), those who missed out the first time or are discovering the Mario series for the first time, or those completionists who need everything Mario. Still, if you fall into one of those categories, you’re still getting one great compilation package.
First up is Super Mario Bros the original classic that started it all. The game has held up well over the years and I still find parts of it quite challenging. You don’t have to complete the game in one run anymore either, as the game lets you save your progress after every world completed. The only annoyance I have is that there is no option to play the game with the original graphical settings as they appeared back on the NES. Instead, players are forced to play the graphically enhanced SNES version, which uses upgraded sprites. Why couldn’t Nintendo at least have given us the ability to play whichever we wanted? Luckily, the placement of objects and the environments are unchanged, so at least they’re faithful in that regard. Super Mario Bros also features multiplayer, as two players can alternate playing turns to see who can do things like get the farthest or score the most points.
Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels is next and it’s what was actually considered Super Mario Bros 2 over in Japan. The game was never released in the United States because of the levels being much more challenging than the original game, which is why Super Mario Bros 2 to us is a whole different game. For those wanting a challenge, The Lost Levels certainly delivers. I expected the game to be like the original game, where the intensity and challenge gradually ramps up, but I found myself facing some tricky obstacles on the first world alone. Plus, with the inclusion of Luigi as a second playable character (he can jump higher than Mario, but slides more), you can fully play this game with both characters to maximize your gaming potential. The formula hasn’t really changed, but a new poison mushroom has been introduced, which can either straight-up kill you if you’re already tiny Mario, or will shrink you down if you’re Super Mario or Fire Mario. The Lost Levels is also one of the two games included on this disc that doesn’t feature any multiplayer.
Super Mario Bros 2 is the sequel most gamers will be familiar with, as it’s the first sequel that was actually released in the States. By using a bit of trickery, Nintendo actually took the Japanese only game Doki Doki Panic, replaced its heroes with Mario regulars, and left everything else the same; a tactic that was just similarly done with Kirby’s Epic Yarn, as Kirby was shoehorned in later when Nintendo saw the chance to make a new Kirby game by just changing a few things up. Super Mario Bros 2 introduced a lot of new enemies (since this was a different game to begin with) and even boss fights. In addition, Nintendo also allowed players to use one of four different characters (Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad), who each played differently from each other. Besides having different jump heights (heck, Peach could even fly/hover), they also have different jump heights when carrying objects, different run speeds, different run speeds when carrying items, and each one uproots items at different speeds. Players were also able to pick items up for the first time, play bonus games, and use a wide variety of different power-ups. Much like The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros 2 is a single-player only game.
Finally we come to the crown jewel and arguably the best Mario game of all-time: Super Mario Bros 3. Super Mario Bros 3 took elements from Super Mario Bros 2, but adapted them so that it felt much more like a natural progression of the series. For example, the idea of boss battles carried over, as Mario has to contend with Bowser’s children before ever going face-to-face with Bowser. The game was also very difficult and challenging, as anyone who has played the floating fortress levels can attest to. Super Mario Bros 3 also introduced what’s now somewhat of a staple of the Mario series suits. The game included the Frog Suit (allowed Mario to swim faster in water), Tanooki Suit (turn into an invulnerable statue), and the Hammer Suit (Mario turns into a Hammer Brother and throwswellhammers). We also can’t forget one of the best power-ups of all time the Super Leaf that gave Mario a raccoon’s tail so that he could run and fly. Super Mario Bros 3 also features the most robust multiplayer mode of this package, as two players take turns playing the game whenever a level is completed or a life is lost. The object is to beat your friend and get the farthest in the game, but you can also battle it out in a Battle Game, which acts like the old arcade Mario in a way. By collecting enough coins the quickest, players have the chance to surpass their friend and take another turn even if they just went.
Since all of these games were designed around a directional pad and two buttons, the Wii remote held sideways is in my opinion the ideal way to play these games. For those who might not enjoy that feel as it obviously features a different feel and weight than the old NES pad, players can also use either the Wii’s Classic Controller or Gamecube pad. As part of the Limited Edition package, you also get a 20-track CD spanning the history of the music used in the Mario games, and a pretty nice booklet showing game timelines, original sketches of characters and levels, and short sentences on many of the games Mario has been in. Given this is a 25th anniversary package, however, I feel the booklet could have been more robust, or could’ve been transitioned into a DVD with more extras, footage, and commentary from those involved in the making of Mario. For the four games, soundtrack, and extras you do get, it’s hard to disagree with the game’s friendly $29.99 price tag.
So here’s the bottom line of this whole review. Do you own the bulk of these games already and can easily and safely play them on the console of choice and expect you can for the rest of your life? If you answered yes to that question then there’s no reason for you to pick this game up. For everyone else, I highly recommend running out and grabbing this game, as it is a Limited Edition and already proving hard to obtain in some places. Despite all these years later, this collection of four Mario games still stand the test of time, and show why Mario has rightfully held the title of Nintendo mascot for as long as he has.
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