Mario Still a Winner

With all the fuss Nintendo’s made over the silver anniversary of its mustachioed mascot, you’d think it would’ve led to something a bit more noteworthy than a blast from the past like “Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition,” a retrospective of Mario’s NES days which itself turned up back in 1993. Yes, the Super Nintendo cartridge that came with four games is interchangeable with what you get on the Wii, right down to the graphics Nintendo updated 17 years ago but wouldn’t bother cleaning up again in 2010. If you want to get technical about it, you might actually be getting less – some versions of the Super Nintendo favorite had a fifth game thrown in, making the $29.99 price tag for the Wii redux look steeper still. Heck, the damned thing doesn’t even come with “Duck Hunt.”

Still, even if Nintendo doesn’t get an A for effort, it’s hard to think of another game company with as many laurels to rest on, or one with such impressive origins. The first major entries in the “Mario” franchise not only wound up becoming some of the best-known titles in gaming history, but helped bring Nintendo into living rooms around the world, a phenomenon that turned video games from arcade curios into household obsessions. It isn’t difficult to understand why – in 1985’s “Super Mario Bros.,” all those mismatched enemies and secret passages gave people a better idea of what the medium was capable of at a time when the most exciting game around was “Pac-Man.”

The franchise took a sharp turn in 1988 with “Super Mario Bros. 2,” which wasn’t so much a “Mario” game as it was an entirely different game with Mario edited in. Two years later, the series hit its peak – on the NES, anyway – with “Super Mario Bros. 3,” a ne-plus-ultra affair complete with treasure maps and miniboss ambushes, and whistles that jump you to another level, and leaves that cause you to grow a raccoon tail which gives you the power to fly, and…

If you have no idea of what any of this means, maybe “Super Mario All-Stars” is just what you need to catch up on 25 years of thumb-blistering fun. While the fourth game, a Japanese import called “Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels,” is more a serviceable oddity than a childhood treasure, the other three were the bedrock for what would be the biggest thing to come out of Japan since Godzilla. In that light, maybe Nintendo should’ve thrown in more bells and whistles than a bonus CD with music from the series. Besides, who can’t remember Mario’s theme song?

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About David Guzman 207 Articles
I just received my degree in journalism at Brooklyn College, where I served as the arts editor for one of the campus newspapers, the Kingsman. When it comes to the arts, I’ve managed to cover a variety of subjects, including music, films, books and art exhibitions. I’ve reviewed everything from “Slumdog Millionaire” (which was a good film) to “Coraline,” (which wasn’t) and I’ve also interviewed legendary film critic Leonard Maltin.

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