Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo 64 games
Newest Review: ... and 4 hidden worlds. The hidden worlds were unlocked by beating the game 8 times in a row o.O . Though this was changed in the allstars ... more
One of the best value titles ever released
Super Mario All-Stars (N64)
Member Name: Murf!
Super Mario All-Stars (N64)
Date: 29/07/01, updated on 29/07/01 (894 review reads)
Advantages: Will last absolutely ages, hugely entertaining, no weak part of the compilation
Disadvantages: TTL can be fustrating
Super Mario Bros. is one of the most influencial games ever; maybe only less so than Pong - the very first video game. It wasn't the first platform game, but it was the one that formed the basic structure of platform games today. With Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto crafted the concept of jumping on enemies' heads to kill them off, and equally importantly, the idea of a scrolling level. I'm sure there was some obscure C64 or ZX81 game that had these features before SMB did (there is always an obscure game that no-one's heard of that came up with a concept credited to something else), but I don't know it. The whole concept of jumping on an enemy has barely changed since, and it is half of what makes a platformer just that. Maybe the advancement to scrolling levels opposed to single-screen levels was merely a matter of time, but SMB got there first (I think).
OK, so the game was made in the early 1980s, so in the same way that old comedians look absolutely crap now, some aspects of the game have dated. For a start, the structure of the game is linear: you always head right. Also it could be criticised for the simple way the levels must be played in - you must, with the exception of a few warps, go through the levels in a specific order. These probably were due in part to Nintendo's basic knowledge of NES at the time: with every console, as time passes, coders can get more and more performance out of the same machine. The level-skipping warp probably was Nintendo's attempt at lowering the linearity of the game but it is just not enough.
But don't think that these things automatically kill off the game: this is Nintendo we are talking about, so the gameplay is obviously strong. Despite the limited structure of the levels, some skilled level design compensates well. Something Nintendo have lost completely now is that they used to be capable of challenging games. SMB is a perfect example, although the difficulty level has been dampened for this SNES re-release, as you get 5 lives opposed to 3 and you can also save. Don't think the game is easy because of this though... Naturally, the difficulty curve is absolutely perfect, getting gradually harder and harder and introducing new ideas as the game progresses. There are quite a few levels to get through.
On the subject of SNES re-release, they've naturally improved the presentation significantly. The graphics, while not comparible to even Nintendo's later work on SNES, are a vast improvement on NES version, looking as they do far sharper and more detailed. As for sound, I don't think NES could've produced tunes to the standard of this release, but I can't be certain as it has been... ooh, a good 5 years since I played NES version. The addition of saves is welcome to say the least, too: the original suffered from the dreaded "DAMN! I've just lost my last life playing against the last boss and so I won't bother with it again for weeks" syndrome, although the warps helped a little here.
Few people know this, but Super Mario Bros. 2 wasn't originally a Mario game: basically all Nintendo of America did was to put in Mario and friends as the sprites. The game was actually a Nintendo production called Doki Doki Panic. Because of this, SMB2 feels different to the other Mario games. You don't actually bounce on enemies to kill, them for instance: you need to throw stuff at them; other enemies, for example.
Unfortunately, the themes of the levels are not very original: a grassy world, a
desert world, a world in the sky... I don't remember a slippy ice world thank God. The actual content of the levels are fairly predictable too, but the levels do not get boring for some reason. This is something that reviewers hate: unoriginal levels with repetitive contents... that are fun and do not tire after a while, as there is no obvious explanation for why the game plays well. Because of this, I will plump for that reviewing cop-out: to say that the game has the amazing and mysterious ingredient X: that which is good but it is hard to say why. SMB2 has a lot of ingredient X. One thing that I can pin-point as a plus point in the game: it is very polished (another reviewing cliché...) - the characters have a nice 'smooth' feel to them which is similar to the way Mario handles in Mario World.
The graphics and sound have been given a new lick of paint, and the game certainly looks better than the original as the sprites are bigger than before and more detailed. As with the original, the presentation is only good compared to the original NES games: compared to many other later SNES releases, SMB2 doesn't look very impressive.
I am not sure whether NES game had saves or not, but if it didn't, I feel sorry for anyone who had to complete it in one go. It is not the longest game ever, but it does last fairly long. It is easier than the other Mario games, but don't expect to rush through it. I remember the last world being particularly nasty, even though the last boss had an AI flaw you could exploit - stand behind him. He never figures it out.
One feature I liked at first was the choice of characters you get: this could have brought some strategy into the game. It didn't. Although they all have different strengths and weaknesses, the Princess is far better than the rest as she can float for a few seconds. Nice to see her do something more constructive than get caught by Bowser AGAIN I suppose...
the success of the previous Mario games, it was innevitable that the character that started as being 'Carpenter Man', who only changed into Mario when an observer said that the character resembled an Italian plumber, would spawn sequels. And he did, with out of all the dozens of games bearing his name, this instalment is my favourite. It plays similarly to the original, but there are some major improvements.
Firstly, a small step has been made here to avoid the linearity of the original, although not to the extent of Super Mario World, where you can choose the route you take through the game to a large extent. What this means is that you sometimes get a choice of levels, or an item that opens up an alternative route. As well as items that open up new routes, there are also items that give you new abilities, like the ultra-sute frog suit, which makes you a far better swimmer. These add to the variety, as well as making you wonder what's next.
The levels are less simply structured than before, too. Levels now go up, down and left sometimes, and some levels are for instance, partially underground and partially overground. Something no-one seems to moan about with Mario games which pisses off loads of people in other platformers, is the predictable themes of the levels. SMB3, for instance, has a grassy world, a desert world, (half) a sky world, an ice world... you've seen all these ideas before many a time. But Miyamoto and co. as per usual attempt to be a bit different, and so you get nice touches in these clichéd worlds, like the ability to melt ice in the ice world for instance.
The graphics have been redone since NES version somewhat, but that isn't to say that this version looks a patch on a lot of Konami's work. Likewise, the sound has been 'de-bleeped' for this SNES version, due to SNES' superior sound quality. Incidentally, sound is something I believe has not progressed much: many SNES games sound bet
ter than games on newer consoles. It did improve between NES and SNES significantly, however, so this reworking was definitely necassary. The actual soundtrack is an improvement on the original's but not by much: we are still in cutesy Nintendo teritory, I'm afraid.
After The Lost Levels, SMB3 is the hardest game on this compilation. It has a large number of levels, a good number of which are pretty tricky. You won't complete it in a hurry, but trying to do so is something that is very entertaining.
In a turn of events that almost makes the Final Fantasy naming system look simple, The Lost Levels is actually Super Mario Bros. 2. "How what where?" I hear you cry. Basically Nintendo of America didn't like this sequel, and released Doki Doki Panic, another Nintendo platformer, instead with altered sprites and called it SMB2. They thus must've felt a little desparate as they released this 'rejected' game on the compilation...
The Lost Levels is so similar to the original, it is like a tough set of extra levels for Super Mario Bros., and they are damned tough. It seems like someone was a bit sloppy though, as someone has lost a LOT of levels. I got to level 8-4, and expected the credits to roll when I managed to complete the level, but instead it went on to level A-1. The advertising said it has 99 levels, which doesn't sound right as there are 4 levels in a world, but the point still stands that the game is absolutely rock solid and huge.
I don't understand why Nintendo chose to use the original Super Mario Bros. as a basis for the game: SMB3 improved on the original's engine in nearly every way. My guess is that as levels for SMB3 are more complex, they'd take up too much memory, and Nintendo would naturally want to keep the cart size down so they could make a larger profit. But they did choose the original's engine, so we're stuck with it. But although SMB3 improved on
the formula, it is not the case that SMB has a cruddy engine, so I'll stop moaning about that now.
Anyway. To get anywhere in The Lost Levels, you need to have at least got fairly far in the original as although this game does have a learning curve, it is one that starts at a fairly high difficulty. This is a rarity in a Nintendo product: they are for once catering for older, more skillful gamers opposed to attempting to please everyone but ending up making games that appeal to the 6-10 age group.
Obviously, the graphics are identical to the graphics in SMB, and the soundtrack is also the same. This is disapointing: I would have hoped that they bothered to make new BGM, especially as as I have said (not a typo), the majority of the people who will get some distance into the game will have played SMB through to the end, and will probably have got bored of the tunes en route. This would be OK if the soundtrack was by SquareSoft, but it is your average upbeat Nintendo produce. This is a minor niggle, though.
Whacking up the difficulty has two obvious effects: it lasts longer, and it is more fustrating. A LOT more fustrating. Sometimes I am thankful that SNES carts are bullet-proof, as that might be tested after dying for the umpteenth time on the same level...
The year was 1991, and Nintendo had to pull something special out of their collective corporate hat to convince gamers to buy their new hardware. And they did. SMW is a game that practically every SNES owner has, and for a good reason. Over the course of the 6-odd years that SNES lasted for, few - if any - managed to improve on the simple gameplay of Mario World. I think Yoshi's Island, while hugely innovative and technically far superior, simply cannot compare to SMW purely in terms of gameplay.
What a predictable opening paragraph that was. But anyway, this is vintage Nintendo, which simply is incapable of becoming dated. The structure of the game is fairly n
on-linear, as after the first introductory world you have a choice in which way you progress through the levels. This is achieved by secret endings to some levels, which is something that adds to Mario World significantly as you do not merely need to get from one end of the level to the other. To manage to find all of SMW's secrets takes exploration and a little puzzle-solving. Obviously the puzzles are not on a par with Zelda, but it is the kind of thing that makes the game different from those platform games where you hold down right and tap jump occasionally.
SMW was released in '91, and frankly it looks it. The colour-scheme is laughably simplistic, the bosses are forgetable, and, and... it really doesn't matter. I'm not saying graphics don't matter, as they do, as they are the main way a game communicates with the player. But here you will forget about the graphics soon enough. Think about it: how many people have ever moaned about the graphics in Tetris? Nobody cares when the game is absorbing enough. I'm not saying I'd complain if the game was re-released in 3D with 16 million colours and a high polygon count, but SMW is simply a game that does not need spectacular graphics as it has nothing to hide deeper down.
And then there's Yoshi. The green dino gives a new dimension to the game, as he has a different set of abilities from Mario. This adds to the variety in the game, as the coders can come up with parts of levels that are designed to be negotiated with one of them specifically. And there are certainly plenty of original ideas in SMW. Some games only change the backgrounds of the levels, with the gameplay remaining the same throughout, and some try to make levels with a new idea each. The latter is a nice approach, but Mario World often introduces several new ideas in a single level. Whereas a game like Donkey Kong Country 3 has obviously had a lot of thought put into it to 'create' originality,
SMW seems to have been done by naturally imaginative people, and so it doesn't seem that they are constantly trying to make sure the new ideas are spread evenly: a lesser firm than Nintendo would look at one of Mario World's levels and divide the ideas in it into different levels, but Nintendo have simply come up with enough innovative ideas to make this possible. I think what I'm trying to say is that the game doesn't smell of board meetings if you get me. The game also is fairly long if you complete a decent number of levels, although unsurprisingly it has no challenge whatsoever on all but around 5 levels.
A really subtle touch that took me an age to notice is that most of the games' tunes are variations on the same tune. Different samples and tempos etc disguise this. Just listen closely to the underwater and castle themes for instance... not that the tunes are that special in their own right, unfortunately, due to the usual cutesy upbeat style Nintendo have such a fascination about.
In summary, this is an excellent collection of games, with the fustration factor making TLL the weakest of the five titles on show here, although it is still a fantastic game in its own right.
[Please note that this review was not stolen from http://members.madasafish.com/~kefka/ as said site is mine]