Review by Ice Water

"THIS is how a remake SHOULD be, especially if its a collection!"

Back in the year 1993, one could only dream of having a collection of video games on one cartridge....well, without it being a bootleg that is. Nintendo realizing the potential of the Super Nintendo at the time realized they could make a quick buck from this technique. However, instead of making a direct port from the original three or four NES Super Mario Bros. games, they decided to go all out to make Super Mario All-Stars worth buying. And I remember the first commercials to appear for this game. In a whirlwind of 2 minutes, I was amazed at the fact that three of the best games ever made were being made for my Super Nintendo, as well as the rumors of a brand new game that was NEVER released in the USA before. So that Christmas, I was presented with the best game of the year.

What Exactly Is Super Mario All-Stars?
Super Mario All-Stars is the first (to my knowledge, there might have been something else before it) game collection contained on one cartridge. Sure back in the NES days, there were games like Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, and the even more popular Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt/Track and Field, but this was the first game that took four games of the same series and put them into one place. THIS was awesome at the time! What made this even more awesome was that it was four of the best games made up to this point in time. Super Mario Bros. 3 alone sold over a million copies or something back when it first came out and this only took place a few years later. What was even better was that Nintendo actually revamped the graphics for each of the games and made them have more of a Super Mario World graphical appeal to them. This posed no problem at all whatsoever since the SNES was the best thing at the time and the graphical updates actually made the games smoother to play.

As you open up the main title, you will be introduced to all four of the main games. Each game has a total of FOUR save files, something that the NES versions NEVER had. This means you can stop playing at any time and go sleep or something and then play right where you left off WITHOUT having to leave your SNES on all night! Talk about awesome!

So What Games ARE In Super Mario All-Stars?
Incase you don't have access to the box, or the cartridge at the moment, Super Mario All-Stars contains all of the classic NES Super Mario games on it. The four games are:

-Super Mario Bros.
-Super Mario Bros. 2
-Super Mario Bros. 3
-Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

All four games are different in every way, graphically, mechanically, and even in gameplay (Except for Mario 1 and the Lost Levels. More on that later). Each game has a different form of gameplay to make them play exactly like their NES counterparts. Here's a quick rundown on each of the games storylines:

Super Mario Bros./The Lost Levels
The evil King Bowser has kidnapped Princess Toadstool, and it's up to Mario and his brother Luigi to a lesser extent to go and save her. But with the armies of Bowser's minions, will this even be possible?

Super Mario Bros. 2
Mario and his friends end up in a strange land where the citizens warn them about an evil dictator named Wart. Can Mario's gang defeat him and bring peace back to Subcon?

Super Mario Bros. 3
Bowser is back, and he had kids! And they're wrecking havoc upon the Mushroom Kingdom by transforming all of the lands kings into animals! It's up to Mario and Luigi to save the day.

The Ultimate breakdown on Gameplay
The gameplay for every game is exactly the same....except for Mario 2, so that will receive a different section. The main objective of a Mario game is to make it from the beginning of the level to the end flag (Mario 1 and Lost Levels) or Flashy Item Box (Mario 3). To make your life miserable, there are tons of evil minions of Bowser out there to put an end to your quest at a moment's notice, so how can you strike back? Simple: put your weight to use and squash them! By simply jumping on an enemy, you will be able to kill it and move on without fear.

If any enemy bumps into you, you will lose a life. You can prevent death by collecting power ups in the form of Mushrooms which allows you to break bricks by jumping to hit them above your head, or a Fire Flower if you're big already to give you access to ranged attacks, and if you pick up a Star, you will become invincible for a short period of time, allowing you to kill any enemy you run into. In Super Mario 3, there are even more power ups, the most notable being the Raccoon leaf, which allows you to fly after picking up speed and tapping the jump button as fast as you can. Unfortunately, getting hit by any enemy will instantly turn you back into your small form (except for Mario 3, you'll just revert back to Big Mario until you get hit again or find another power up), so even in your most powerful form you should beware of the enemies.

In the Lost Levels, there is a slight difference between characters. You will be allowed to choose from either Mario or Luigi at the start and use only one of them until you quit playing the game. The difference between the two brothers is that Mario has a lower jump but is as easy to control as he was in Super Mario Bros. Luigi on the other hand can jump much higher, and can easily reach platforms that Mario can't reach without a running start. The only drawback to Luigi is that he sometimes acts like he's on ice since it is much harder to control him after building up some major momentum.

In Mario 2, the gameplay has changed so much from the normal Mario pattern that this may be a new game altogether. In this game, you no longer have powerups, but instead have a hit point system built in. You begin each stage with only 2 hits to your name and start at full power, and can find up to two more bits of life to bring your total hits up to 4. To find these extra life bits, you must go into Subcon's 'dreamworld' and find the Mushroom before your time runs out in the second world. Throughout the levels as you defeat enemies, you will find hearts to recharge your life. Speaking of defeating enemies, to beat them down in this game it takes a bit more than just jumping on their heads. You must actually get on top of them and pick them up, then throw them into other enemies to fully remove them. There are also veggies everywhere that you can use to defeat them as well. Cherry's fill the skies, and collecting 5 of them will summon an invincibility star from the original Mario games to add to your enemy slaying mayhem! At the end of each level, you can use coins you find in 'dreamworld' to play the slots to get some extra lives. This can either be a great asset or your worst nightmare depending on how good you are at slot machines.

The controls for a Mario game have ALWAYS been simple enough for even a 3 year old child to use (I would know seeing how that's how I've been playing these games since I've been 3 years old over 15 years ago). The conversion from a 2 button controller to a 4 button controller actually worked out quite well by giving you the option at the menu screen to swap your control style from having B and A as both of your jump buttons, to having the classic NES style of having B as your dash/pick up stuff (Mario 2) instead of Y and X, leaving the A button for jumping, so it will feel more like the NES controller. The controls are always responsive, so if there are any errors made it will be on your part (unless your controller has seen better days of course).

Music and Sound
The Music from the old days of the NES era are back in remix form. They keep true to the original music that EVERYONE LOVES (Don't think I don't hear you hummin' the tunes every now and then!). All of the music has been made to take full advantage of the SNES's music system, and does a great job with it. The sound effects are all taken straight from Super Mario World, except for a few sounds in Mario 2 and 3 which seemed to be created for the sole purpose of this collection since I never heard certain sounds from Super Mario World, like picking up the enemies, or the frog suit jumping.

This is MARIO we are talking about here! These games will NEVER get old! You might get tired of them for a while, but you sure will be back into these games within the next few days/weeks/months/years. If one of your friends sees that you have this game, there's a 1/10 chance that s/he'll ask you to fire All-Stars up (unless you have something like Smash Bros or Halo or something overrated like that.) With two player alternating action, you two will have some fun for quite some time until one of you finish the game.

This is definitely a must buy if you own a Super Nintendo. The only way this game could be any better is if you get the rare Super Mario All-Stars with Super Mario World built in! You will be playing this game for many hours to come, and it should be at an affordable twenty bucks or less. Pick it up!

Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/03/04

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