Review by Retro

"A superb collection of classics, but are they flawless?"

Fans of the Super Mario Bros. games for the NES rejoice! Super Mario All-Stars is one game that almost every Nintendo fan absolutely had to have when it first came out. I already had all three of the classic platformers for the NES, but I still wanted it just as bad as anyone. Why did everyone want this game so bad? Easy, because it has Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario Bros. 3 all in one cartridge! It also has a game that most people (including myself) hadn't ever played called The Lost Levels.

I'm not going to explain all four of these games because most people who get Super Mario All-Stars are probably already familiar with the three famous juggernauts. Besides, if you want to know my opinion on the three classics, minus The Lost Levels, I've written reviews especially for them.

The Lost Levels is a lot like Super Mario Bros., except that it has a few differences. The main change is that it's a lot harder. You can pick either Mario or Luigi (but it's not two-player). Mario is normal in every way, but Luigi has a superior jumping ability that might could place Michael Jordan in a bit of a jealous state. Most of the places in The Lost Levels are similar to the ones in Super Mario Bros., but they're a little bit different, especially the boss levels and one stage in particular that features blustery winds that you must use to make it to the next platform. You'll also see some new items, such as a blue mushroom that does more harm than good to either of the plumbers. Let's just say that I'm glad that Nintendo decided to go with the Doki Doki Panic controversy rather than make The Lost Levels the second in the series in the United States.

The Super Mario Bros. series for the NES is without a doubt one of my favorite video game series of all time, if not my favorite. As much as I hate to say it, Super Mario All-Stars is not quite a perfect rendition of the NES versions. I seem to be one of the few people that sees the difference; almost everybody swears that these are perfect translations.

The only real problem I have with Super Mario All-Stars is that its control needed a bit more work. Don't get me wrong, the control is easy to get used to and easy to master, but it's not quite as precise as the controls in the originals are. For example, if you hold Y (for extra running speed) and jump and hit a block to bust it (not a question mark, but a block), you will come to a dead stop while hitting the block (like in the underground world of 1-2 in Super Mario Bros. where there are a bunch of claustrophobic blocks).

You'll notice that the control seems a bit loose while you're in the air; after you hit the block, you keep going up a little bit. In the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES, Mario and Luigi don't have any major hang time after busting a block, and they don't come to a stop while busting one; they fall back down pretty fast and keep going across the screen in normal diagonal fashion.

I know that might sound confusing, but if you're real familiar with the original versions of these games and then you play these ports of them in Super Mario All-Stars, you might not want to admit it, but you'll see some differences if you're observant in the least bit.

Another minor complaint I have is that some of the sounds are different and don't sound as good as they did in the originals. Most of the sounds are the same, but a few of them are different and in my opinion, are of lower quality. For example, when you jump on a turtle, it sounds more like you're thumping a tin can than anything else. The same goes for the music. It's not to say that the sounds aren't good though, cause they are. It's just.....why mess with greatness?

Almost all the graphics in Super Mario All-Stars are different, but I actually like the majority of them. Many of them, such as the ending to Super Mario Bros. 2 have been altered a bit and I don't like those changes, but others such as the backgrounds in World 4 (Ice World) in Super Mario Bros. 2, and the castles in Super Mario Bros., are actually better than the original graphics. Call me a purist, but even though most of these new and improved graphics are well done, and even ''better'', I still prefer the originals for the most part. I guess that's just the curse of being a retro freak.

Other than the graphics, a few of the sounds and tunes, and the somewhat off-beat controls in places, everything else about the collection in Super Mario All-Stars is just like the originals. As an added bonus, for each of the three blockbusters and the newbie (The Lost Levels), there are a few slots for saving your game at any time. That's great because you can save both two-player and one-player games in Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3. I also like how you can go back to any place that you've already beaten in any of the games. The options when you pause the game are: Continue, Save & Continue, and Save & Quit.

If you like the Super Mario Bros. series for the NES or if you like great 2-D, side-scrolling platformers, then I definitely recommend getting Super Mario All-Stars. Just don't expect them to be exact copies of the originals. If I was to give Super Mario All-Stars a rating for the games that are included in it, I would give it a major 10. The only reason I'm not giving it a perfect score of 10 anyway is because of the difference in the precision of some of the controls.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/26/01, Updated 03/22/03

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