Retro Video Game Review: Super Mario Brothers (Nes)

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Overall Rating: 5/5

The proper affirmations and accolades that rightly belong to Super Mario Brothers can be summed up in one statement: Had it not been for Super Mario Brothers, there would not be a home console video gaming industry.

There was a period of time in the 1980’s when in-home play was at risk of extinction. Atari had enjoyed a measure of success, especially on its 2600 system, but this soon came with a big problem: Third-party developers, seeking to turn a quick buck on this fledgling technological market, were rushing subpar titles into stores without worrying about quality control. Consumers frowned on these new, terrible games, and ultimately doomed Atari when too many cartridges would be ordered and, ultimately, left to rot as unmarketable inventory on the shelves.

Then came the Nintendo Entertainment System and its flagship title, Super Mario Brothers. The Nintendo company wisely cracked down on third-party development at first, limiting its releases to better quality all around. But was Super Mario Brothers truly a great game, or just the solution in a right-time, right-place situation?


We may laugh at the pixelated plumber now, but back in the day, Mario stood head-and-shoulders among the Atari classics that preceded him. Perhaps more importantly, the entire Mushroom Kingdom was rendered in a whimsical, colorful style, with creativity and originality rife enough for any piece of literature or popular media. In short, the game looked great, and provided memorable images for years to come.


Few games, even contemporary titles, can rival the quality of the soundtrack of Super Mario Brothers. From the pitch-perfect jump effect to the impossibly catchy themes, the notes and tones are woven throughout in spectacular fashion, forming a rich tapestry of sensory experience that completely immerses the player.


Although platformer-type games had been done before (Pitfall is a notable example), Super Mario Brothers perfected the formula and brought new ingredients to the mix: Power-ups, underwater scenes, and a wildly imaginative environment. It did not truly invent a new type of game, but perhaps instead, a new kind of experience altogether, becoming the golden standard future entries would try to emulate.

In the end, the answer is yes, Super Mario Brothers still stands up to critical poking and prodding. Modern players still take this title for a spin, seeing if they can beat it in under six minutes, like many can nowadays. Others discover it for the first time and discover what all current games owe their availability to. It was not a perfect game by any means, but its contribution to the world of video games cannot be underscored, and for that factor alone arguably earns five stars out of five.


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