Mario Bros. (Video Game Review)

Video Game Review
Mario Bros.
Arcade
1983
Developed by: Nintendo
Published by: Nintendo

Back before Mario became a household name, there was Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong was incredibly popular in the arcades and Nintendo was constantly looking to keep their properties strong and profitable. Donkey Kong became a strong franchise with multiple sequels. His nemesis, Jumpman also made the leap into his own game. Mario Bros. was the first Mario game that didn’t involve the big ape. It was a basic game that was quite fun. It also took on a new dimension when a second player got involved. For those wondering where Nintendo got the idea of multiplayer co-op for New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you should take a look at this title.

The goal of each level is to defeat all the enemies within the level. They descend out of pipes from the top of the screen and begin to meander around the multiple-tiered platforms littered around the level. For Mario to defeat the enemies, he needs to jump and hit from underneath the platform where the baddies are walking. After the enemy is knocked out, Mario needs to jump on the same platform as the enemy and boot it off the screen. Some enemies need more than one hit to be knocked out. If Mario doesn’t boot off an enemy fast enough, it’ll recover and get angry (which is visually apparent by changing colour) and it will move with greater speed. Defeated enemies will cause coins to be dispensed from the tubes at the top of the stage to be grabbed for bonus points. After all the enemies are defeated, a new stage starts with more difficult enemies (as well as more enemies in general). The goal of the game is to get the highest score.

This game can be played by two players simultaneously both competitively and co-operatively. Players can team up to help each other get high scores or they can compete against each other to see who lasts the longest.

The game controls relatively simple. A joystick moves either of the Mario brothers left or right and pressing a button makes Mario or Luigi jump. It feels a little stiffer than the mechanics of more contemporary Mario titles but the controls still work well.

Graphically everything looks good considering the hardware. The animation is fluid and the sprites are well designed. The game handles the chaos with no problems as you progress through the game and get hammered by multiple enemies on screen at the same time.

The sound is another story. There is next to no music to speak of except during the introduction to a level. The game is essentially played in silence with the exception of the sound effects. Saying they’re bad and annoying would be an insult to legitimately bad and annoying sounds. It’s like having to constantly deal with nails on a chalkboard for minutes at a time. The brothers are constantly making sounds from their shoes and it is torture on the ears. Hopefully, the game is being played in a noisy arcade so that these awful sounds are drowned out.

One of the interesting parts of this game was the multiplayer. The single player game was enjoyable enough and managed to steal the quarters of many players around the world. However, when playing with a second player, it becomes a whole new game. You could either work together to progress through the game and get as many points possible together or you could compete against each other and try to defeat your partner. Most chose the latter and the strategies involved to trap your opponent has become a science. There are some pretty clever ways to trick the person you’re playing against to make them fall in defeat. It adds a layer to the game during a time when games rarely had more than one goal or objective. Playing Mario Bros. can mean playing a different game depending on the situation. It definitely makes the game something special.

Then again, there isn’t much to it. After the first level, you’ve seen it all. The game is essentially the same except for harder enemies and different surfaces for the brothers to contend with. While a repetitive formula might work for a game like Pac-Man or Donkey Kong, it isn’t as compelling with Mario Bros. The multiplayer makes up for it but a solo experience can get pretty boring pretty quick.

The original Mario Bros. arcade game is a lot of fun. It’s hard to find the arcade unit since there aren’t that many arcades anymore and the Nintendo arcade unit of choice for many is Donkey Kong. It is available as a minigame in several full-fledged Super Mario Bros. titles on multiple systems. However, the best experience comes from playing the game on an arcade cabinet with a buddy. It won’t blow your mind, but you’ll get some good fun out of your quarters.

☆☆☆

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