Tuesday 28 January 2020

Mario Bros. (NES review)

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1986

Mario Bros. is an action-platformer that was first released in the Arcades in 1983.

It supports 1-2 players (co-op or competitively) and the objective is to eliminate all enemies in each stage by punching from above to stun them and then subsequently kicking them. Enemies include Turtles (single hit required) and Crabs (require two hits), and an alternative method of attack is to use the limited POW block which knocks over everything on all floors. If you're used to side-scrolling Mario platformers the inputs can be jarring, as movement relies on momentum and you have no control in mid-air. Once you've adjusted though, the gameplay has that simple but addictive Arcade style action that's perfect for high score chasers. A fun and strategic part is the ability to hit certain parts of the platforms above you to control how the enemies react; for example, hitting Turtles on the front edge of your sprite will drop them onto the ledge below (saving you time so you don't have to jump up a level to kick them), whereas bopping Crabs slightly before they cross your vertical path results in them jolting backwards (giving you the necessary time to leap again to get in the required two hits). And then there's the inspired POW block which almost acts like a panic button to get you safely out of hairy situations! Additionally, the collectable coins that randomly appear provide a great risk-reward element (while topping up your point total) and the constant threat of hazardous fireballs if you take too long adds tons of intensity. Unfortunately, the gameplay starts to wear thin after a while, and a big reason for that is the lack of any variety in the level design (only one layout) and the inclusion of just five enemy types.

Mario Bros. is a good game to while away an hour or so, as it has some entertaining gameplay (especially in co-op mode) and historically interesting enemy types that are mostly unique to this Mario title. However, it does lack in replayability due to the stingy singular layout, so regrettably the fun is rather short-lived.

Random trivia: This game features the first ever appearance of Mario's brother, Luigi.

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