Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Super Mario Bros (NES, 1985)

This is it. In 1985, good games suddenly began to appear. And that's a good thing, because gaming in 1984... well, when Kung-Fu Master is one of the standout games from the year, there's a problem. Luckily for children everywhere, the NES was on its way. And with the NES, Super Mario Bros.

OH MAN. I'm excited for this. This game is legendary, and may well have been the first video game I ever played. (I'm still trying to remember if it was this or Destiny of an Emperor)

All right, here we go. If I can just get past this first Goomba, I MIGHT have a shot at winning this thing.

Brad Pitt: "WHAT'S IN THE BLOCK!?"

...A shroom. Mario, of course, is infamous for his usage of shrooms.

Power UP!

If you manage to get past Goomba (a task that would be nearly impossible for most World of Warcraft players), it's important to grab this early 1-Up. The key to victory in this game is knowing where the 1-Ups are and taking the warp zones. Unless you're a total pro and can go through all eight worlds without dying. I can't, but for the purposes of this post I'll be playing all of the worlds. Not all at once, but I'll take on as many as I can manage in one group of lives.

BLAM BLAM! Fireball, bitches! PLAY IT LOUUUUD!

After clearing World 1-1, Mario climbs into the sewage system. They should have done a Mario/Ninja Turtles crossover at some point. "Mario Vs. Ninja Turtle" would have been a hot seller, and made about as much sense as Robocop Vs. Terminator.

I remember when I was a kid and a friend of mine showed me where this power star was. These, of course, make you invincible. Look at that koopa, shrieking in horror.

Another 1-Up. This one is hidden in the ceiling. I make it a point to grab these two 1-Ups every time I play. Because... I don't actually know where any of the other ones are.

By 1-3 you need to have a firm grasp on jumping. The first world of this game is a brilliant tutorial on how to play. The learning curve is just right. Sure, it's a barebones game, and yes, easily surpassed by other games like Super Mario Bros 3. But this awesome, and the simplicity only adds to the fun.

1-4 is the castle. First time I played this, I got to this point and promptly lost all of my lives. I reached the boss, and was in awe of the fact that a boss existed. Keep in mind that this happened in like 1990, well after this game was surpassed. It was all new to me, though.

Note: I REALLY don't like when the game puts the sole powerup in a level over a fire chain like this. It happens a lot, too. Woe to you when the super-long fire chains start showing up.

When the fireballs (which look oddly backwards to me) start coming your way, you know something is about to happen.

And that something... is Bowser. Technically, all of these Bowsers are fakes until the last one, but for the purposes of this post I'll be calling them all Bowser. A mega-koopa with spikes on his shell? When I was a kid, this was just about the coolest thing I'd ever seen. It was the start of my being a boss-thusiast.

Some blocks contain beanstalks. I'm not sure how this works, and there's probably a weed joke to be made here somewhere. Nonetheless, climbing these beanstalks generally leads to profit.

In this case, Mario finds himself in the clouds, surrounded by coins. Life would be great if you just found coins everywhere you went in the course of your normal adventuring. No cubicle for Mario. HE'S A FREE SPIRIT, MAN!

This game impressively has underwater levels where the controls are entirely different.

World 2-3 sees the debut of ass-chomping flying fish. They leap across the screen and pose a pretty significant threat... to Mario's posterior.

Another Bowser, evaded. This time, there were some blocks overhead. I like how they organically make each Bowser more challenging by simply changing his room. Bowser himself doesn't actually get any more powerful until the last few worlds when he suddenly throws hammers.

This little bastard is Toad, destroyer of worlds. He and/or them serve little purpose but to appear at the end of any given castle and inform you that all of your efforts were for naught. All of that time! All of those innocent people!


The debut of the Hammer Bros. These guys are dicks!

I hear there's an infinite lives trick at the end of 3-1 here, but I've never been able to get it to work.

After finishing World 3, I decided to re-up on lives and went back to the beginning. As most people know, running over the ceiling in World 1-2 legendarily takes you to the Warp Zone.

As a kid, this was pretty amazing to me. I couldn't get past World 1-4, but with this I could check out the later worlds! Of course, I'd always warp to World 4 and lose all my lives there. I suppose I was expecting to see a majestic wonderland if I got far enough in the game, rather than simply more of the same levels.

The primary cause of all that losing of lives. Lakitu is quite the spiny-throwing monster, but he isn't anywhere near as bad as a Hammer Bro.

World 4-2 features another warp zone. Two, actually. One (reached by running in the ceiling) takes you to World 5. The other, seen here, takes you to a hub room for Worlds 6, 7, and 8.

Mario's acid trip into shroom-land deepens, as he believes himself to be traversing giant mushrooms in the sky.

The last level of World 4 introduces the castle maze, where you need to pick the right paths to continue onward. This would repeat in several of the later castles. Luckily, the tradeoff is that these particular castles are very quick and easy once you know the correct route.

World 5-4 on the other hand is a linear castle level, and it's pretty rough. Here's something I alluded to earlier: a power-up over a mega fire-chain. It's better to just let this one go. Sorry about the lack of World 5 screenshots, but it's basically just World 1 amped up.

Mario exchanges fireballs with Bowser. It's a whole different experience when you fight Bowser with fireballs as opposed to just sneaking by or, if big, powering through. It isn't a difficult fight at all, but the sense of accomplishment when you take him down this way is great.


It's also great to take out Lakitu with a fireball. Suck it, Lakitu!

World 6-3 is oddly grayscale...for the most part.

Even the castle is in grayscale! What does it all mean?

As of World 6-4, Bowser now throws hammers...lots and lots of hammers. This seriously ups the challenge quotient of getting past him, because you're essentially forced to run under him.

Moments after this picture was taken, Toad unhinged his jaw and ate Mario whole.

7-4 is another castle maze, this time with a Hammer Bowser at the end. None of the worlds are particularly difficult taken on their own. It's running through all eight in succession that is a problem. This time around, I played 1-2-3, 4-5, and 6-7-8 each in one sitting with the help of warp zones. For whatever reason, World 5 is the only one that gives me any problems at this point.

At last, World 8. The Mordor of the Super Mario Bros world. A place spoken of only in hushed tones.


This is called "going into the final levels in good shape". Once you get World 8 down, it isn't too bad.

There are two powerups in World 8-3, and if you grab both of these and then carefully negociate the final level, it's easy enough to get to the final boss with fire power.

The biggest threat in 8-4 is definitely from these flying fish.

8-4 also has an underwater section. WILD.

This is it, Bowser. The final Bowser is basically an impenetrable wall, and getting here as small Mario is a recipe for a game over. And that's if you get past the Hammer Bro right before him. With fireballs, you can plow through the 'Bro and give Bowser a real battle.



BOOM. ::the Final Fantasy victory theme plays::



  1. SMB is in no way overrated, not even a tad. There was nothing like this before Super Mario Bros. We've taken it for granted for a very long time, but at one time this was a revelation.

  2. ...those fireballs DO look backwards.

  3. I think the castle fireball make sense if you imagine it attached to Bowser's mouth. It's just that firebreath usually doesn't detach like that.

  4. This is a really great run-through. I want to show it to my friends. I also like the idea that you are -supposed- to use the warp zones because the world is so big.
    You could definitely find out where the other hidden 1-ups and stars are now using Google, but it wouldn't be the same.
    Looking at this in the context of 1983 and 1984 games is even more incredible. They're worlds apart. Thanks.