Twenty five years is a long time in the entertainment industry. Although at the time of this compilation's release (2010), Mario had actually been around thirty years, this was the twenty fifth anniversary of the debut of the SUPER MARIO series. The real problem with this release is as far as actual game content goes it only covers the first three years of Mario's career (1985-1988, which is the time period when the four NES Mario games were made. Though SUPER MARIO 3 came out in the US in 1990, the game had been finished and even released in Japan in 1988).
Now, depending on what you want or how you look at this release, the 25th Anniversary release is either a rather cheap marketing ploy for Nintendo to make some quick cash or a good way to get all four Mario games. I bought the title and am glad to be able to play the 16 bit remakes on the Wii, but I quite see the point that this is a rather botched release to say the least. What should have been a true celebration of Mario and what he means to Nintendo simply becomes a budget line release with an SNES rom dumped onto a disk and given some new packaging.
Now, this review is really only about the 25th anniversary release, not the games themselves. The four titles are essential centerpoints in video gaming's early history, and stand up remarkably well, even in today's multimillion dollar budgets. Yes, they are short and simple, but that's largely part of the charm. Mario has always been tremendously accessible, and for those without a lot of time, Mario is great because you can pick up and play. If you want more information on the four games I've included a portion of my original review for the SNES cart after the main review, rather than reinvent the wheel and include information on each title on this already lengthy review.
Ultimately, Mario sells systems and always has. Nintendo has learned that the hard way with the 3DS debacle. Miyamoto himself said that they should have had SUPER MARIO 3DS LAND ready for release, as that would truly demonstrate what the 3DS could do. How many times have Nintendo sold us these same four games? Lots. There are obviously the original NES titles. Then there was the SNES SUPER MARIO ALLSTARS (with the previously unreleased stateside LOST LEVELS). Then there was the Gameboy Color release. Then the Gameboy Advanced Classic NES series. Then we have the Super Mario Advance series. Then we have the Virtual Console. And now this. (And for the record, other than the Super Mario advanced series, I have bought these four games in all these various forms).
Based on Mario's pure market power, I feel Nintendo felt they were able to get away with a release like this . . . and they were right. Supposed to be a limited print run, this release quickly sold out and a lot of people began price gouging on online market places like eBay. The release proved so popular that Nintendo did another production run of the title. Although this was supposed to be a "limited edition" run, apparently the title is still in print, as you are able to purchase this new from several online sources
So what's the real problem with the 25th Anniversary Release? Well, several things.
First, this is a straight port of SUPER MARIO ALLSTARS for the SNES. And I mean just that - a STRAIGHT PORT. In SMA you are able to change the controller options and they show SNES controllers. It's rather odd to see the SNES controllers listed in this release.
Another big problem is the tremendous waste of space on the disk. With all the available space, Nintendo only includes an SNES rom? Seriously? With all the space, they could have included SUPER MARIO WORLD, SUPER MARIO 64, Gameboy titles, miscellaneous early sports NES and SNES titles, even the Gamecube's SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE. After all, this release was supposed to be a full blown celebration of Mario - he deserves better than just an SNES rom with some pretty packaging!
As far as the packing goes, you do get a booklet of Mario history and a CD. Honestly, the booklet isn't that great, with only one liners on each title from Miyamoto, Koji Kondo (the music composer), and Takashi Tezuka. You also get a (very short) cd of Mario music as well, with lots of sound effects. There is some interesting artwork in the booklet as well but that's about it.
Honestly you get more information from online sources than what is found in the booklet, especially the Nintendo series of interviews called "Iwata Asks", where Nintendo President Satoru Iwata poses various questions to about different game developers regarding products. In these you learn that the original Mario had a shooting stage (!) and the cloud levels were left over remants of that never used idea, and that the second quest in THE LEGEND OF ZELDA came about by accident, as they released they had only used half the available data on the ROM.
What would have been nice, and would have curved much of the criticism that has come against this release, is either to see more content (after all, the four NES games, being NES platformers, do not take that long to complete), or, barring that, see the four NES games updated graphically. It would have been great to play the four NES titles with NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. WII graphics. At least it would have been new, even if it was only a graphical facelift. (Ironically, Nintendo Power criticized the original SMAS in their 1993 issue for being only a facelift with nothing really new to offer, with the exception of the first ever release of LOST LEVELS).
Then the Virtual Console and download space come into the equation as well. ALL STARS has long been in demand as a Virtual Console release, although most speculated Nintendo would most likely not release that as it may cannibalize sales of the original four 8-bit Mario titles already available for through the service. Though I don't know how valid that is, personally I think ALLSTARS would have been better served as a Virtual Console release, and the price would have been much cheaper as well. (As of December 2011 we still haven't gotten SUPER MARIO WORLD 2: YOSHI'S ISLAND released, which along with SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE is the only Mario title I really haven't played, although SMW2 is a Yoshi game, not a Mario game).
So over all, as an celebration of Mario's career, this "25th Anniversary Release" comes off rather poorly, and gives the distinct impression Nintendo really didn't put that much effort (because they didn't). Knowing the market would purchase this title without any real effort on their part, Nintendo threw the SNES ROM on the disk, gave it some minimal packaging, and wah-la, instant seller!
And you know what? They were right. I bought my copy. So if you want the 16-bit remakes of the four Mario titles and feel justified paying thirty to fifty bucks retail for an SNES Rom first released in 1993, go for it. After all, it's Mario, and for family entertainment it's a great way to go. I just wish Nintendo had given Mario a better anniversary celebration.
5 stars for the games, 1 star for pure laziness and market reliance on Nintendo's part (1 star is on this release only and is no way an indictment against the games).
Taken from my review of the original SNES title which includes later versions included SUPER MARIO WORLD
SUPER MARIO ALLSTARS, an anthology of the first four NES Mario games for the SNES, was one of the most popular titles Nintendo released during the early 1990s. Since these titles were such staples of the NES, it was only logical to port them to SNES with a graphical overhaul, options to save, and (for America anyway) the release of a long lost game called LOST LEVELS. Also, depending on what version of this you get, in later releases they also packaged SUPER MARIO WORLD as well, making this a one stop shop for those looking for a Mario fix. These are the games.
SUPER MARIO BROTHERS: The single most popular game ever released, and also the most widely circulated. Largerly responsible for saving the video game industry after the historic crash of 1984, it is now easy to forget (especially for younger gamers) how revolutionary this title was when it first came out. 8 expansive worlds, bright colourful graphics, and much more complex than the usual one-screen games that dominated in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A real technological breakthrough and a historic landmark in gaming, even all these years later it holds up with pixel-perfect graphics and rock-solid game play. Don't miss this one.
THE LOST LEVELS: The original followup to SMB; released only in Japan. Deemed to hard for the American markets, another game was given Mario sprites and released in America as SMB2. This title, however, is notoriously difficult. I always think of it as the second quest, like in the original Zelda. If you go through all 8 levels without warping, you get to a secret world, 9, before going on to worlds A-D. When ALLSTARS first came out, Nintendo Power had a promotion that if you got to world 9 they would send you a Mario badge. Ah, the memories! Still, if you really want to test your metal against incredibly difficult old-school Mario levels, this game isn't to be missed. Lots of fun all around. Some levels, however, make you think Shigeru Miyamoto has a sadistic streak in him. Closet America ever got to the original 8-bit release was Super Mario Deluxe for the Game Boy Colour, though that was lacking the last five bonus levels and did not have all the same graphics as the original SMB2 did.
SUPER MARIO BROTHERS 2: Also known as SUPER MARIO BROTHERS USA in Japan (released in 1992 there and 1988 stateside), this is the odd man out in the series. The game play couldn't be more different than the original SMB if they tried. Read more ›