[NSFW] Super Mario Bros. (NES)

Inspired by a historic debate on the hills of GameCola Capitol, where 22+ comments were left showing our seven readers that me and Jeddy just don't see eye to eye, I'm covering the first Mario trilog

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  • System: Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Genre: Action
  • Max Players: 1-2
  • US Release: October 1985
  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Publisher: Nintendo

smbInspired by a historic debate on the hills of GameCola Capitol, where 22+ comments were left showing our seven readers that me and Jeddy just don’t see eye to eye, I’m covering the first Mario trilogy for NES, a series of games that have not been reviewed here yet—did you hear that sound? Now we have two readers.

Yeah, any videogame site worth its weight in dog lather should’ve done this by now, and quite clearly GameCola just doesn’t match up. Well, better late than never; maybe this is fate guiding us to resolve the issue that Jeddy spurned when he threw Dragon Warrior up against the wall and proceeded to have his way with it. To spare you further gruesome sexual context and graphic description (Hint: “Tubgirl: An Alex Jedraszczak Musical”), let’s get to the meat and bones of this thesis question that I will fuck into the ground:

Does context and historical value REALLY mean anything in a game?

Where better to start than here?

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(Now let me do my Gene Shalit impersonation.) Or, better yet, where to start? How the fuck do you start an introduction paragraph on the original Super Mario Bros.? It’s THE VIDEOGAME. It’s just THE VIDEOGAME. It always has been and always will be. People who don’t know about videogames know what Super Mario Bros. is. People who have been dead for hundreds of years and therefore do not have functioning brain cells know what Super Mario Bros. is. This game is nothing BUT context and historical value. It’s unfuckingtouchable from an appraising standpoint. I feel like John the Baptist right now, now that his immortal words ring in my ears: […]I am unfit to tie the thong of his sandal.[…] (Luke 3:16-17). I’m completely unworthy to digest this game and tell you how good it is.

I guess if I were Jeddy trying to review this game, I’d take the perspective of Joe Fuckface picking this game up for the very first time in the year 2014, and catching his first perceptions in a world where PlayStation 3 is old technology. By then, Super Mario Bros. will be worshiped as a kitsch icon of 80s throwback fashionista. Right now there are office buildings with huge Super Mario Bros. cubicles made of post-its, college dioramas of 8-bit gloraphilia, and THIS live-action skit. Any semblance of the game itself will be hidden beneath layers of walking Lego armor designed to make the wearer look JUST LIKE 8-BIT MARIO, and far out of reach—an irony considering that, by then, it will be re-released in some form for the 1,000th time and over 27,000,000 copies will exist in the U.S. alone.

So how’s the game? By Joe Fuckface’s standards—pretty shitty. By 2020, anti-mainstream critics and bloggers, the ones currently (and rightfully) bitching about Family Guy, will expose the overblown public obsession with the shallow and cheesy 80s kitsch of a game that was all right, but really not nearly as good as everyone made it out to be.

And they’re right. Super Mario Bros. is a mediocre title, for all its praise. The colors are drab and awful. Worst blue sky I’ve ever seen. The music’s kinda catchy, but, what, only five real songs? And my god are they repetitive. They run for 30 seconds and then again, and again, and again…. They never give your ears a chance to hear something else. The controls are one of the biggest offenders on the long list of this game’s loads, aims, and misfires. Mario’s inertia is all wrong. He slides like he’s skating on ice with shoes made of cheese, and drops like a lodestone when he goes down, missing all kinds of opportunities to save himself on a ledge, but making sure he hits every enemy you swerve to miss.

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Speaking of enemies, WTF (as in WHO THE FUCK) came up with these ideas? Why am I a plumber stomping on mushrooms and turtles and using drainage as a mode of transportation? I shat in those pipes! It’s kinda cute at first, but when I’m jumping (as if I ever do anything else in this sad excuse for a game) through another bland runway of floating blocks and ridiculous pits with bullets magically fired the other way, I just gotta throw up my hands, controller intact, in confusion and frustration. What IS the real point of this game? I’m shuffling through look-a-like level after level to save, what a surprise, a princess.

Apart from other facts, like the boss battles that are the same and unforgivably simple, obvious programming shortcuts that are visible to the player, and the incredible lack of a payoff at the end, this is the real fault of Super Mario Bros.: IT’S ALL BEEN DONE BEFORE LIKE A MILLION TIMES. It’s so fucking…cliché! Forget, of course, that Super Mario invented all those clichés and inspired all the others that are pissing me off as of writing; none of that is important. What’s important is the here and now, where I play this ancient game with no concept of history or context, no respect for cultural impact, and barely any credibility to review this game in the first place. What matters are the six figures below—nothing more, nothing less.

This game sucks.

Super Mario Bros. (NES):

Fun: 4
Novelty: 2
Audio: 4
Visuals: 5
Controls: 3
Replay Value: 4

Overall: 3.7 – Bad


So I guess that’s what a review of Super Mario Bros. looks like without history and context. Really takes it out of you, doesn’t it? Destroys a few of your childhood dreams, doesn’t it? Can you imagine what it would have been like if I posted this in newsprint back when the game was just released? The course of videogaming, and indeed international finance (no, I’m not joking) would have changed forever. Videogames are a billion-dollar global industry, and it all started with this cartridge.

What you’re apparently still reading if you got this far down is an admission of guilt. This review is less about the game itself than it is a thinly veiled, overproduced “getback” at Jeddy after that long and exhaustive argument. Still trying to argue a point that is pretty pointless to begin with.

Jeddy’s totally right that Joe Fuckface doesn’t give a shit about history and context when he sits down to play a game for the first time. It’s all about the experience of playing the game, which comes down to the six figures above.

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But for God’s sake, is that what we, as self-proclaimed videogame authorities, are confined to write within? What about heart? What about soul? What about that “feeling” you get when you play a game and enjoy it? Why bother even playing and writing about a game if you’re just going to look at it, then listen to it, then control it, and then stick numbers next to it? Is that critical review?

Maybe Dragon Warrior is a clunker that got lucky, but there’s a REASON Super Mario Bros. is a real classic. It’s fun. It just is. Bitch about mainstream and nerd cred all you want, but there’s a reason things get really big and really popular for so long. There’s a good reason Super Mario Bros. gets released every year—because people keep buying it, and they keep buying it because they love it. Sometimes something is good because it’s a fact, not because it’s a widely held opinion.

Super Mario Bros. is THE VIDEOGAME, and it does not require silly numbers or a silly reviewer. It is above that. It is THE VIDEOGAME. Period.

Super Mario Bros. (NES):

History: 10
Context: 10
Heart: 9
Soul: 9
Controls: 3
Replay Value: 9
Fun: 10

Overall: 8.6 – Great

  • GameCola Rates This Game: - Worthless
3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 103 votes, average: 5.00 out of 103 votes, average: 5.00 out of 103 votes, average: 5.00 out of 103 votes, average: 5.00 out of 103 votes, average: 5.00 out of 103 votes, average: 5.00 out of 103 votes, average: 5.00 out of 103 votes, average: 5.00 out of 103 votes, average: 5.00 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)
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About the Contributor


Since 2008

Meteo Xavier has been gaming for a quarter of a century and has quite a bit to talk about from that era. He is the author of “Vulgarity For the Masses” and you can find more on him and his game reviews at www.jslawhead.com.

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