Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Review

   06/12/2010 at 21:32       Richard Horne       4 COMMENTS. - Score 2/5
 - Super Mario All-Stars, Nintendo, Wii, Super Nintendo, Super Mario Brothers

The budget release of Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition should be a fantastic celebration of the genius that is Nintendo. One that manages to strike home just how long Nintendo has been playing this particular game. A game it founded long before those upstarts at Microsoft and Sony started chiming in with their so-called hardcore consoles.

But then just as you’re preparing to bask in that warm, fuzzy, nostalgic glow, it simultaneously shows itself up to be a lazy slap-dash smack in the face for those of us who have stuck with this much-loved developer and publisher through thick and thin. From the highs - the NES and SNES eras where you didn’t play games, you played Nintendo. Through to the lows – the depressingly empty and flat latter years of the N64 and GameCube.

The package contains, in addition to a celebratory booklet and audio CD, ports of: the original and best Super Mario Brothers. The unusual and alternative Super Mario Bros. 2. The sublime Super Mario Bros. 3. And finally, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels – the ridiculously difficult, never-officially-released-in-the-West original sequel to the first game. All wonderful, majestic, essential and defining video games, that with the exception of The Lost Levels are games I have completed more times than I care to remember. Games that even now, some 15-20 years after first playing, I can still remember the individual levels and theme-tunes for. Games that, in the case of Super Mario Bros. 3, have their maps permanently engrained into my conscience. Games whose secrets I’ll take to the grave and whose memories live on long after I packed their dusty faded consoles away in the loft.

All of which means that snapping up this Anniversary Edition should be a no-brainer right? Well while in principal it sounds like a brilliant release that’s guaranteed to leave you shedding a nostalgic tear come Christmas Day – even if like me you’re in your early 30s, unfortunately, the reality is not quite so rosy and full of sparkly fireworks in the bright blue sky.

First of all the game is an exact port of the SNES release from way back in 1993. And I’m not using the term port loosely here. It is the original game re-packaged - an exact facsimile. A copy to the extent that Nintendo hasn’t even bothered to update the in-game instruction graphics. Which means that instead of seeing a representation of the Wii Remote, Classic or GameCube controller – all viable control options - people new to the franchise will instead be lost trying to work out where exactly the X and Y buttons are and why the A and B buttons are green and red respectively.

And while the Wii saw Nintendo dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century thanks to its widescreen support and component input, there’s been no such visual update applied to All-Stars, meaning it’s instead awkwardly shoe-horned into the middle of your HDTV with huge borders and chunky pixels aplenty. And for those of you that cared enough to import the American cartridge back in the day, you’ll be disappointed to hear that Nintendo has even gone so far as to accurately emulate the inferior 50Hz PAL release of the title.

But what’s even more galling is what’s missing from this celebration. How can the 25th Anniversary Edition of the world’s most famous gaming icon claim to be so without the imperious Super Mario World or Yoshi’s Island? And while there’ll inevitably be those of you that claim Nintendo should have even gone one further and included Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, I could have forgiven Nintendo for that oversight had it at least been consistent in delivering all of the classic 2D games in the series.

And the fact that Nintendo didn’t even see fit to apply the same level of spit and polish that it so lovingly painted over its most recent re-invention of the 2D Platformer with New Super Mario Bros, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth that’s actually blackened my mood. This could have been a genuine celebration, the ultimate thank you to all those of us that bought Super Mario Bros. first on the NES,  then on the SNES, then on the GameBoy Advance and then all over again on the Wii’s virtual console. Hell I’d have paid full price for NSMB-updated versions of these classic titles. What's particularly damning is that there's an unofficial hacked version of Super Mario Bros. 3 done entirely using the New Super Mario Bros engine by an ardent fan of the series. If he can do it, why can't Nintendo with all of its resources and the actual original code and assets do it? This is most definitely an opportunity missed.

In fact I actually consider this to be an insult from Nintendo and one for which it'll rightly be accused of complacency. Its success with the Wii is going to its head and it thinks it can cynically re-release the same games time and again. In fact the only positive thing I can say at this juncture is that it's only the original games' quality that ultimately shines through and redeems this package. If you've never played any of these titles then this is undoubtedly an ideal opportunity to pick them up at a bargain price. But if like me, you've been stung once, twice, thrice before, then save your money and download an emulator. You call this a celebration? I call this a cynical cash-in.

User Comments:

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Rhythm - on 07/12/2010 at 07:54 wrote:
Bravo for calling them out. I'm not so concerned about the lack of updated graphics but refusing to alter the controller prompts smacks of laziness and insisting on only packaging the NES titles is insulting. There's absolutely no excuse for them to not have made this an anthology release, including all the major Mario releases of the last 25 years. Well, no reason other than in might impinge on their VC sales.

peej - on 07/12/2010 at 09:01 wrote:
As Rhythm said, bravo - The whole thing just stinks of an opportunistic release to try and cash in on the 25th Anniversary's future value to collectors rather than giving anyone a nice roundup package of reminiscence to wrap their joypad around.

Nintendo have always been like this though. I remember when the PS1 first arrived on the scene and the SNES was actually also still on sale, with SNES games still selling for the same price as PS1 games. Ridiculous but Nintendo seems hell bent on milking each and every one of its games at a premium price and relaunching them on every subsequent platform so it's no shock to find that this release was pared down.

Kay - on 07/12/2010 at 12:00 wrote:
Yeah, even by Nintendo's usual standards this is shocking. At the very least they should have included Super Mario World (Yoshi's Island too, but that's not really considered to be part of the main series), and possibly Mario 64 and Sunshine as well. And sticking with the old PAL format was bad enough with the VC, what possible reason could they have for doing the same with a disc collection? Seriously, I'd really like to ask someone at Nintendo about this.

When you consider the recent likes of the PoP and Sly Racoon Trilogies - proper HD anthologies of games that were released in the last decade - this 25th Anniversary 'celebration' of arguably the greatest series ever looks even more pathetic. What an utter shame.

TheBoy - on 08/12/2010 at 09:58 wrote:
Yeah, also really disappointed with Nintendo on this. Normally this is the sort of thing I'd be all over, but even at a budget price, I'm not going to buy yet another version of 4 games I already own.

It's such a shame that to have made it into a no brainer purchase was so simple in many ways. Giving the graphics a NSMB style update, adding in a few other 2D Mario games, etc.

As is, it's very sloppy and shoddy from Nintendo. I actually hope it fails to sell in any great numbers just to show them this isn't on!

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