Super Mario Bros. Deluxe
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo
Game Boy Colour/Virtual Console
It’s rough when you hit hard times and have to do degrading things. Say, just for example, you’re a recently graduated journalism student with no job or money (to the point where you can’t even afford The Amazing Deals Posted Everyday Here At Frugal Gaming!) and have to subject yourself to signing up for the Nintendo Network just because they promise you a free game out of it. In this case the free game is Super Mario Bros Deluxe off the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS, and granted it’s originally a Game Boy Colour game from 1999 but a lot of people are probably playing it right now and got it for free so it’s not exactly off the Frugal Gaming message so let’s give it a review.
Actually let’s not review it for this paragraph and briefly touch on Nintendo’s Virtual Console. Let’s get this straight Nintendo, you allow people to create their own save states on the 3DS, but you absolutely do not allow anyone to alter the controls. Super Mario Bros Deluxe defaults to B for run and A to jump on the 3DS, possibly (and irritatingly) simply because those buttons have the same name as the Game Boy buttons. However, the game is designed for the Game Boy/NES button layout which means it would make more sense for Y to be run and B to jump. Maybe the default scheme works for you, maybe you also pour Mountain Dew on a bowl of grass shards for breakfast, but the fact that there’s no option to change this is unacceptable.
So keep that in mind, for that reason alone this game is probably a lot less fun to play on the 3DS than it was to play on the Game Boy Colour. Having said that, Super Mario Bros Deluxe is still dumb.
Super Mario Bros. Deluxe is a remake/touch up job of the original Super Mario Bros; this review also isn’t going to comment too much on the original Super Mario Bros because there’s already more content online about why that game is a masterpiece than there are My Little Pony avatars. So let’s assume the original is the classic that it’s recognised as and discuss Deluxe on its own merits.
The first noticeable change gameplay wise is the camera, the Game Boy Colour unfortunately didn’t have the screen size to contain all of Super Mario Bros radness at once so Deluxe is sort of like playing the original game through a hole in a fence. Tapping up and down on the D-Pad moves the camera up and down to make up for this, but two huge issues come with this. First off, there are times where you’re “big Mario” and need to crouch to avoid obstacles and you don’t exactly want the camera crashing into the floor and lose your bearings, and secondly if you’re playing this on 3DS you’re probably using the analog stick rather than the disgustingly awful D-Pad so it’s easy to accidentally jiggle the camera around.
It’s probably fair to say that the limitations of the Game Boy Colour pretty much make Super Mario Bros Deluxe objectively worse than the original, the issues with the camera placement that the original didn’t have at all make it easy for the player to lose their bearings or on some stages not see the floor or platforms they’re jumping to and “leap of faith” gameplay rears its ugly head unwelcomely to a Mario title. Some of the additions are nice though, there are a few more colours and sound effects, and everything generally looks a bit bolder and brighter, also at the end of a castle stage Toad now does a little dance rather than passive aggressively standing still and flipping you off. There’s even a little jingle on the title screen now! If this game was a 1992 NES re-release of Super Mario Bros it would probably be pretty sweet.
It’s everything else about Deluxe that rubs the wrong way however. First off, why is there a map screen now? It serves no function other than giving the player the opportunity to switch between Mario and Luigi (who play exactly the same in this game remember). What is this, retroactive continuity? “Oh, the games after this had World Maps so this game has to have one too now.” The original Super Mario Bros is essentially a collection of rock solid platforming stages held together with string, and now they’re replacing the string with turkey twizzlers and made it all flabby. There’s no need for this to be there, and Nintendo basically admit this by letting you wham the start button to skip it entirely, a map screen with no functionality is just a couple of extra seconds between each level where you’re not playing the gosh darn videogame.
The grossest addition though is the “Checklist”, which comes in hand in hand with the map screen. From stage 1, you see a sheet of all the stages you’ve done and how many are left to go. Just…why, it’s Mario…just let the game be about the running and jumping that people crave. No-one wants to be dunked back into a map screen, watch a little sprite of Mario walk from one featureless blue dot to a featureless red dot, tick off the level and think “just 17 more stages to go!”
Really, this has all been pointless rambling since Deluxe basically reviews itself with its “bonus” features. These “bonus” features include; a calendar, a slideshow of unlockable pictures and (this isn’t a joke I swear) tarot cards. These had to be last minute additions, or maybe they were the ideas of some Make-a-Wish foundation kid visiting the Nintendo offices and they were guilted into using them. When you view the scrapbook of pictures there’s a nice little jingle, but when you actually select a picture to view the jingle stops and you stare at a stock picture of a Goomba that looks like it was drawn in Mario Paint…in complete silence, as if Deluxe is forcing you to have a quiet moment with yourself to think about what you’re doing with your life.
That is Deluxe’s review of itself, because at some point the designers realised how pointless the entire project was. Ultimately, it’s an inferior version of (at the time) a 15 year old game, so of course they dunk pointless “bonus” stuff into it to try and justify its experience. It’s impossible to recommend for purchase today in the context of the far superior Game Boy Advance remakes of classic Mario titles, and seeing as you could just buy the original and better Super Mario Bros on the same store.
But hey, if you got the game for free like I did, then you got to spend 15 minutes of your life playing a version of Super Mario Bros that has some title screen music.
Reviewer: Matthew Leslie