Super Mario All-Stars Review

By Scott Alan Marriott - Posted Dec 17, 2010

No one can argue the quality or playability of the featured games in this collection, but it's hard not to expect more from Nintendo. Re-releasing a 17-year-old compilation on disc for its most important character's silver anniversary is a huge disappointment, though those who haven't yet experienced these versions won't care in the slightest.

The Pros
  • Four 8-bit Mario games with a 16-bit presentation
  • Save your progress in each game
  • Includes Japan's original follow-up to Super Mario Bros.
The Cons
  • It's nothing more than the vanilla Super NES version
  • No unlockable extras or bonus games
  • Soundtrack CD could be better

Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition Review:

Twenty-fifth anniversaries are something special, but you can't help but think Mario's 25th kind of snuck up on Nintendo. Like a husband shuffling and scrambling to throw something together on the day of his wedding anniversary, Nintendo is celebrating Mario's momentous occasion by re-gifting something that's been sitting in the closet for 17 years. Super Mario All-Stars has been lifted from a cartridge and slapped onto a disc without a single piece of new content or added change aside from support for the Wii remote (horizontally, of course).

Super Mario All-Stars

Playing with Power?

Of course, this in no way should disparage Mario fans from buying this collection -- just serve as a warning for those not paying attention to what this release consists of. All four titles on the disc were originally released for Nintendo's Super NES console in 1993, on a single 16-megabit cartridge, which was something quite special at the time. Mario's complete adventures on the NES were given a modern (at the time) look to keep it in line with the presentation introduced in Super Mario World.

Background stages were given added color, depth, and new animated objects, such as twinkling stars or swaying bushes. The music had been updated as well, along with new character art for Mario, who has packed on a few more pounds to make him a bit more "rounder." As a special treat, the original sequel to Super Mario Bros., previously available only in Japan, had been included as "the Lost Levels." There were even minor tweaks to the gameplay, mainly to fix lingering glitches from the original releases. You could also save your progress, making each game more accommodating to those who can't play for hours at a time, at the expense of making the titles somewhat easier to complete. It was a great collection back then, and it's a great collection now.

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An Opportunity Goes Down the Pipe

But it's hard not to chastise Nintendo for treating Mario with such a cavalier attitude. Why not add some scoring-based achievements to give each title some added life? After all, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe on Game Boy Color helped reinvigorate the original 1985 classic by incorporating a challenge mode that involved finding five red coins, reaching a certain score, and discovering a hidden Yoshi egg on each level. It also featured head-to-head racing with Mario and Luigi in a versus mode. Not only that, but Nintendo could have easily included Super Mario World as an unlockable bonus for completing all four titles. The strange thing is that versions of Super Mario All-Stars in 1994 actually included Super Mario World on the cartridge as part of a special bundle with new Super NES consoles.

Super Mario All-Stars

Sure, it's only $30 and a title that's destined to fetch more than twice (or more) its asking price on eBay after the limited run expires, but this is no ordinary character and no ordinary publisher. If Sega could manage to release all six 16-bit Sonic games and spin-offs plus over 30 other Genesis titles, on-disc video interviews, and nine Sega Master System titles for the same asking price, as part of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, is it really too much to ask Nintendo to release something more worthy for their mustachioed mascot's 25th?

When he was managing the Cincinnati Reds, Pete Rose reportedly advised players on his team to refrain from signing autographs for free, because it would diminish their value over time. The same philosophy seems to influence the powers-that-be at Nintendo, who guards its games like Donkey Kong defends his banana hoard, refusing to give anything out as bonuses when there's money to be made. It's why there are no more NES cartridges to collect in the Animal Crossing series, and why Virtual Console titles have no added online multiplayer support or other refinements. As long as people keep paying, there's no real point in creating added value.

Super Mario All-Stars

Limited Edition, Indeed

Super Mario All-Stars is a bona fide classic compilation of enhanced 8-bit blockbusters that's guaranteed to please both young fans of Mario and older players who originally grew up with these titles, but somehow passed on the original cartridge during its first few runs on Super NES. Yet it's five-star gameplay with a three-star effort. A history booklet and compact disc, with half of the 20 tracks being sound effects, isn't quite deserving of such an iconic figure. Hopefully Nintendo will throw together something a little more special for the little guy's 30th. If he's not worthy, nobody is.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?