If you’re reading this review to find out if the games found in Nintendo’s 25th Anniversary Mario All-stars pack areworth playing, let me save you some time – they are. But be honest, you already knew that. These are three of the most influential and most classic games of all time that even the most jaded gamer will have fond memories of. Where the value of the pack comes into question though is with its presentation and extras. A few questionable exclusions and a thin package make Mario All-Stars a bit of a surprisingly disappointing collection.
If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll recognize the Mario All-Stars pack from its original release on the Super Nintendo way back in 1993. Hell, it even says it on the back of the box. Now, this isn’t a new version of that game, it is that game. From the menu system to the copyright dates and everything in between, it’s clear that Nintendo just plucked the data from the cartridge and plopped it on to the CD. Some also might be disappointed that Super Mario World, widely viewed as one of the best of the Mario franchise. Nintendo even produced an alternate version of the original Super Mario All-Stars with the plumbers 16-bit debut included, why not include it here? The game is available on the Wii-shop channel, so it could just be a bit of smart marketing, but it would have been nice to see it in included.
This year and next, Sony is releasing HD collections of some of their greatest hits from the Team Ico collection to Sly, and none of them hold nearly as much weight as Nintendo’s perennial plumber – it’s just sad that this collection didn’t get the same retouches. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for newly imagined and stylized versions of these classic games, but perhaps just a few touchups. The game runs at a disappointing 50hz, far below what even the Wii can do.
Technical nitpicks aside; the collection is a stunning reminder of just how timeless these games truly are. The original Super Mario Bros, its sequel, Mario 3 and Mario the Lost Levels are all included, and each one feels just as fresh as it did when it first launched. A bit of a history lesson, the Lost Levels game in this package was the original sequel to Super Mario Bros but wasn’t released in the United States in fear of it being too hard for American gamers. Instead we got the game that we know as Super Mario Bros 2, a re-skinned version of Japanese game Doki Doki Panic. Having both on the disc (much like they were in the 1993 version) showcases just how different the gaming industry was way back when. Super Mario Bros 2 proper is a distant departure from the now famous formula, while the Lost Levels package is one of the toughest platforming experiences of all time.
Interestingly enough, the pack serves as away to educate newer gamers on just where the franchise and in many aspects the gaming industry as we know it came from. You know, the type of gamer that thinks that Mario’s history started with Mario Kart. It’s amazing that these simple mechanics are still so enticing, even to a generation that grew up with HD gaming.
The re-release of the Mario All-Stars collection is done so in celebration of the franchise’s 25th anniversary and comes packed in a fancy red box, a history book and a collection of music from the series. While the package has been kept thin in an effort to keep the price down (the whole thing goes for $29.99), I would have gladly paid full price for more. Special Editions for games like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed come with mini-busts and replica items; I would have loved to have seen something like this for gaming’s most famous protagonist.
The Blast Factor: Super Mario All-stars will remind you of just why you’re a gamer. It may not be as big of a package as you’d expect, but it’s still more than worth it. This is a collection of some of the greatest games in history, and they’ll always have a place in many gamer’s hearts. Go out, get the Mario All-Stars collection and fall in love with gaming all over again.