Mario Bros.

Mario decided to bring his brother along to kick around some turtles.

Review Date: January 30, 2021

Release Date: July 20, 1983

Platform: Atari 800 (but really, it’s the 5200)

Developer: Nintendo

Genre: Linear Platformer

Anecdotes: Another game Nintendo released on Atari before Nintendo had its own system, Mario Bros. was the first game named after Nintendo’s mascot and most iconic character, Mario. (I had thought that this game was when he was first named, but his name is clearly Mario in the Donkey Kong manuals.) It also introduced his brother, Luigi. The game also created a lot of staples that carried over to the Super Mario franchise, such as POW blocks, green pipes, and turtles.

The turtles, coin, and fireball all made it to Super Mario, but Mario doesn’t shoot the fireballs here. Fireballs are enemies, and they’re really annoying.

My online identity came from Mario. My first name is Matthew and the Spanish form is Mateo. I came up with the name Super Mateo because it sounded a lot like Super Mario. Mario isn’t Super yet in this game, but I’ll be starting the NES era on Thursday and Mario is present in a handful of launch titles.

Description: Turtles and other enemies emerge from pipes in the upper corners of the screen. They must be hit from below or feel the effect of the POW block until they stand still. At that point, you have just a few seconds to kick them off the screen. Levels are a single screen and end when all defeatable enemies are kicked off the screen. You play as Mario or Luigi. Single players play as Mario; a 2 player game has both players on screen at once, which can be either competitive or cooperative.

Positives: The concept is easy to understand. Mario has plenty of lives, and the game is generous to offer Mario immunity after losing a life. With the right timing, Mario can actually jump backwards. Mario can also wrap around the screen, but so can the enemies. The game offers players short breaks with timed levels that only have coins in them. I’m glad Mario can’t stomp in this game; I feel that would make it too easy.

Can I use those coins to buy some tools to fix the pipes? They got creatures in them.

Negatives: Mario’s controls are very clunky. Mario slides around like every level is on ice. Mario has a delayed response to the buttons that are pressed. And then there’s the POW block. The POW block doesn’t appear to reset between levels, and it’s barely effective when it can be used. It doesn’t work on enemies hiding in pipes and enemies in the air. It has the reverse effect on enemies that are already stunned.

Forget the turtles; now I’m getting attacked by seafood. The crabs have to be hit twice to stun them.

Grade: C

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