Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Platform Game Review: VS. Super Mario Bros.

VS. Super Mario Bros., released in 1986, is an adaptation of Super Mario Bros. for the VS. System arcade platform. It isn't a simple port, however, as it includes some different levels in comparison to the home console version.

In 1985, when Super Mario Bros. was released, Nintendo still had a presence in the arcade market. The VS. System was an arcade platform based on the Nintendo Entertainment System, with interchangeable palettes. This allowed games to be converted between the systems pretty easily. However, as VS. Super Mario Bros. was a game for the arcade market, Shigeru Miyamoto's Nintendo Research & Development 4 opted to replace some levels with harder levels as well as changing things such as hidden block locations and warp pipes to mix things up.

I played the game in an arcade, once, when I was a little girl on vacation with my family in Sodus Point, New York. I was an avid reader of Nintendo Power, so I knew all of the warp zones in Super Mario Bros. I tried walking along the ceiling to use the warp pipe on the second level of world one. I was surprised when it took me to the second world instead of the fourth, and I knew that I was playing a different beast than the game I mastered at home. I'm sure I wasn't the only person to be surprised on their first playthrough. I didn't get too far in the game, and I never saw this arcade game again.

The game contains all of the hallmarks of the home console version, including blocks, coins, growth mushrooms, fireball fireflowers, 1-UP extra life mushrooms, and invincibility starmen. In addition, most of the levels are from the home console version. However, as it's an arcade game, the new levels are quite hard. I didn't complete the game when I was young and didn't manage to complete it until decades later when it finally received a home conversion.

The developers loved creating harder levels so much that they created enough new levels to make a whole game, which became Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels. Unlike that game, however, VS. Super Mario Bros. remains a one or two-player game. It also lacks the harder gameplay elements such as the poison mushroom and levels with the wind.

Since it lacks the poison mushroom and wind, it is easier to recommend VS. Super Mario Bros. Because it doesn't have the gradual difficulty climb and because some levels are extremely difficult, it doesn't have the replayability of Super Mario Bros. However, It might be worth playing if you're a fan of Super Mario or platform games, especially since it was finally released to home and handheld console players on Nintendo Switch through emulation by Hamster in their Arcade Archives series.

Final Verdict: 
4 out of 5

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