Mario Bros. is a classic arcade game developed by Nintendo, released in 1983 as an arcade game and later ported to many home systems. It was a spin-off of the Donkey Kong series. It was the first game to feature Mario's name in the title, as well as the debut of Mario's brother, Luigi. Unlike in Donkey Kong, where he was a carpenter, in this game Mario is a plumber, exterminating pests who exit from pipes (including the soon-to-be trademark Koopa Troopa, then called Shellcreepers). It was very popular until Super Mario Bros. came out, and then its popularity declined.
The game took place on a single screen that wrapped-around when a player went all the way off screen. There are three stories or platforms, and pipes at the top. Out of these pipes come various bad guys, such as Koopas, crabs and flies. As Mario & Luigi, players go around the level bopping the floor underneath the enemies to trip them and send them on their back. Once disabled, players can simply run into them to gain points. If they leave an enemy for too long on their back, they will get back up, stronger than before.
There is also a POW Block in the middle of the level. When hit (by jumping underneath it), it will hit all things on screen. Coins occasionally come out of the pipes, which the two players must race to collect. Once all enemies have been cleared, the level progresses to the next one. The other levels usually have the same basic format, with different enemies, enemy movements, and colors.
Mario Bros. was created by Shigeru Miyamoto and Gunpei Yokoi, two of the lead developers for the video game Donkey Kong. In Donkey Kong, Mario dies if he falls too far. Yokoi suggested to Miyamoto that he should be able to fall from any height, which Miyamoto was not sure of, thinking that it would make it "not much of a game." He eventually agreed, thinking it would be okay for him to have some super-human abilities. He designed a prototype that had Mario "jumping and bouncing around", which he was satisfied with. The element of combating enemies from below was introduced after Yokoi suggested it, observing that it would work since there were multiple floors. However, it proved to be too easy to eliminate enemies this way, which the developers fixed by requiring players to touch the enemies after they've been flipped to defeat them. This was also how they introduced the turtle as an enemy, which they conceived as an enemy that could only be hit from below. Because of Mario's appearance in Donkey Kong, with overalls, a hat, and a thick moustache, Shigeru Miyamoto thought that he should be a plumber as opposed to a carpenter, and designed this game to reflect that. Another contributing factor was the game's setting: it was a large network of giant pipes, so they felt a change in occupation was necessary for him. A popular story of how Mario went from Jumpman to Mario is that Miyamoto's Italian-American landlord, Mario Segale, had barged in on them to demand rent, and they decided to name Jumpman after him. Miyamoto also felt that the best setting for this game was New York because of its "labyrinthine subterranean network of sewage pipes." The pipes were inspired by several mangas, which Miyamoto states features waste grounds with pipes lying around it. In this game, they were used in a way to allow the enemies to enter and exit the stage through them to avoid getting enemies piled up on the bottom of the stage. The green coloring of the pipes, which Nintendo president Satoru Iwata calls an uncommon color, came from Miyamoto having a limited color palette and wanting to keep things colorful. He added that green was the best because it worked well when two shades of it were combined. Mario Bros. is one of the first platform games ever created, along with Donkey Kong. It also introduced Mario's brother, Luigi, who was created for the multiplayer mode by doing a palette swap of Mario. The two-player mode and several aspects of gameplay were inspired by an earlier video game called Joust. To date, Mario Bros. has been released for more than a dozen platforms. The first movement from Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik is used to open each phase. This song has been used in later video games, including Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix and Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Ports and follow-ups
Mario Bros. has been re-released many times by itself and as a sub-game in other games. It was also rereleased on the Wii's Virtual Console service in North America, Australia, Europe and Japan. It is also remade on copies of games in the Game Boy Advance's Super Mario Advance games as well as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, and it was included as a mini-game in Super Mario Bros. 3. The NES version was included as a piece of furniture in Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube, along with many other NES games, though this one required the use of an Nintendo e-Reader, a Game Boy Advance accessory, and an Animal Crossing e-Card. This version was released in the second series of NES e-Cards as well, and was also released in the Famicom Mini series, the Japanese variant of the Classic NES Series of games. It never came outside of Japan. A remake was made called Mario Bros. Classic—known as Kaettekita Mario Bros. (かえってきたマリオブラザーズ?, Return of Mario Bros. or Mario Bros. Returns) in Japan—featuring similar gameplay with added features and new revisions to the gameplay. It also featured cut-scenes and advertisements. It is very rare since it was only available as a Disk Writer promotion In 1984, Hudson Soft made two different games based on Mario Bros. The first was Mario Bros. Special, which was a re-imagining of the original Mario Bros. with new phases, mechanics and gameplay. The second was Punch Ball Mario Bros., which featured a new gameplay mechanic involving punching small balls to stun enemies. Both games were released only for the NEC PC-8801 and FM-7. Both games have been described as average for the most part, neither the best or worst games in the series.A sequel to Mario Bros., Mario Clash, was released in 1995. The games were released for the Virtual Boy and produced by Nintendo. It is the first 3D Mario game and is heavily based on Mario Bros.. The objective of the game is to knock all the enemies in a particular phase off ledges. Instead of hitting them from below, like in Mario Bros., the player must hit enemies using Koopa shells.
4/5 (Atari 5200)
|GameSpot||4.9/10 (Virtual Console)|
|IGN||4.5/10 (Virtual Console)
Mario Bros. was only modestly successful in the arcades in Japan. The arcade cabinets have since become mildly rare. To date in Japan, the NES version of Mario Bros. has sold more than 1.63 million copies, and the Famicom Mini re-release of the NES version has sold more than 90,000 copies. Despite being released during the North American video game crash of 1983, the arcade game, as well as the industry, were not affected. Video game author Dave Ellis considers it one of the more memorable classic games. The game was subsequently ported to the Apple II, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit computers, Atari 7800, Amstrad CPC, Sinclair Spectrum, and Commodore 64. The last system had two versions: the Atarisoft port released in 1984 and a version by Ocean Software in 1986. Mario Bros. is slated for release on the Nintendo 3DS, and may feature camera support, 3D support, or analog support. This release was featured amongst other games from the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES to be released for the 3DS on a tech demo called Classic Games at E3 2010.
Opinions on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) version of Mario Bros. have been mostly mixed. In a review of the Virtual Console game, GameSpot criticized the NES version for being a poor port of the arcade version. The Virtual Console version in particular was heavily criticized. GameSpot criticized it, saying that not only is it a port of an inferior version, but it retains all of the technical flaws found in this version. It also criticizes the Mario Bros. ports in general, saying that this is just one of many ports that have been made of it throughout Nintendo's history. IGN complimented the Virtual Console version's gameplay, though it made no comparison between the arcade and NES versions. IGN also agreed on the issue of the number of ports. They said that since most people have Mario Bros. on one of the Super Mario Advance games, this version is not worth 500 Wii Points. The Nintendo e-Reader version of Mario Bros. was slightly more well received by IGN, who praised the gameplay, but criticized it for lack of multiplayer and for not being worth the purchase because of the Super Mario Advance versions. The Super Mario Advance releases and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga all featured the same version of Mario Bros.. The mode was first included in Super Mario Advance, and was praised for its simplicity and entertainment value. IGN called this mode fun in its review of Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2, but complained that it would have been nice if the developers had come up with a new game to replace it. Their review of Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 criticizes it more so than in the review of Super Mario Advance 2, because Nintendo chose to remove several mini-games found in the Super NES version of that game and replace them with an identical version of the Mario Bros. game found in previous versions. GameSpot's review of Super Mario Bros. 3: Super Mario Advance 4 calls it a throwaway feature that could have simply been gutted. Other reviewers were not as negative on the feature's use in later Super Mario Advance games. Despite its use being criticized in most Super Mario Advance games, a GameSpy review called the version found in Super Mario Advance 2 a blast to play in multi-player because it only requires at least two Game Boy Advances, one copy of the game, and a link cableGallery
Famicom box art
- Mario Bros. entry on the Killer List of Videogames
- Category at ODP
- Mario Bros. complete guide at The Mario Bros
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