The actual original Mario Bros. was an arcade game released by Nintendo in 1983 by Shigeru Miyamoto (yes, you can bow down if you’d like) and then ported to the NES later. Yes, it is available for your Wii Virtual Console so you can see where it all started, but Mario Bros. isn’t anything new if you’ve played Super Mario Bros. 3 at least.
Story (3 out of 5)
Mario and his brother Luigi (the first time Luigi appears in a video game, for all of you keeping score), are plumbers sent to clean up the sewers of New York City, which have some how become overrun with monsters. Okay, not actual scary monsters, like oversized alligators or something, but mildly threatening things like turtles (Koopas) and crabs (Sidesteppers). While there is no princess saving to be done (yet) it is still respectable work. Hey, it was hard for a video game plumber back in the early 80’s. Know what I mean?
Gameplay (2 out of 5)
If you have played Super Mario Bros. 3 you should be familiar with the gameplay of Mario Bros. Remember that little Mario vs. Luigi mini-game that was available? Well, that’s Mario Bros. but with worse graphics and slightly different enemies.
The goal of each level is to clear a certain number of enemies and earn a certain number of points. Enemies (and coins) emerge from two pipes at the top of the screen and work their way down to two pipes at the bottom. There are a number of platforms which can be accessed by jumping on them (if you walk off screen on one side you’ll appear on the other side) and used to knock enemies upside down by knocking Mario or Luigi’s head on the platform below them (like blocks in Super Mario Bros.). Some enemies can also be jumped on directly. Once an enemy is upside down Mario must kick it off screen to get the points. If not, the enemy will get up and be angry, so watch out! Oh, and there are also randomly appearing fireballs which can kill you. And let’s not forget the infamous POW block which knocks every enemy onscreen upside down in one go (or right-side up if they were already upside down).
To began with Mario only has two lives, but you can earn more by gathering coins. At the end of every few levels there is a bonus level in which you run around and see how many coins you can collect.
Using the Wiimote to control Mario is easy. However, Mario is really slow and takes a long time to get anywhere, even though the area is small. It looks like the Wii Virtual Console version didn’t do anything to update the movement from the original NES version.
Along with the single player mode, you can play two player. With one person as Mario and one as Luigi you can either help each other clear the sewers together or compete for higher scores and back-stab each other whenever the opportunity arises.
Graphics and Sound (1 out of 5)
Wow, does Mario Bros. look dated. It doesn’t even look dated in a cute way. It just looks old and worn out. Super Mario Bros. has better graphics by leaps and bounds, and that’s really saying something. The backgrounds are all black (it is a sewer) and the only thing that changes per level is the color of the platforms and the enemies. After playing the Super Mario Bros. 3 version this one just looks antiquated.
Sound-wise Mario Bros. suffers from the same problem. This is before the catchy music of Super Mario Bros. and the sound here is, while not bad, totally forgettable. There is nothing about it that stands out one way or the other and that really is a shame.
Sewer Cleaning Action! Eww!
Fun (2 out of 5)
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to be had in the Wii release of Mario Bros. The two player mode is fun for a while, but the snail’s pace at which Mario and Luigi move really puts a damper on how long I could play it. It is nice to see Mario in the first game he could call his own, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the updated versions of it Nintendo has already released.
Overall (2 out of 5)
500 Wii points is just too expensive for little more than a mini-game. Sure, Mario Bros. is a classic but that doesn’t mean you should waste your money. Spend it on Super Mario Bros. 3 if you want to play a better version of this classic. At least you’ll get a full game with it.