Mario changed the world. He’s one of the most iconic videogame characters of all time. His games are the touchstone titles of every Nintendo system. He has inspired much hyperbole and little clarity about his practical skills as a plumber. And it’s seemingly with the best of intentions that Nintendo wants to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the game that started it all, the original Super Mario Bros. for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Yet the anniversary-party favor, Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition, fails on every conceivable level, and a few inconceivable ones, too.
The core is a port of Super Mario All-Stars, the Super Nintendo title that contained versions of the original Mario game, its Japanese sequel, Super Mario Bros. 2 (otherwise known as Super Mario USA, otherwise known as “It was all a dream”) and Super Mario Bros. 3. Other than the option to use the Wii controller, the game is exactly as it was in 1993, when the ability to save your game on Nintendo titles was revolutionary. All-Stars Limited Edition touts “enhanced graphics and updated sound from the Super NES game,” which at the time meant rounding Mario’s 8-bit exterior and adding smiles to background clouds. It killed the throwback feel of the games in 1993, and it makes the game look and sound sad today. No concessions have been made to further improve any elements for the Wii; Nintendo didn’t even sub out the Super Nintendo controller in the diagram demonstrating which button does what.
The games, of course, are great, as they have always been. In fact, they’re great right now, sold separately in the WiiWare store with actual retro graphics—for a much lower price.
But this “limited edition” release wouldn’t be complete without additional bonus materials, and All-Stars finds ways to disappoint with those as well. There’s a CD containing Mario game themes, plus immortal classics like “1-UP,” a five-second track with one second of the 1-UP sound and four seconds of silence. (Perhaps “coin sound” is more your jam?) There’s also a booklet, for which someone interviewed Mario mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto and two other Nintendo higher-ups then cut the interviews down to only one pithy, vague one-liner per subject on each game. The accompanying art includes level designs obscured by pictures, and schematics written in Japanese with no translation. Happy anniversary.