I spent a great deal of my time as a child playing video games. I certainly could have spent my time engaging in more productive activities and I imagine I’d be better off today as a result, but unfortunately nobody has gotten around to designing and perfecting a time machine, so I’m not going to dwell on what could have been. Actually, I am, in a sense, because I’m going to be discussing what Nintendo could have done to make Super Mario All Stars worthy of being purchased in my eyes.
I grew up playing the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. My parents were always buying me Super Mario video games because they knew how much I enjoyed playing Mario games. I played Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World and I had a blast stomping what appeared to be walking muffins but were actually goombas, trekking through lava-filled castles, jumping or flying over vast pits and rescuing a princess time and again that apparently belonged to a poor kingdom that couldn’t afford decent bodyguards. When Nintendo released Super Mario All Stars on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, a collection of past Mario games all conveniently crammed onto one cartridge, I played the games all over again, and this time, I was treated to more colorful and detailed levels and worlds thanks to the more powerful Super Nintendo Entertainment System hardware.
Now, it’s 2010. Nintendo is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Mario. Mario is Nintendo’s mascot and a major cash cow for the company. It’s because of Mario that Nintendo has been able to survive and strive in the video game industry. How is Nintendo celebrating the anniversary of a character that has brought the company so much success, profit and recognition? The company is doing it by re-releasing a video game collection that first debuted on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993. Oh, and the company is throwing in a little booklet that covers the history of Mario as well as a very limited soundtrack. That’s a real fantastic idea that someone at Nintendo had. It’s a fantastic idea in a sense that Nintendo basically had to do no work transferring the collection of four video games from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System’s game cartridge to the Nintendo Wii’s game disc and now the company is going to sell what is essentially a copy and paste job for $30.00. Nintendo didn’t bother to update the visuals or the music. Nintendo didn’t bother to add some new levels. Nintendo doesn’t care about celebrating Mario’s 25th anniversary the proper way. Nintendo only cared about coming up with a cheap, easy way to cash in on the event.
All of the Mario games that are a part of the “new” Super Mario All Stars, or Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition as this video game release may also be known by, have been re-released several times over by now on multiple formats. Previous re-releases have even added new modes and modifications to the gameplay. Yet this version doesn’t. This version contains the games as they appeared on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System game cartridge with none of the features added to the later re-releases. Nintendo didn’t even bother to update the Super Mario All Stars game by adding Super Mario 64, which would have at least represented Mario’s venture into 3-D gaming, which was a very big thing in 1996. Aside from the history booklet and the limited soundtrack, the Super Mario All-Stars – 25th Anniversary Edition game ignores Mario’s 3-D outings. The 3-D Mario games are just as big of a part of Mario’s history as the 2-D games are.
What Nintendo should have done was design a new game from the ground up. Each world could have contained levels that would have represented different “eras” of Mario’s history. World One could have featured graphics, music and gameplay in the style of the Nintendo Entertainment System Mario games. The world would feature all new levels though, not just levels lifted from previous games. World Two could have been modeled after the Mario games made for the Game Boy, and so on, leading up to the Nintendo Wii Super Mario Galaxy games. This would have allowed gamers to experience where Mario as a character has been, how he’s evolved and where he is now while still delivering new levels and new challenges. Yet Nintendo chose not to go this route and instead took the easy way out.
I don’t blame Nintendo for wanting to make money. I understand where the company is coming from. That doesn’t mean though that I’m not disappointed in what Nintendo came up with for Mario’s 25th anniversary. I won’t purchase this Super Mario collection special pack when it’s released because I don’t see it as being worth $30.00. When I think of what could have been, it only makes me want to avoid this game even more. I guess there’s always the thirtieth anniversary, and hopefully by then, Nintendo will have a real treat for gamers in the form of a video game that’s far more worthy of being labeled an “anniversary edition”.