Super Mario All-Stars (Super Nintendo) Review

By Joel Burton 08.03.2006

Review for Super Mario All-Stars on Super Nintendo

Riding in on the coat-tails of the all-conquering Super Mario World, Mario All Stars proved a move that was both wise and generous of Nintendo. Wise, because it offered another chance to sample Mario's classic delights at a time when the gaming world was hungry for all-things-plumber, and generous because - rather than provide straightforward conversions - Nintendo took the time and care to make use of the SNES's technical capabilities and give each game a major graphical overhaul.

All Stars consists of the original Super Mario Bros and its two legendary sequels, alongside The Lost Levels; an adventure previously unseen on Western shores (though available in Japan as the second Mario game; a complication which I won't go into here, lest it fry all our brains).

Screenshot for Super Mario All-Stars on Super Nintendo

There's little new that can be said about the gameplay; traditional 2D Mario mechanics are as familiar to gamers as apple pie. In short, you guide a bundle of red-and-blue pixels across the screen, left-to-right, avoiding obstacles and making use of strategically positioned platforms. It's far from rocket science, though remains an immortal formula, which still - albeit more discretely these days - informs countless of the games we play today.

Super Mario Bros 1 -3 are all undisputed classics in their own right, making All Stars as much a history lesson as anything (and one that is still beneficial to this day). To play this holy trinity through in order is to witness the development and evolution not just of the 'Mario' character, but of the world he inhabits, and the way in which this world is approached and explored.

Screenshot for Super Mario All-Stars on Super Nintendo

By the time the NES was reaching the end of its lifespan, SMB1 already seemed a very basic and simplistic game; a little hard on the eyes, and gentle on the fingers - yet never lost any of its sense of fun and achievement. SMB2 - never a conventional 'Mario' game even its own time (and never originally intended as such anyway) is a deeper and marginally more freeform experience, that shifted the focus slightly away from the titular plumber and encouraged more appreciation of other characters and aspects of the world around them - while SMB3, the jewel in this compilation's crown (and indeed, of the NES' back-catalogue) is an immense and engaging title that both demonstrated and embraced the potential of the franchise; perfecting the platform game and celebrating the surreal, slightly anarchic nature of the Mushroom Kingdom, via creative use of power-up costumes, varied environments and brilliantly characterised monsters (and let's not forget, it also includes a multiplayer bonus of the original single-screen Mario Bros game). Everything that made this trilogy so great is beautifully re-captured in the All Stars compilation, meaning that new and seasoned gamers alike had - upon its release - every reason to invest.

And then to the Lost Levels; the one game in the bundle that doesn't demonstrate any significant progress; it feels more like Super Mario Bros 1.5 - replicating exactly the graphics and gameplay of the first title and transplanting them onto a new set of levels. Far more difficult and demanding that any of Mario's other ventures, yet no more rewarding, the Lost Levels serves more as a curio item than an essential ingredient; it certainly adds value to the package, but is the one title here that perhaps wouldn't work so well as a standalone title: The reasons for its original absence in the West are pretty clear, and few gamers will lament not having played it the first time around.

Screenshot for Super Mario All-Stars on Super Nintendo

Picking holes in such an offering as Mario All Stars is difficult, and possibly futile; my only real gripe, as a fan of the originals, is that the graphical overhaul does not necessarily do the games any major justice. The Mario gameplay was always greater than its visuals; the original titles were never any less for being graphically inferior, and here, they are no more impressive for having 'updated' graphics. It may give NES veterans an excuse to play the old favourites - but in reality, no excuse was ever necessary (and, in all honesty, I still favour the NES originals over these newer translations). It's also worth noting that, sharper and more colourful the visuals may be in All Stars, they still fall some distance behind the sumptuous looks of Mario World; don't expect to be dazzled in this department.

Overall though, All Stars is- and ever was - an irresistible little collection. Three indispensable games and one pleasant bonus makes for something that deserves a treasured place in every gamer's back-catalogue.

Screenshot for Super Mario All-Stars on Super Nintendo

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

A wonderful compilation of Mario's Greatest Hits; these are games to be cherished, remembered and revisited regularly - and All Stars provides the perfect way to do just that.






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (14 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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