Super Mario All-Stars: 25th Anniversary Review – No Stars For Effort

It’s been 25 years since Mario put on his world famous attire and set out on a journey to rescue Princess Toadstool, inadvertently capturing our hearts in the process. To celebrate this milestone Nintendo are re-releasing the critically acclaimed Super Mario All-Stars for the Wii in a special package which also contains a history book and soundtrack CD. We recently managed to get a hold of the Japanese version of the game and since Nintendo has confirmed that the European/American version will be virtually identical I’ve decided to post an early review for the fans.

A word of warning before you eagerly place the Super Mario All-Stars disc inside your Wii console, The Wii version of this beloved compilation is nothing more than a cheap port. Nintendo has essentially placed a SNES rom on to a DVD and have repackaged it hoping that you wouldn’t notice. What you’re getting here is the exact the same thing that Nintendo released in 1993, only this time much of the appeal is gone. When it was first released, All-Stars captured our hearts by updating the Mario games that we all know and love with contemporary graphics. So when the Wii version of All-Stars was announced last month, fans speculated that we’d see reincarnations of the NES games running on the New Super Mario Bros engine… but unfortunately no such love was given. To add salt in to the wound, Nintendo didn’t even bother to give us the updated version of Mario All-Stars which included Super Mario World, Instead they intentionally released an inferior product knowing that their fans will lap it up anyway. For those reasons I find it very hard to support or recommend this collection but Nintendo’s laziness doesn’t change the fact that all four games featured on this disc are all incredible.

For those unfamiliar with Super Mario All-Stars, this compilation features 16-bit renditions of Super Mario Bros 1 through 3. As an extra Nintendo also included “Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels” which was originally released in Japan as Super Mario Bros 2. The Japanese SMB 2 was never released outside of Japan as Nintendo felt it was too difficult and too similar to the first game as it featured the same music, graphics, story and structure. As well as new graphics and music, Super Mario All-Star also introduced Save Slots to the franchise which meant that you no longer had to finish each game in a single sitting. For that reason specifically I would recommend All-Stars over the original NES games but for Mario’s 25th Anniversary I would have loved to see these classic titles remade with present-day visuals. Fans have already tested out this concept for themselves and the results are amazing, it’s just a shame that Nintendo didn’t follow suit.

Running at just 26 minutes long, the CD which accompanies this collection is also a disappointment. Nintendo has boasted that the soundtrack will include songs from spanning from Super Mario Bros right up to Mario Galaxy 2 but in reality it merely contains 10 random themes and a few iconic sound-bites which are no longer than 10 seconds each.

Here is the full track list

01  Aboveground BGM
02  Aboveground BGM
03  Athletic BGM
04  Aboveground BGM
05  Slide
06  Dolphic Town
07  Aboveground BGM
08  Super Mario Galaxy
09  Title
10  Super Mario Galaxy 2
11  Coin
12  Mario Jump
13  When Transformed into Super Mario
14  1UP
15  When Super Mario Becomes Small / When Entering a Pipe
16  TIME UP Warning Fanfare
17  Player Down
18  Game Over
19  Course Clear Fanfare
20  World Clear Fanfare

The real star of this collection (and the only part of it which doesn’t reek of laziness) is the 32 page history book which is jam packed with enough contain to make the N64 Kid have a seizure. Anyone who holds a special place for Mario in their heart will definitely appreciate the amount of work that has gone in to constructing this booklet. Packed to the brim with previously unseen artwork, interesting factoids, interviews and original design docs this book is one of finest pieces of Mario memorabilia that Nintendo has ever released. Some of the content is this book is truly fascinating, did you know that Mario was originally used to shoot a gun instead of fire balls? Bowser should consider himself lucky!

At just £25/$30 Super Mario All-Stars is an incredible bargain, it’s just unfortunate that Nintendo has half-assed the entire project. If Ninty took the time to modernize the games and give us a more robust soundtrack I would have probably declared this as the best videogame product of all time. Additionally the absence of Super Mario World is inexcusable, sure it’s not technically a “Bros.” game but the fact that I already own a copy of All-Stars which features Mario World makes this re-release feel incomplete. In this era of HD Remixes direct ports of old games just aren’t as exciting as they used to be. Still, if you’ve yet to experience these games with 16-bit graphics or you just fancy four exceptional games for 30 bucks then Super Mario All-Stars: 25th Anniversary Edition is more than worthy of spot in your games collection. The history book and soundtrack disc just sweeten the deal.

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