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Nintendo Wii Review: Super Mario All-Stars – Limited Edition

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There are some games which are legends, untouchable bits of greatness.  These are the games which, no matter how many times they may get rereleased to new systems, made playable as DLC, updated, tweaked, etc. you just know that you’re going to buy them over and over again. 

Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition.  This isn’t just the Super Mario All-Stars initially released for the SNES 17 years ago, with its inclusion of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels; no, this is the limited edition, and it includes a CD of Mario music and a booklet where the creators give little bits of insight into the games.

It is always my hope when writing a review that I manage to impart new or beneficial information, that I somehow say something that hasn’t been said before or say it in a better way than has been said before.  I’m just not sure how to go about doing that here.  This is the first three Super Mario games; the Lost Levels, which was released as Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan; and Mario music – each title has been reviewed repeatedly. 

For those who don’t recall, it should be pointed out that the titles included here are as they were on the SNES – complete with improved graphics and sound as well as the ability to save your game.  While personally I wish that the former wasn’t true and that we were getting the original graphics (though the tweaks are minor), the latter is quite nice to have.

It also must be said that there are, unquestionably, a group of people who will jump up and down shouting and pulling their hair out that Nintendo has dared release this with a suggested retail price of $29.99 when games already available to download individually for less money.  The Wii’s Virtual Console currently has all four titles available (with their original graphics and sound) for a total of (at last check) 2,100 points or roughly $21.00 (we’re going to ignore the fact that you can’t actually buy 2,100 points exactly).  This means that the last nine dollars buys you the 32-page booklet on Mario’s history and the CD of music. 

I cannot tell you that the music and booklet aren’t worth your extra money.  Well, that’s not entirely true, I can tell you that the booklet is nominally interesting but not all that great, and that I think the music – which has pieces from the original Super Mario up to Super Mario Galaxy 2 – is fantastic.  And, I may be old-fashioned, but I’d rather own the games on disc (so that I can travel to a friend’s house with them) than only on the Virtual Console. 

As for the games themselves – they truly do stand the test of time.  Having Mario run through castle after castle as those he rescues get increasingly annoying with their “Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle” (seriously, after all that work your princess is elsewhere?  Come on!) is, 25 years later, still a blast.  If you’re someone who grew up with the games, you’re still going to know where the Warp Zones are, where exactly to set up the door to go into the shadow world in Mario 2, and where those magic flutes are (and not just because of that Fred Savage movie), and that, as much as anything, tells you how great these games are.

I still think that Super Mario Bros. 2, a great departure from the original or any title that has come after it, is – like Back to the Future 2 – too often overlooked, and I love the fact that I can now go back to it as often as I like and explore every nook, cranny, and turnip it has to offer.  I have always had an inordinate amount of trouble with level 8-2 in the original game and can now hone my skills as much as I like.

As a character, Mario may have been created before Super Mario Bros. was released 25 years ago, but Super Mario made him the legend that he is today.  This four-pack of games highlights some of his early years and is well worth owning if you don’t already have it in another playable form.  Plus, it comes with a pretty rocking CD.

Super Mario All-Stars – Limited Edition is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.