Mario Bros.

System: NES

Review

Game Type: 2D Platform
Two players race around a screen full of enemies, leaping to knock into the platforms above and stun the enemies overhead. Once an enemy is stunned they must hurry to kick it over the edge or it will recover (and it'll be really, really pissed off when it does). Clear a quota of enemies to proceed to the next round.

Gameplay: 80/100
Donkey Kong meets Joust, or at least that's what Nintendo hoped to create back in the 80's. They were moderately successful in capturing Joust's cooperative/competitive two player aspects. Two players can either help each other get as far in the game as possible, or use any number of dirty tricks to kill off the other character. Beware if your friend decides to do the latter. Players can stun each other by knocking into the platforms from below or stomping on each others' heads. While that in itself isn't deadly you can easily be knocked into a critter's path. Stunned critters can be revived by knocking the platforms, and if you're trying to kick one off the screen when your friend/opponent revives him... well, you get the idea. Unfortunately the more competitive matches can be very brutal and very, very brief, leaving one player to cool their heels while the other finishes their game. The two player mode definitely has its imperfections. But skilled players may well find it quite enjoyable.
Even with one player MB isn't half bad. Beware, though; your characters have a fair amount of inertia, and if you don't like games where you skid about the screen you won't like this. Most folks are already used to this sort of control from Super Mario Bros., though. Unlike SMB, there's no huge world to explore. There's just you and a screen full of snapping turtles. But means there's nothing but pure arcade action, and that's the way it should be.

Graphics: 80/100
Platforms, pipes, solid black background. That's all there is to the game screen. Not much graphic detail, but less is sometimes more. This is the look that the NES is ideally suited for. The colors and character graphics are appealing, and there are one or two bits of excellent animation. My only complaint in the graphic department is the constant, subtle flicker on all the enemy sprites.

Sound: 90/100
No music, just an excellent set of cute sound effects. But again, less is sometimes more.

Overall: 80/100
My favorite type of game is one that takes a simple idea and implements it really, really well. This is one of those games. I can't guarantee you'll enjoy it in the long term with two players or even with one, but it's a fun jaunt for a while at least.

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Copyright © 1997/1998 Jay McGavren. All Rights Reserved.