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Take a Stand Against Mario's Anniversary
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 09, 2010   |   Episode 175 (Show Archive)  

   

FACT: Super Mario All-Stars is NOT 25 years old!
If you're like me, you grew up following Super Mario's every move. Even though he is a Italian plumber with terrible fashion sense and an even worse mustache, there was something about the chubby guy I can't get enough of. And that's why I find myself buying every adventure he goes on, no matter if they're 2D sidescrollers or a massive 3D undertaking. But there's one Super Mario game I won't be buying. I ask you to join me in taking a stand against Super Mario All-Stars: Limited Edition.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of Nintendo's most influential games, Super Mario Bros. Don't get confused, this is not Mario's birthday (he is 29), but rather the first Super Mario Bros. game on the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom. As far as I'm concerned,

It may not be the prettiest version of the game, but the original Super Mario Bros. is still worth owning!
this is enough of a reason to celebrate. Just don't look to Nintendo for party advice.

To celebrate Super Mario's birthday, Nintendo decided to release a very special Wii compilation. That game is Super Mario All-Stars: Limited Edition, a $30 budget release shipped to retailers this past week. It comes in a bright red box and offers four of the greatest 2D platformers of all time: Super Mario Bros. 1 - 3 (plus the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2). The package

Super Mario All-Stars offers both the good and bad versions of Super Mario Bros. 2!
also offers a CD soundtrack and a 32-page book that chronicles the history of the franchise. To an old school Mario fan, this sounds like a great deal.

But don't be fooled, because this is the kind of video game compilation that should not be supported. Ignoring the CD soundtrack and the full-color booklet, this is nothing more than a re-release of the 1993 Super NES compilation, Super Mario All-Stars. I love Super Mario All-Stars, as far as I'm concerned it's one of the greatest compilations of all time (ranked #1 on the 50 Compilations that Rocked the World list). But there's a time and a place for this collection of 16-bit remakes, and Super Mario's 25th anniversary is most certainly not the time.

Let's start with the obvious; we're here to celebrate the seminal 8-bit action game. That's the 8-bit that only had 48 colors to

You wouldn't honor Kiss by letting Mini Kiss perform. Maybe that's a bad example ...
choose from and 1.66 MHz clock speed. These were simple games, but some clever design decisions brought these sprites to life in a magical way. There's a beauty in these simple 8-bit graphics, they represent the humble beginnings of the world's most popular plumber.

Instead of honoring these 8-bit masterpieces, Nintendo opted for their shinier 16-bit remakes. You wouldn't honor Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho by showing Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake, and Nintendo shouldn't have celebrated this important birthday with these 16-bit remakes. That's not to say they had

At one time Super Mario All-Stars featured Super Mario World. Apparently Nintendo forgot!
to keep these 16-bit versions off of the disc, but to not even offer the choice of the 8-bit originals feels like a huge oversight.

Even if you accept that this 17 year old Super NES compilation is the best possible choice for a 25th anniversary disc, that doesn't explain why they went with this particular version of Super Mario All-Stars. Granted, this repackaged version is the cartridge most 16-bit gamers owned. But it is not

It's not the best Mario game, but how cool would it be to see this packaged with the collection?
the only version available. Later Super Mario All-Stars carts featured a fifth game, Super Mario World. The inclusion of Shigeru Miyamoto's favorite Mario game would have made this half-assed compilation almost worth buying. Almost.

The truth is, even the addition of Super Mario World wouldn't be enough to recommend this package. Mario fans deserve so much more from a 25th anniversary collection. If you're going to celebrate, why not give us a comprehensive collection of all of Super Mario's 2D outings. As far as I can tell Nintendo has never released the Super Mario Land series on a console compilation. And now that some time has passed, perhaps it's time to offer versions of Mario Hotel and other rare Super Mario

The emulation wasn't always perfect, but SEGA is on the right path with this compilation!
adventures. With so many sequels, spin-offs and sports games, you would think Nintendo could come up with better than Super Mario All-Stars.

Without falling into the trap of believing every conspiracy theory, it seems like this decision had more to do with the Virtual Console than what was best for the Mario fans. As it stands, Super Mario All-Stars is one of the very few first-party releases that have not found their way to the Virtual Console. Blame it on the price tag. With most Super NES games going for $8, this price point would gut the market for the 8-bit originals (which will run you a staggering $21). So what does Nintendo do? They skip the Virtual Console altogether and raise the price to $30.

Nintendo should take a page from one of their longtime competitors. SEGA doesn't mess around when it comes to releasing game compilations. Their last two Genesis collections (Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection and the SEGA Genesis Collection) both featured dozens of games for not much money. Yet these games still show up on the Virtual Console for the full $8 asking price. SEGA understands that gamers are looking for a great package, even when it's not an important anniversary.

Let Nintendo know that you WILL NOT accept this kind of half-assed compilation. Don't let them sell you a 17 year old game masquerading as something much older. Don't be fooled. Nintendo does not have your best interest in mind with this package, and they should not be rewarded with your money. Send them a message so that maybe they'll think twice when Zelda or Metroid's quarter century anniversary shows up.
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