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Mario Oddities: Smorgasbord #2 (Under Construction)

Enjoy a second collection of Mario Oddity articles of mine, some old some new, that are small enough to be on one web page. Updated regularly! Enjoy.

Table of Contents

  1. Defending Super Mario Land
  2. Mario's Decline (WIP)
  3. Super Mario 35

In Defense of Super Mario Land

Super Mario Land: It’s a 1989 launch game for the Gameboy! I like the unique themeing, concept and some of the ideas here. Yes the game overall is mediocre in context of the entire series, but rather interesting and important historically. We must remember how early of a platform game this is for Mario. There was SMB 1 and…. SMB 2! That’s it, at least if you are American. So there isn’t a whole lot of precedent set, compounded by this being a launch title for the system. With that in mind I respect it for what it tries to do, bring Mario platforming to your handheld. Of course the limitations show in some elements like the visuals and game play mechanics. For instance there are bombshell koopas instead of koopa troopas because they didn’t want to program shell bouncing. The other enemies also have odd untranslated names which would never fly now. But again, we can forgive some of this for the time. The music is legitimately good. We also introduce Daisy who is infamous for several reasons. Despite it being a main series game, Daisy is regulated to spin offs, entirely unlike characters like Bowser Junior or Rosalina. Having an original villain is neat from our modern perspective where some character choices are cliche, but at the time it wouldn’t be too weird to introduce new characters for new Mario games. I think it’s worth a play through to experience a different environment and some of the unexpected gameplay changes they throw at you. It’s a short journey, in fact that was a complaint back in the day- but leaves you no excuse to not check it out now!

Mario's Decline (WIP)

I believe the Wii was the last ‘uncharted’ era for Mario, and even then there were signs of the times, a lot of sequels, or series continuations there as well. Difference was that either motion controls were incorporated or they focused on going bigger and better. Contrast WiiU era and even beyond where unfortunately we get what feels like rehashes, cookie cutter entries, or content starved continuations of much beloved subfranchises. Look at every thing around 2011. After then there’s a sharp quality decline. I’ll give examples even:

Paper Mario had it’s biggest and most divisive bomb in 2012, Sticker Star. It’s never recovered since. Mario Party was already getting shaky with some, but nothing ruffled feathers like Mario Party 9 in that same year. Again the franchise has not fully recovered. New Super Mario Bros 2 is often called the weakest entry. Guess what? 2012. See a pattern? Mario Tennis Open? More like Mario Tennis Empty of Content. New Super Mario Bros U was better, but has also been rehashed twice since. Now we will see another pattern. When something is okay, Nintendo milks it to death. TBC...

Super Mario 35

What is it?

Super Mario Bros 35 is a limited time online multiplayer battle royale 2D game on the Nintendo Switch, available only until March 31, 2021. At the time of writing this, that’s certainly in the past. This game is based on the NES’s Super Mario Bros and while it may seem like a fun remake, this is really an endurance match. To start thirty-five players simultaneously play through various levels from the original game and your goal is to be the last player standing. Every player’s screens and their progress are visible and at any time, and as long as the player has coins they can use an item Roulette to possibly help them. That will not be easy as each enemy you defeat is sent to the screen of another player, which in particular you can determine or leave random. There is also a timer always counting down that will end your run if it reaches zero. Of course this free game is only for those with a Nintendo Online subscription. So.. not free. Or is it?

So was it any good?
Yes, for a quick run or two. Let’s go back to what endurance aspect. Most players drop out really quick (like pathetically quick) even while the easier levels are being queued up. It’s not easy to understand how the levels are served at first so let me briefly explain. Before a match starts you can choose a level to play, though you will only have 1-1 at first. You’ll have more to add to your ‘vote’ in the item pool after you clear a level at least once. From then the levels are coming up in a pattern. Warp zones let you skip around just a bit. Realistically you primarily played either really early or really late levels. Few in between. I swear the athletic levels were the bane of my existence assuming I didn't have an item!

The verdict:
When the game was active I won a few times and if not that, placed top three no issue. That’s disconcerting when I’m not particularly skilled. That was always my issue. The premise of the game, thirty-five players playing SMB1? It never happened. Within a minute or two every match is basically between maybe five or so decent players while everyone else has already died in 1-1 or 1-2. It came down to not making dumb mistakes, not getting stuck in the harder levels towards the end, having enough coins to spam your roulette if you need, and defeating multiples when there’s a horde of bad guys at you. That last point specially after they altered the timer to be more aggressive. There were unlocks and levels in the game but it literally does not matter now, so I won’t even give it its own section... Anyway, happy 35 anniversary, Mario! I think.