It's the anniversary of a Mario classic and what better way to celebrate than with a frantic online multiplayer game? Let's jump to it.
Before I get this started... Happy 35th anniversary, Super Mario Bros.! You're slightly older than I am. Anyway, Super Mario Bros. 35 is a celebration from Nintendo that follows in the tradition of Tetris 99 where players try to survive as long as possible while stumping their rivals by playing well. In this case, you play through the original NES Super Mario Bros. and every enemy you defeat ends up being a ghost in someone else's game so the classic levels get overpopulated rather quickly which adds a layer of excitement to the 8-bit classic. Now that I think about it; it truly is amazing how well the original Super Mario Bros. has held up over the many years since it originally released. Since then, there have been countless 2D platformers and very few of them feature physics that are as rewarding to master. In fact, playing Super Mario Bros. sometimes feels like a racing game as you must maintain control of your inertia as you play. Impressive stuff.
Well, this marks my 3rd time reviewing the original Super Mario Bros. as I reviewed the fantastic Game Boy Color remake when it released for 3DS back in 2014 as well as the arcade adaptation which came out for Switch a few years back. This one is very different, though, as its focus is on online multiplayer. Basically, 35 players compete by traversing an array of the classic game's stages while trying to survive. Collecting coins allows you to deploy a random power-up and defeating enemies grants you additional time. To be honest, I never found time to be an issue as I accumulated it quickly. As you play, you'll witness your opponents slowly thin out as all it takes is losing 1 life to be kicked out of the competition. This makes for some supremely fun match-ups, especially if you make it to the top 5.
As you play, you'll level-up as well as acquire coins that you can use to purchase starting power-ups such as a mushroom, fire flower, and star. Who would ever pick the star? Anyway, I always had more than enough coins to get a fire flower for every match which honestly felt like cheating. They should really raise the prices of these power-ups but I digress. There are also daily challenges to complete which give you even more coins and as you level up, you'll unlock icons that you can choose to represent you online. I chose the star because I'm a cool guy. The daily challenges are rewarding to complete and levelling up is fun, too, and when you factor in the ghost enemies which do a great job of mixing up the classic stages, Super Mario Bros. 35 ends up feeling like a one-of-a-kind experience.
Of course, just like Tetris 99, I'm hoping that Nintendo continuously updates Super Mario Bros. 35 because as of now, it does have some serious issues. For starters, my main complaint is that you have to play through the same levels over and over again which becomes boring very quickly. Sure, you can decide on your starting level from the selection that you've unlocked but you'll probably end up playing 1-1 since it appears as if the vast majority of players vote for that. Next, there are systems that are very easy to exploit. For example, the top players seem to merely stand around and defeat any enemies that their opponents throw at them which grants them more time thus dissuading them to actually put any effort in. Finally, the physics don't feel as tight as the original NES game that I'm very familiar with so it took a long time for me to adjust to them here. Why didn't they simply create an online variation of a straight port?
I'm loving Super Mario Bros. 35 and can't wait for the many inevitable updates that it'll receive in the coming months. The blend of its highly competitive online structure with classic 8-bit gameplay is simply a blast and I hope to see you online, too.
- + Perfectly blends the classic original Super Mario Bros. with online mechanics
- + Ghost enemies help make it feel unique
- + Rewarding challenges and level-up system
- - Having to replay the same levels again and again gets repetitive very fast
- - It's easy to exploit certain things
- - Physics are a bit off