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Critical Reception: Nintendo's Super Mario All-Stars

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to a Wii reissue of Nintendo's platformer compilation Super Mario All-Stars, which reviews describe as "a wasted opportunity."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to a Wii reissue of Nintendo's platformer compilation Super Mario All-Stars, which reviews describe as "a wasted opportunity." Games Radar's Brett Elston scores Super Mario All-Stars at 8 out of 10. "Nintendo typically doesn't indulge in 'special editions' or reverent collections of its aging franchises, so the very fact we're getting a 25th Anniversary edition of Super Mario All-Stars is something to note," he explains. "Granted, it's the exact same game that shipped on the Super NES way back in 1993, but now it comes bundled with a nifty red box, art book and a 20-track CD full of classic songs and iconic sound effects." "This particular collection is pretty special," Elston continues. "The art book, for example, contains original sketches from Miyamoto that outline how the first SMB would work, and there are even shots of World 1-2 drawn on graph paper. Maybe that means nothing to you, but for Nintendo nerds and the Mario faithful, that alone is worth $30." The presentation of the game itself, however, does not meet Elston's expectations. "When you consider the entire package, $30 is more than fair," he notes. "But the Super Mario All-Stars game itself? Not necessarily worth that much. The Wii version is a straight-up port of the SNES game, right down to the 'Copyright Nintendo 1993' text along the bottom of the screen. Honestly it comes off as a bit lazy - you couldn't do anything to these games for a 25th anniversary?" "However, none of these nitpicks change the quality of the included games, or the intended purpose of the entire collection," Elston admits. "You're still getting inarguable classics that defined not just platformers, but also the '80s games industry and millions of childhoods around the world." Richard George at IGN rates Super Mario All-Stars at 7 out of 10. "If you ever owned the original Super Mario All-Stars, you know exactly what you're getting here," he writes. "This is a collection of the four NES-based Mario games, from Super Mario Bros. 1 to 3, plus the addition of 'The Lost Levels,' which was originally Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan." "Nintendo was almost too faithful with these ports, opting to not give the player any visual prompts for what Wii buttons to press to start games, and what existing on-screen directions there are feature SNES pads as the original release did," George says. "Nintendo was intent on throwing a party for its mascot, but certainly spared some expense. It would have also been nice to see Super Mario World included here, as that game was eventually bundled into the All-Stars package for a limited time in the States." In terms of gameplay content, however, the original Mario titles still shine. "The quality of these games remains undiminished – they are classics in every sense of the word," George praises. "Even Super Mario Bros 2, which added the odd mechanic of throwing vegetables at an unconventional set of enemies, is a fantastic game in its own right, even if it is the red-headed stepchild of the franchise. And, of course, you have Super Mario Bros 3, which is arguably one of the greatest video games of all time." "The pedigree on display here is not in dispute – but the value of the games and their rerelease definitely is," George warns. "Super Mario All-Stars for the Wii is a competent offering of four classics that never truly seeks to embrace the milestone it claims to support. If you really want to see the legacy of Mario on display, you're probably better off replaying Super Mario Galaxy 2." 1UP.com's Jeremy Parish gives Super Mario All-Stars a B grade. "Super Mario Bros. looms large in gaming's collective unconscious," he writes. "It occupies the same pedestal for the medium that William Shakespeare commands in literature, or the Beatles in rock music. Whether or not you personally like Super Mario Bros. is irrelevant at this point; the game simply is, and its ineffable existence has far more relevance to the medium's past and future than your trivial opinions." "Given its importance, you'd think Nintendo would put forth a little more effort to commemorate its history," Parish continues. "This turns out to be nothing more than the Super NES remake compilation of the same name dropped on a Wii disc and sold for $30. Other Super NES games sell for $8 on Virtual Console, but it seems Nintendo figured they deserve a little extra for this one and released it separately to retail." Parish feels that the bonus material does little to make the package more appealing. "To help justify the added cost, they threw in some deluxe packaging: a nice box, a soundtrack CD, and a book chronicling Mario's history," he notes. "Value is a subjective concept, but it's hard to argue that these minor bonuses are worth the extra cost when they're ultimately just window dressing for a zero-effort port of an old compilation of older games. They're decent, but doesn't a landmark like Super Mario Bros. deserve better than merely decent?" "Super Mario All-Stars is a wasted opportunity," Parish concludes. "If the best we can hope for to mark the silver anniversary of one of the most monumental video game masterpieces is a quick and dirty rerelease with a bit of pretty but insubstantial packaging, it's little surprise that so few people take gaming seriously as a medium. Why should they, when even its most influential creators can't be bothered, either?"

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