Pricing by Wario
Anyone with a SNES and a good bit of self-respect recalls the days of Super Mario All-Stars, a four-game compilation released in the fall of 1993. Its primary draw was the promise of updated aesthetics (sleeker, 16-bit visuals and nicer MIDI-style music arranged by Sim City/Super Mario Kart’s Soyo Oka) and the inclusion of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan, but as-yet unreleased in North America).
Well, here it is again. Granted, we also get a lightweight 26-minute soundtrack CD and a pretty cool 30-page art booklet (certainly the main attraction here for collectors) with this version of the release, but in terms of the actual game, this is a direct port of the SNES original.
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Super Mario All-Stars includes the following four games:
- Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 2 (Super Mario USA in Japan)
Super Mario Bros. 3
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan)
All of them feature the same 16-bit graphics and sound that you remember from the SNES iteration, as—again—this is a direct port. Even the title screen is exactly the same as the original Super Mario All-Stars—right down to the 2003 copyright—which is disappointing to say the least. In fact, the only real change in this version is the ability to use the sideways Wii remote, Classic Controller, or GameCube Controller to play, the same exact options available in every Virtual Console title to date.
Regardless of any pricing/design disputes, the games naturally haven’t lost any of their unique charm and addictive qualities. All four of them (Lost Levels in its own evil sort of way) qualify as platforming classics, so they’re still plenty of fun to enjoy, with tons of content, replay value, and a thick swath of nostalgia. I actually had almost forgotten just how downright evil The Lost Levels is until I entered a pipe in one of the Bowser castles and ended up back at the beginning of the level (yes, that happens). And Super Mario Bros. 3 is still a dream of an experience, even all these years later.
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But it’s been seventeen of those aforementioned 365-day time units, and that’s the crux of the issue here. Nintendo could have elected to give these timeless classics another makeover with slick, high-res sprites and improved audio (even possibly charging full price for such a creation), but instead, absolutely nothing has changed. We don’t even get Super Mario World with the collection—even though it was released as a pack-in with SNES system in the form of Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World back in 1994. That’s a bummer, regardless of your situational slicing strategy.
The other stuff
Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, this collection does come with a separate DVD case containing a soundtrack CD (just 21 minutes long) and an art booklet.
The soundtrack CD is a cool bonus, but’s it’s really short (just 26 minutes long), and to be honest, it’s nothing special at all. Here’s the track list:
- Super Mario Bros. – Ground Theme
Super Mario Bros. 2 – Ground Theme
Super Mario Bros. 3 – Athletic Theme
Super Mario World – Ground Theme
Super Mario 64 – Slider
Super Mario Sunshine – Delfino Plaza
New Super Mario Bros. – Main Theme
Super Mario Galaxy – Main Theme
New Super Mario Bros. Wii – Title Theme
Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Main Theme (Trailer Arrangement)
Plus 10 more tracks which are actually just sound effects from the original Super Mario Bros.
From a purely musical perspective, the best songs of all those included are, of course, the two Super Mario Galaxy series themes, which are fully-orchestrated and just genuinely fantastic. Still, the rest of the songs (all of which hail directly from the games and are not remixed or retouched in any way), are fun to hear and known by practically everyone who’s ever picked up a controller. It’s just too bad we didn’t see a full 80 minutes of actual music as opposed to a mere 26 (since it wouldn’t have cost anything extra to pack that onto the disc).
Is it just me or is it 1993 in here?
While the soundtrack is nothing we haven’t seen before, the included Super Mario History booklet is really cool. It’s packaged within the soundtrack DVD case, and it’s of fairly high quality. 30 pages of timelines, quotations, and even the original Super Mario Bros. proposal design drawn up by Shigeru Miyamoto himself await. It’s a collector’s item for sure.
Some of my favorite tidbits from the booklet:
- The picture of Miyamoto’s office
The original art pieces (on graph paper) for Super Mario Bros.
Original concept art for the first 3-D Mario game (Super Mario 64)Apparently Up was originally Jump, and A was “Attack”!
Sketches and reference art for Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World
It’s a nifty little extra that really sweetens the deal.