So I couldn't remember if I had beaten Super Mario Bros. 1 in full before (I have it on NES), end result is I decided to spend the night (okay, it's past midnight so technically yesterday so w/e) beating it. Since I was going for a pretty casual playthrough, I saved after each level (but NOT in level, nor did I reload unless I got a game over), but I didn't go warpless obv. It's Super Mario Bros. 1, there isn't much I can tell you about this iconic, 35 year old game that you don't already know, so this won't be too long.
The level design is pretty solid for the most part, it obviously isn't as expansive as something like Super Mario Bros. 3 but it is pretty solid as a basic platformer, in particular on the harrowing mushroom stages where you have to make jumps between mushroom platforms and various platforms that will see-saw or the like. The first level of most of the worlds tended to be some of the best imo, World 1-1 is truly a great tutorial style level and most of the time they tend to be the most focused on the platforming challenge where this game excelled.
The downside of level design imo was three areas. First off, the water levels aren't all that fun to play and are veeeery easy (I died once in them the entire run) so they end up feeling more like speedbumbs. Secondly, the Bowser levels could be hit or miss, I liked the straight-forward ones that tended to be intense timing or platforming challenges while the ones that went for mazes felt like a fun idea but in too primitive of a form to be particularly enjoyable. Finally, 8-3 and 8-4 are bullshit, 8-3 just has too many Hammer Bros to feel comfortable finishing even after getting it down pat and while it is cool flavorfully it could have done more, and also while I didn't die to it whoever decided to end the enemy rush level with 2 1-tile platform jumps is eeevil. 8-4 actually isn't hard but the pipe puzzle just doesn't work very well imo, it's kinda easy to get your spot lost if you have to keep doing it over and is kind of a pain.
Story? It's like the first NES game ever, it's Mario, there's a princess, go save her, that's your story get out of here. Graphically, the game isn't as impressive as games with 35 years of sprite knowledge and ability (and usually 16-bit rather than 8-bit or anything) but I'd say it is fairly good for a NES game and it has some really iconic looks for a reason. The graphical leap to SMB3 is VERY notable but, like, this is one of the earliest NES games you'll find, so no surprise there. It ultimately looks nice. The sound is solid, with the soundtrack being fairly good (the Bowser's castle themes are nice), you've got classic power-up sounds, the works.
It's SMB1. If you are looking for a basic 2D platformer, it's got you covered pretty well, the controls are actually snappier than I thought they would be even if they are a bit odd compared to some later sMB-style games, there's plenty of challenge and until the last two levels it feels surprisingly fair. You won't find anything too advanced, but it also isn't baby feeling like a Kirby's Adventure. It is a game that feels like it holds up pretty well 35 years later, and not a lot of games can say that.
Reviewed on Oct 20, 2020