Moving on from the traditional Mario games, we’re still going to be in fairly familiar territory with this part, covering ports and remakes of pre-existing games. With a highly acclaimed game, eventually comes various ports, remakes, and virtual console rereleases. The Mario series is no stranger to this with games like Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES and the four Mario Advance games released on the Game Boy Advance being the most well-known examples. Most of the games in this section still have the traditional 2D Mario gameplay. When I say most, I only mean two of the three games (technically four); this is the shortest of the nine parts. Any remakes of puzzle games will appear next week in part 3.
- Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadiums– 1997: Satellaview (Japan only)
This remake of the classic NES game Excitebike features Mario characters. The game was initially released in May 1997 but was updated three times adding or replacing features of the previous update like adding more characters. The last update was released in November 1997. By this update, players could choose from Mario, Toad, Wario, Princess Peach, and Yoshi. If you’re wondering where Luigi is, well… he was removed in favor of Yoshi. A red and green Koopa Troopa appear too but they’re non-playable. Since the game was released after Mario Kart 64 (by a year in Japan), it uses voice samples from that game for the characters. The rules of Excitebike still apply: race against your opponents and get the best time. Coins have been added to tracks that when collected, will let players use their turbo without having to worry about their engine overheating. They go away though if the player falls off the motorcycle. Multiplayer is available in this game, allowing for a second person to join in.
Would this game be worth playing? Yes, but due to its release, you’d have to either playing it on an emulator or get a reproduction cart.
- BS Super Mario USA & BS Super Mario Collection– 1996/1997: Satellaview (Japan only)
Starting with BS Mario USA, this game is a pseudo-sequel to Super Mario USA (Super Mario Bros. 2). The game has additional content and a new story. Also it was released in four parts from late March to late April of 1996. In each part the player is sent to worlds in Super Mario Bros. USA with the goal of collecting the Gold Mario statues, defeating the world’s boss, and then finding Wart. Rather than residing in his castle, Wart is in any world if you go down a vase while in Subspace, replacing the Warp Zones from the original. The player can return to or start at any level they desire in the world, but they only have fifty minutes to find and defeat Wart before the episode is over. Since this game is on the Satellaview, it uses the add-on’s Soundlink feature which allows an audio drama to tell the narrative of the game’s story. The game has cutscenes which shows not only Wart and his minions, but the King of Subcon (setting of SMB2/USA), Ōsama along with his commander who seems to have no name. The game also had a completely different soundtrack, using tunes from Super Mario World and an album called Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, 3 Hop! Step! Jump! It was able to achieve this thanks to the previously mentioned Soundlink capability of the Satellaview which allowed the music to be streamed via satellite radio since normally, the SNES/Super Famicom could not produce CD quality music.
BS Mario Collection is the companion title to BS Mario USA. It was also released in four parts, although from late December 1997 to mid-January 1998. The game too used the Satallaview’s Sounlink capability to provide CD quality music along with voice acting performed by Japanese celebrities. The music was also completely new using the same new music that was used in BS Super Mario USA, but also used licensed music with some odd choices; for example, Huey Lewis and the News’ “The Power of Love” and the main theme from The Never Ending Story. Like with the Satallaview version of Mario USA, this game is a special version of Super Mario Collection (Super Mario All-Stars). Unfortunately, their isn’t a ton of information about this game. Part 1 was Super Mario Bros. with the first five worlds being available. The player could pick what level in a world they wanted to play with a timer. Once the timer runs out, the player is sent to the castle level to have the chance to save Toad. Doing so rewards the player with a spade panel that provides multiple continues. Normally the game would take you to the next world, but if enough points were collected, the player could skip a world. Parts 2-4 are unknown, but all three parts were presumably Super Mario Bros. 3 with part two having worlds 1-3, part three having worlds 4-6, and lastly part four having 7 and 8.
Would either of these games be worth playing? No. Without the Satellaview’s sounlink, these games feel like they’re incomplete. While this version of Super Mario Bros. 2/USA sounds interesting, I’d just stick with the normal version found in Super Mario All-Stars.
- Super Mario Bros. Deluxe– 1999/2000: Game Boy Color/Game Boy Nintendo Power
This is likely the most recognizable game of the 70+ in this series considering it was the first time the 1985 Super Mario Bros. was on a handheld system and the game sold over five million copies worldwide. So why is this included with the others? Well, I feel this game gets overshadowed by both the NES original and the SNES version on Super Mario All-Stars. While those versions are nice, SMB Deluxe offers so much more than just 32 levels of mushroom eating and Koopa stomping platforming. The game has a challenge mode, a mode where you race a Boo to the end of a level (You vs Boo), two player versus mode, a Toy Box filled with various things that can help you with other parts of the game, an album that stores medals the player earned for completing certain tasks, and most importantly, Super Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Levels, or as it’s called in this game, Super Mario Bros. for Super Players. Some of these additions need to be unlocked however. Super Players for example is unlocked when the player earns 300,000 points in Super Mario Bros. This game also supports the Game Boy Printer and the forgotten Game Boy Color infrared port to view and exchange high scores with other players. It should be noted that this isn’t an exact port of either Super Mario Bros. games; there have been a few changes. For example, the game’s physics are slightly tighter in this version and Luigi’s ability to jump higher while having poor traction in Super Players was removed. Also for Super Players, Worlds 9 and D were removed along with the wind hazards. While the screen’s resolution is smaller than the NES’, the graphics have been given a slight boost with animations for things like lava and Toad/Peach talking. Also Luigi’s color pallet was changed to more appropriate colors. The inevitable result of the smaller screen resolution, screen crunch (the camera being so zoomed in that it can be hard to tell what’s above or below you at certain points) was alleviated by being able to back track in levels for a bit and the ability to adjust the camera by pressing up or down on the D-pad or by pressing select. The game has a save feature, allowing players to save at almost any time.
Super Mario Bros. Deluxe is available on the 3DS’ eShop but it’s missing the high score sharing ability and two player versus mode. This game was never given a physical release in Japan, rather it was available for download using the Nintendo Power service where you could download the game from a Nintendo Power kiosk into a special Flash cartridge. However, it too is now available for Japanese players via 3DS eShop.
Would this game be worth playing? Yes! It may be the best version of the original Super Mario Bros. with all of the content it has to offer.
While this week’s part was a short one, in the next part we’ll begin to look at the non-platforming Mario games, starting with the puzzle games, one of my favorite game genres.