the artistry and psychology of gaming

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Super Mario Bros. Crossover

Super Mario Bros. Crossover

Welcome to Gaming on the House; don’t look down and and mind your step! Each week, we’ll be climbing the rooftops of the gaming industry to seek out great experiences that everyone can track down and play, and the best part is they’ll all be free! That’s right; FREE! Gratis. Comp’d. Unbound. Unrestricted. Zero-down. On the House!… we talk about free games here, is my point.

Many may be surprised at how many fantastic games are really out there that everyone can legally enjoy with no monetary commitment. Taking together all the flash and browser games, freeware downloads from the independent scene, speed programming archives, free-to-play business modules, and even promotional re-releases from big name publishers, there’s a never ending supply of great games new and old waiting to be played, and it’s our goal to play them all! So, if you’re strapped for cash or just waiting around for that next big release to hit retail, why not give these games a try? After all, they’re free; what have you got to lose!

This week, we pay a visit to some old friends as they explore some unfamiliar territory…to them that is.

Super Mario Bros. Crossover

NES Reunion, class of 198X.

Genre: NES fan service
Link to Game: http://www.explodingrabbit.com/games/super-mario-bros-crossover
Game Info: Released on Newgrounds by Exploding Rabbit in April 2010. Version 1.2 was released in December 2010.

Assuming you’ve managed to hear of what we in the business refer to as “video games” at some point in the past 26 years, you’ll likely have heard the name Super Mario Bros. being thrown around. You’ll here that the game is a classic in every sense of the word; the game that made Mario a household name, that supposedly resuscitated a dying industry following a catastrophic crash, and pretty much the main reason everyone’s grandparents have referred to video game consoles as “Nintendo’s” regardless of who made them. Since its debut in 1985, the game has gone down in video game history as one of the most influential games of all time with countless reasons cited for its quality. You know what… skip it… you know this game.

But what other games do you know? The NES was a fantastic console, one where many of gaming’s biggest franchise stars had their debut. Maybe Mario wasn’t your bag, but maybe you liked Mega Man, or Samus from Metroid. Perhaps the Legend of Zelda was more your style, or you were all about Ninja Gaiden. Of course, these games and characters certainly weren’t mutually exclusive; many gamers fell in love with each and every one of them. The contrast between the individual character sprites and movesets, along with the unique settings they hailed from brought a great deal of variety to Nintendo’s little box, and gamers everywhere couldn’t get enough of them. One thing they never got though, was a game that brought them all together. Sure, sure, Captain N: The Game Master had some nice moments, but that was a TV show with questionable takes on the characters at best. What was really needed was a showcase of abilities, a celebration of sights, sounds, and controls to tie it all together.

Super Mario Bros. Crossover is that game.

We are so mega lost.

Like something pulled right out of the collective dreams and aspirations out of every child alive in the 80’s, Super Mario Bros. Crossover pulls together 8 classic characters from the NES library, and pits them all against a common obstacle; the entirety of Super Mario Bros. When I say the entirety, I mean just that. It’s all here; the coin blocks, the power ups, the warp zones, that magic beanstalk on level 4-2; a lot of love went into ensuring the world’s accuracy. Impressively, No two characters end up playing through the game world the same, as they each bring pieces of their original moveset to the table. Ryu Hayabusa climbs walls and throws Shurikens, Simon Belmont throws axes and has his trademark whip, SOPHIA from Blaster Master can fire homing missiles and hover for short periods of time. Character abilities even get powered up just like Mario does if they snatch up the mushroom and fire flower. Take Mega Man, for example, he starts out able to shoot regularly (BTW, the slide is also in), and if he grabs the mushroom, he gets to use his Mega Buster from Mega Man 4. Grab the fire flower, and he pulls out the fire storm attack.  Bill Rizer from Contra is also notable for powerups, eventually being given the deadly spreadshot once he gets the flower. Every character handles with the same tight controls they had in the games they came from; a few, like Samus, even play as if they were ripped right out of their games fully intact (a side note, I love that Samus starts out in her zero suit, no JUSTIN BAILEY code required).

Equally impressive is that each of the characters bring their own soundtrack to the game as well. Characters have their own themes for each of the different background music segments (overworld, underground, invincible, reaching the castles, etc.). It’s nice to walk through the mushroom kingdom as Link and hear the Legend of Zelda theme playing in the overworld, then heading underground to hear the dungeon theme from Adventure of Link. Hearing how the songs were implemented and placing where they came from is enough to make any fan happy.

After all these years, Bowser lever learned to aim up.

All in all, this game is a dream come true, and an incredible feat for such attention to detail in programming from a single person. Several logical modes exist, bringing in several difficulty levels, a random select mode, a single character mode, a survival mode, and of course the all character mode which allows you to switch characters in between each stage, even keeping track of their powerups while they are waiting in the wings.

Characters play to the strengths of each player, so not everyone will walk away with the same favorite. For my money, SOPHIA comes off as the most impressive inclusion for the wall clinging and hovering, along with homing missiles, but I find myself coming back to Mega Man again and again for his jumping strategy (he calls in Rush like in Mega Man 3) and for his music. Still, that’s just me. The point is, there’s likely a favorite character for everyone in the bunch, you’ll just have to figure that out for yourself.

One Comment

  1. Yeah, I’ve played this one before! It’s such a great idea!

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