Winning freedom from a nearby game park, creatures enter the factory where Mario is visiting his brother Luigi. Both set about removing the invading animals from their platform game world.
The brothers move left and right along the multi-level floors trying to dislodge the turtles, crabs and flies whilst not losing their own footing on the floors, as their sideways momentum can carry them over an edge, onto a lower level and into the path of an oncoming beast. But Mario and Luigi can move to higher levels or drop down to lower ones as they choose.
The creatures, their numbers increasing with time, appear from pipes on the top floor, and touching one, or one of the large rotating discs, causes a brother to lose one of his three lives.
Creatures are disabled by jumping up and head-butting the underside of floors which bulge upward. This knocks the pests onto their backs when they can then be kicked to the ground below, otherwise they recover and can knock the brothers off. Be careful however, a second thump can right them and once more they set off. The POW marker on the first floor can be used to stun all creatures on screen, so they can be kicked off cleanly. With all of the creatures removed, the next screen is reached. There's an extra life earned for reaching 30,000 points.
Control keys: A/S - left/right, Space to jump
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Use of colour: limited, generally simple
Graphics: porky sprites
Sound: thin on FX
Skill levels: one; one or two players may take part
Screens: one layout, different nasties
'Compelling platform games are few and far between these days which is strange as most games on the Spectrum a few Leers ago were of this format. Mario Bros could have easily been very good, so it's a pity that it isn't. Generally the whole game seems to lack the polish of a completed product - front end excluded. The graphics are simple but sloppy - porky characters are a nice idea but they've been badly defined so they look messy and the platforms, are merely platforms. A few more sound effects during the game wouldn't go amiss as they'd add a lot of much needed atmosphere.'
'I had no fun playing Mario Bros whatsoever. The game is just so terribly boring. All the screens are of the same basic layout, and once you've found the 'safe 'place it holds no more challenge. The graphics are badly and unimaginatively drawn. Playability is poor, and further limited by terrible collision detection. This isn't a patch on the arcade version. Your hard earned pennies would be better spent elsewhere.'
'I couldn't believe how simple this game was; I couldn't find any plot, and I've yet to see more concise instructions. I was expecting, consequently, one of those games whose attraction lies in its simplicity; I suppose that applies to Mario Bros to an extent, but there isn't all that much attraction anyway! The graphics aren't very bad, but the characters look squashed, and the turtles are a bit chunky; colour isn't used that well, either. Overall, not bad, but for eight quid, I expect a good deal more than a simple platform game.'
|Value for Money||41%|
Sometimes I reckon the Japanese have funny brains. This is not a criticism. On the contrary it is a form of praise. What other nation could have invented the Endurance game show?
What other nation would have thought of the Sony Walkman?
What other nation creates such strange arcade games? Pacman was pretty weird but Mario Bros is weirder.
The coin-op game by Nintendo dates back quite a while yet has only now been converted to the Spectrum. Did I say weird? Check this out - the idea of the game is to jump up and down some bouncy platforms trying to knock over a passing turtles (known as shellcreepers on the box). Having up ended one or more turtles you have to kick them. This makes them go away... it'd make you go away too. I should think.
The only thing that gets in the way of you flipping the turtles is the fact that they kill you if you bump into them (terror turtles) and there are crabs and fireballs hurtling around the screen. In addition the turtles don't stay flipped for ever - if you don't get to them within a certain time they leap up again. As you can see Mario Bros is very environmentally sound...
There are a few things to help you. Best is a sort of super bounce - a 'POW' block that, once hit causes everything currently on screen (almost everything) to flip. The problem is you can only use it a few times before it gets crushed beyond redemption.
Gradually the turtles trundle to the bottom of the screen and thence return back up to the top again. This gives rise to the only sure technique I discovered for flipping turtles - if you stand on the highest level but one and wait for turtles to emerge from the top it is usually possible to get them before they drop down. I got through quite a few stages this way. Another technique is the timing of the POW button bounce. If you wait until the last possible moment, before jumping, ie when a turtle is about to reach you, you stand more chance of getting a lot of flipped turtles near you (thus giving you time to go and give them a good kicking).
Every few screens or so there's a bonus screen where Mario has to jump from level to level within a strict time limit collecting what look like gold pieces. This being a Japanese game - the country that brought you Endurance - however, they are probably chicken brains. Since I managed to collect the lot within the time limit and after a lot of utterly incompetent jumps I can only surmise it isn't difficult enough.
The game actually looks very naff - a real production-line Ocean conversion. It isn't a very difficult game to program yet all we get is the bare minimum - tolerable graphics, tolerable sound. To be fair, the original arcade game hardly broke any barriers, either.
The horrible truth though is that Mario Brothers is incredibly good fun, despite all whinging about its simplicity. OK I played it lots - the game idea is ultimately what matters and for some reason, flipping turtles is a winner.
Author: Jon Woods
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
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