Super Mario Bros

Graphics: 4
Sound: 4
Control: 5
Depth: 4
Overall: 4.5

Super Mario Bros

By: Nintendo
Released: 1985

It defined a genre and put the NES on the map (at least in the U.S.). Precursors to the platformer – like Pitfall!, Jumpman and Donkey Kong – set the stage for what Super Mario Bros perfected. As Mario, your goal is to rescue the princess, yet you are no knight, but a mustachioed plumber. You explore eight worlds, jumping on platforms and hopping on enemies. Many previous games featured a jumping mechanic, but in Super Mario Bros, inertia is always a factor and you can control your jump even when you are in midair. The graphics are clean and crisp, and the character sprites are probably the most iconic of all in the NES library. The number of secrets and different shortcuts – such as going down secret pipes, finding hidden beanstalks to climb and discovering warp zones to jump ahead to further levels – was unprecedented in 1985.

On a personal note, it was the first NES game I ever played. My friends and I would take turns trying to best the top score by playing only worlds 1-1 and 1-2. It involved finding the best route of secrets and stomping on every enemy. I guess it was an early impromptu Score Attack mode that also allowed us to take turns. I have much of the game memorized, and I know the quickest route to World 8. This is where the game becomes Nintendo Hard. (Early 8-bit games worked with limited memory, so many NES titles were difficult to finish without practice, persistence and a bit of luck.) I have never beaten it – the farthest my Marios have progressed is the 2nd to last stage, yet to this day, if you want to master any platformer, there is no better game to learn from than Super Mario Bros.

- Ben Langberg