Super Mario All-Stars
Super Mario All-Stars is a 1993 compilation of platform games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). It contains remakes of Nintendo's four Super Mario games released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Family Computer Disk System: Super Mario Bros. (1985), Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (1986), Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988), and Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988). The remakes adapt the games for the SNES with updated graphics and music. As in the original games, the player controls the Italian plumber Mario and his brother Luigi through themed worlds, collecting power-ups, avoiding obstacles, and finding secret areas. Changes include the addition of parallax scrolling, modified game physics, and bug fixes.
|Super Mario All-Stars|
North American SNES box art
|Platform(s)||Super NES, Wii|
After the completion of Super Mario Kart (1992), Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto suggested Nintendo develop a SNES Mario compilation. Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development handled the development of Super Mario All-Stars. As the 16-bit SNES was more powerful than the 8-bit NES, the developers were able to remaster the games in the transition across platforms. They based the updated designs on those from Super Mario World (1990) and strove to retain the feel of the original NES Mario games. Nintendo released Super Mario All-Stars worldwide in late 1993 and rereleased it in 1994 with Super Mario World included as an additional game. The game was rereleased twice for the anniversary of Super Mario Bros.: in 2010 on the Wii for the game's 25th anniversary, in a special package with an art booklet and soundtrack CD; and in 2020 on the Nintendo Switch for its 35th anniversary.
The SNES version received critical acclaim and is one of the bestselling Super Mario games, with 10.55 million copies sold by 2015. Reviewers lauded Super Mario All-Stars as a must-have representing the SNES at its finest. They praised the effort that went into remastering the compilation's games and appreciated the updated graphics and music, but criticized its lack of innovation. The Wii rerelease sold 2.24 million copies by 2011 but received mixed reviews for its lack of new games or features. Critics were also unimpressed by the art booklet and soundtrack CD, and recommended buying the games individually on the Wii's Virtual Console instead.
Super Mario All-Stars is a compilation of four video games in the Super Mario series—Super Mario Bros. (1985), Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (1986), Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988), and Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)—originally released for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Family Computer Disk System. Additionally, a two-player bonus game based on Mario Bros. (1983) can be accessed from Super Mario Bros. 3. The games are faithful remakes featuring the original premises and level designs intact. They are 2D side-scrolling platformers where the player controls the Italian plumber Mario and his brother Luigi through themed worlds. They jump between platforms, avoid enemies and inanimate obstacles, find hidden secrets (such as warp zones and vertical vines), and collect power-ups like the mushroom and the Invincibility Star.
Super Mario Bros., The Lost Levels, and Super Mario Bros. 3 follow Mario and Luigi as they attempt to rescue Princess Toadstool from the villainous Bowser, with the player stomping on enemies and breaking bricks as they progress. Super Mario Bros. 2 features a different storyline and gameplay style: Mario, Luigi, the Princess, and Toad must defeat the evil King Wart, who has cursed the land of dreaming. In this game, the player picks up and throws objects such as vegetables at enemies. The player selects one of the four from an in-game menu and can exit at any time by pausing.
The games in Super Mario All-Stars are updated to take advantage of the 16-bit hardware of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The updates range from remastered soundtracks to revamped graphics and the addition of parallax scrolling. Game physics are slightly modified and some glitches, such as the Minus World in Super Mario Bros., are fixed. The difficulty level of The Lost Levels is toned down slightly: poison mushroom hazards, which can kill the player, are easier to distinguish, and there are more 1-ups and checkpoints. All-Stars includes the option to save player progress, which the original games lack. Players can resume the games from the start of any previously accessed world, or in The Lost Levels, any previously accessed level. Up to four individual save files can be stored for each game.
Super Mario All-Stars was developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development, a former game development division of Japanese publisher Nintendo. It had the working title Mario Extravaganza as, according to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, "It was a single game cartridge packed full of the first ten years of Nintendo's rich history."
The idea for a compilation emerged after the completion of Super Mario Kart (1992). The next major Mario game, Yoshi's Island (1995), was still in production, creating a gap in Nintendo's release schedule. Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto suggested developing a "value pack" containing all the Super Mario games released until that point. According to Tadashi Sugiyama, who served as the project's assistant director and designer, Miyamoto's idea was to give players a chance to experience The Lost Levels. Nintendo had deemed The Lost Levels, released in Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2 in 1986, too difficult for the North American market and instead released a retrofitted version of the game Doki Doki Panic (1987) as the region's Super Mario Bros. 2. As such, it had not attracted much of an audience. Rather than simply transferring the NES games unedited to a SNES cartridge, Nintendo chose to remaster them in the transition across platforms.
One of the first tasks the developers accomplished was updating and reworking the graphics for the SNES. Because it was more powerful than the NES, they were no longer restricted in the colors they could use to design Mario's world. Designer Naoki Mori recalled feeling intimidated, as it was only his third year at Nintendo and he had been tasked with updating the company's flagship game. The artists based their designs on those from Super Mario World (1990) and added a black outline around Mario to make him stand out against the backgrounds. For pitch-black backgrounds like those in castles and bonus areas in Super Mario Bros., Mori and Sugiyama added details such as portraits of Bowser and Mario. The team strove to retain the feel of the original games by leaving level designs and Mario's movement unaltered. To preserve the gameplay, they chose not to add new animations and actions.
Alterations were done by hand, and Sugiyama ran the original Super Mario Bros. while he worked on the remake so he could compare them side by side. Staff who worked on the original games were involved and consulted during development. Nintendo chose to leave certain glitches the team deemed helpful, such as an infinite lives exploit in Super Mario Bros.. However, for that glitch, they set a limit on how many lives the player could earn. Sugiyama recalled the team fixed glitches they thought would interfere with players' progress, although fixing them caused some differences in the controls. To make the games easier, Nintendo gave players more lives when they started. The developers also added the option to save, as battery backup cartridges did not exist when the original Super Mario Bros. was created. The decision to have save points at the end of each level in The Lost Levels was made to alleviate the game's difficulty. While he helped with the other remakes, Mori avoided debugging The Lost Levels because it was so difficult.
Nintendo released Super Mario All-Stars in Japan on July 14, 1993, in North America on August 11, 1993, and in Europe on December 16, 1993. In Japan, it was released as Super Mario Collection. The compilation marked the first time The Lost Levels was released outside Japan. Between September and October 1993, Nintendo Power held a contest in which players who reached a specific area in The Lost Levels would receive a Mario iron-on patch. The compilation also became the SNES's pack-in game.
Nintendo rereleased Super Mario All-Stars in December 1994 as Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World, which adds Super Mario World. Super Mario World is largely identical to the original, but Luigi's sprites were updated to make him a distinct character and not just a palette swap of Mario. A version of Super Mario Collection was also released on Nintendo's Satellaview, a Japan-exclusive SNES add-on allowing users to receive games via satellite radio. Super Mario Advance (2001) and Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (2003), remakes of Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3 for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance (GBA), incorporate elements from the Super Mario All-Stars remake, such as the updated graphics and audio.
In 2010, for the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., Nintendo released Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition (Super Mario Collection Special Pack in Japan) for the Wii in Japan on October 21, in Europe on December 3, and in North America on December 12. The 25th Anniversary Edition comes in special packaging containing the original Super Mario All-Stars ROM image on a Wii disc, a 32-page Super Mario History booklet containing concept art and interviews, and a soundtrack CD containing sound effects and 10 tracks from most Mario games up to Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010). The compilation was released initially in limited quantities which sold out quickly, prompting Nintendo to issue a second printing. The compilation was once again rereleased in 2020 on the Nintendo Switch for the original game's 35th anniversary, coming free as part of the subscription-based Nintendo Switch Online's classic games service.
Super Mario All-Stars sold 10.55 million copies by 2015, including 2.12 million in Japan, making it one of the bestselling Super Mario games. The compilation received critical acclaim. Reviewers thought it was a must-have that represented the SNES library at its finest, and would occupy players for hours, if not days. Nintendo Magazine System (NMS) estimated it could entertain players for up to a year. A critic from Computer and Video Games (CVG) described Super Mario All-Stars as the Super Mario director's cut, bringing fans updated graphics and audio in addition to a game (The Lost Levels) few had experienced. A reviewer from Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM), overwhelmed by the improvements, called it a "masterpiece from beginning to end".
Critics praised the collection's games as excellent remasters, stating they aged well and appreciating the effort that went into retrofitting them for the SNES. For AllGame, retrospectively reviewing the version including Super Mario World, the compilation represented "the absolute pinnacle of the 2D platform genre". Critics said the games played just as they did on the NES and retained what made them great. EGM's reviewers were satisfied the various secrets were left intact. Nintendo Power wrote the games got better with time, while EGM and CVG suggested players abandon the antiquated NES games for the SNES upgrade. Although one of the NMS reviewers admitted to preferring Super Mario World, citing the compilation's less instinctive controls and somewhat simplistic graphics, he said Super Mario All-Stars was still worth buying.
Reviewers liked the updates the games received in the transition to the SNES. Nintendo Power, for instance, praised the addition of a save feature, believing it would give players who never finished the games a chance to do so. The updated graphics were praised; NMS's reviewers admired the attention to detail, which they said made the compilation worth buying, and AllGame called the visuals colorful and cartoonish. CVG thought the backgrounds could have benefited from more detail, but GamePro thought they were detailed enough. Reviewers offered praise for the updated soundtracks as well. For EGM, the audio enhanced the experience, and GamePro noted the addition of echo and bass effects. In a 2005 retrospective, Famitsu called All-Stars a role model for future video game remakes.
Criticism of Super Mario All-Stars generally focused on its lack of innovation. Aside from the 16-bit updates, save feature, and (for American audiences) The Lost Levels, Nintendo Power wrote, the compilation did not present anything new, a sentiment CVG echoed. "[I]f the best cart around is a compilation of old eight-bit games," wrote Edge, "it doesn't say much for the standard of new games, does it?" Reviewers also disagreed over which game in the compilation was best. One EGM reviewer argued Super Mario Bros. 2 was, but another critic and Nintendo Power said that honor went to The Lost Levels. NMS, CVG, and Edge, however, criticized The Lost Levels for its difficulty, with Nintendo Magazine System viewing it as just an interesting bonus. Edge said the compilation was worth buying for Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3, but not Super Mario Bros. 2 because the reviewer found its gameplay lacking fluidity and the level design poor.
In 1997, when the EGM staff ranked Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario Bros. 3 in its list of the best console games of all time, they specified the All-Stars edition for all three games. In the listing for Super Mario Bros. 3 (ranked at number 2), they noted, "Just a reminder: We're not including compilation games on our Top 100, or Super Mario All-Stars would be the clear-cut number-one game of all time."
25th Anniversary Edition
|Nintendo World Report||6/10|
According to the review aggregator website Metacritic, the Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition received "mixed or average reviews". This version sold 2.24 million copies by April 2011—920,000 in Japan and 1.32 million overseas. Generally, critics were disappointed Nintendo simply rereleased the SNES compilation unaltered, which they found lazy. They expressed surprise the developers did not take advantage of the extra space Wii discs offer to add more games or use the Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World version. The Guardian compared the 25th Anniversary Edition unfavorably to the Wii remaster of the Nintendo 64 game GoldenEye 007 (1997) released earlier that year. The writer argued that while GoldenEye offered new graphics, levels, and reasons to play, Super Mario All-Stars was just the same compilation released on the SNES in 1993. The A.V. Club went as far as to state the 25th Anniversary Edition "fails on every conceivable level, and a few inconceivable ones, too".
The Super Mario History booklet divided reviewers. Nintendo Life and The A.V. Club panned it for what they considered its cheap production quality. Although Nintendo Life found it somewhat intriguing, both called the one-sentence developer comments vague and meaningless. The A.V. Club said the level design documents were "obscured by pictures, and schematics written in Japanese with no translation". Meanwhile, IGN opined the booklet failed to demonstrate Mario's importance, missing information about the Game Boy installments and Yoshi's Island, as well as appearances in other Nintendo games. Others found the booklet interesting; GamesRadar+ stated that for Mario fans Miyamoto's original outline "alone is worth $30".
The soundtrack CD received criticism and was viewed as a missed opportunity. Reviewers were disappointed it contained only ten pieces of actual music and that half of it was dedicated to sound effects. For instance, Nintendo Life said a CD can hold up to 74 minutes of audio and noted "the one bundled with this collection doesn't even fill half of that potential running time." Similarly, IGN said ten pieces were not enough, noting Super Mario Galaxy (2007) had more than twenty unique tracks but the CD included just one. Conversely, The Guardian said the CD would make players happy and GamesRadar+ thought it was rare for Nintendo to release game soundtracks outside Japan. GamesRadar+ added the CD helped make the compilation seem important, and that it represented the first time Nintendo officially released the Super Mario Bros. "Ground Theme".
Nintendo Life wrote there was no reason for Nintendo not to add more to the compilation, suggesting it would not have taken much effort to add interviews, advertisements, and other behind-the-scenes content. Despite the general disappointment, critics thought the compilation's games remained of high quality. Some admitted to preferring the NES originals, but others thought the updated 16-bit graphics and addition of a save feature were great. However, some encouraged readers to purchase the games individually on the Wii's Virtual Console service instead if they had not already purchased the compilation. GamesRadar+, IGN, and Official Nintendo Magazine noted this was a cheaper way to experience them. As Nintendo World Report wrote, "in the end, the value of [Super Mario All-Stars] lies in whether you want to invest once more in these classic Mario titles."
- Known in Japan as Super Mario Collection (スーパーマリオコレクション)
- In the Japanese version, The Lost Levels is referred to as Super Mario Bros. 2, while Super Mario Bros. 2 is called Super Mario USA. See #Development and release for more information.
- EGM's four reviewers gave three scores of 9/10 and one of 10/10.
- Famitsu gave two 8/10 scores, one perfect score, and one 6/10 score.
- GamePro gave four 5/5 scores for graphics, sound, control, and fun factor.
- Nintendo Power gave a 3.9/5 score for presentation, a 4.2/5 score for gameplay, and two 4.1/5 scores for challenge and theme/fun.
- Score based on 29 reviews.
- Edge staff 1993, pp. 98–99.
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