Super Mario Bros. Deluxe is a re-release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) classic Super Mario Bros. for Game Boy Color (GBC), with some major enhancements. This is the familiar story where Princess Toadstool is kidnapped by King Koopa, and it is in your hands, as Mario, to go and save her. Other than encompassing classic game play, what makes this package remarkable is the amount of extras included that helps it be a whole lot better than it might first appear.
Super Mario Bros. is the game that redefined what video games could be like back in 1985, and it shipped with the NES. This led to the game being the second most sold game of all time as of this writing (source: Wikipedia). It\'s a 2D, side scrolling adventure where you run, jump, and if you have the fire flower, shoot fireballs at those in your way as you traverse eight worlds, with four levels each, to finally save the princess in world 8-4. Most baddies go down with a simple jump on the head, while others need to be dealt with more carefully. It\'s pretty primitive by modern standards, but it\'s a timeless classic, and ages fairly well.
This game is more than just a port. But as a port, it has to deal with a few difficulties of the platform. A pixel perfect conversion is not possible on the Game Boy Color, since the screen size is so radically different. The GBC has a screen resolution of 160x144, while the NES typically uses 256x224. As a result, Nintendo had to make a choice; either sacrifice visual quality, or viewable area. They chose viewable area, and went for a panning interface. If you are not moving, you can press and hold up to move the screen up, and down to move it down. For the horizontal panning, it\'s a little tricky. As you move to the right, it shows you more of what\'s coming. If Mario faces behind him to the left, your view will slowly pan backwards to help you see that way. Also if you move backwards, it will pan a bit more. While this is definitely handy, it can make for some frustrating moments, as a few times I jumped far right, stopped short of a pit, and let Mario face backwards for too long, and lost my view of where I was going. You can press select to reset your view, though. I hadn\'t figured this out until I was done with the game (oops!) so I can say they did pretty well even without that feature. Overall, while this camera movement is tricky at times, it works fairly well.
Beyond the diminished viewable area, there are other changes that more than make up for it. The first is the introduction of a map area of sorts. In later Super Mario games, starting with Super Mario Bros. 3, you traverse a map that shows the general layout of the level, and in some cases, can lead to alternate paths. While there are no alternate paths here, and you can\'t go back to previous levels with this screen, it\'s a nice touch to help this game feel different. Another bonus is that the game allows you to save at any time, and when you load your saves, you keep however many lives you had at the time, and whatever level you were on. This is great, since portable games can often only be played for short periods, so you can easily play one level and not lose progress.
A more substantial change than porting tweaks is the addition of Challenge mode. In Challenge mode, you get to play each of the 32 different levels individually, but with a twist. Each level has five red coins scattered throughout, and often hidden in unexpected places. It\'s your job to find them all, which will earn you an award. You can also go to achieve the high score on a level, which will earn you another. The last award is earned by finding a hidden Yoshi egg somewhere in the level. These challenges are a good way to extract more game play from the standard levels, and a fun distraction.
There are other useful features that help round out the base package. There is a VS. Game, which I cannot try out, as getting not only two linkable Game Boys together can be tricky, but two copies of this game as well. Other handy extras include Records, where you can view your main game and challenge high scores. There is also an album for the collection lovers among us, as you can gain a whole bunch of new stickers as you accomplish certain things while playing. This feature also has Game Boy Printer support, if you like mementos and such things. There is also the toy box, which includes a few simple \'toys\', like a calendar, or a fortune teller card game. There are a couple of other unlockable toys which include a Yoshi finder, which can make Challenge mode easier as you hunt for Yoshi.
There are two other major unlockables that add a whole lot to this package. If you don\'t like spoilers, you can skip these next two paragraphs, though it\'s hardly a secret so long after this game was new. The first is Boo Race. You can race against Boo, a ghost, and try to defeat him by running as fast as possible through eight custom made levels each reminiscent of the level they represent, 1-1 through 2-4. Not only do you have to get through the levels, but you also have to hit specially timed blocks, switches, or other obstacles unique to this mode and beat the Boo who gets to go right through all of this stuff. It\'s another fun diversion, and a neat way to see the designers take advantage of a way to create all new content.
The second, and really great hidden bonus feature is what this game calls Super Mario Bros. For Super Players. This is another rendition of the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, which first came here in the Super Nintendo Entertainment System\'s (SNES) compilation cartridge, Super Mario All-Stars as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. The Lost Levels is essentially a much more challenging Super Mario game on what is basically the same engine as the original, with a few twists, like deadly mushrooms. There are a few things from this version missing that were in the original and Lost Levels versions, like some of the cruelest features of the original game (like wind), the differences between Mario and Luigi, and a few graphical changes where assets from the first game were reused, like the level backgrounds. Even still, the core of the game is present, even as in the original the engine is essentially identical to the first Super Mario Bros. Nevertheless, though a few of these changes make the game slightly easier, it\'s still a great package. And, it\'s the only way for us to enjoy these levels on the go. Though the SNES compilation has never been surpassed as the best Super Mario collection, this is nevertheless a very good way to experience the first two Super adventures of Mario and Luigi, especially in a portable fashion.
The sound, music, and graphics are essentially identical to the original Super Mario Bros., other than the differences noted above. As it turns out, this is not too bad for a Game Boy Color game, though by no means state of the art. But, being a faithful port, it doesn\'t have to be. There does not appear to be any additional Stereo sound effects either. Again, not necessary. If it looks and sounds identical to the original, then it is a perfect port. And for the most part, it is.
From a Christian standpoint, this game is nearly squeaky clean. There is a Boo in the game, which is a ghost. One of the bonus toys in a fortune teller, where you can find out how lucky you are right now. While I don\'t appreciate the fortune telling especially, it\'s all in a fairly innocent and fairy tale manner, typical of Mario games. There is violence against cartoon enemies, in that you bop enemy koopas or goombas over the head by jumping on them, or throw fireballs at them. It\'s all very basic, and child safe for the most part.
Super Mario Bros. Deluxe is, despite its flaws, probably the best portable Super Mario Bros. remake to date. There is another one on Game Boy Advance, and while that shows nearly the whole screen, it\'s missing the many, many extras that make this version great, including save game support. While some caution needs to be noted for minor appropriateness issues, I think it\'s a very good way to take a classic with you, if you have the needed hardware to play a classic cartridge like this one.
Sexual Content/Nudity 10/10
Appropriateness Total: 47/50
Game Play 18/20
Game Score Total: 45/50