Game Title: Arcade Archives – Vs Super Mario Bros.
Developer: Nintendo, Hamster
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 4 – 6.5 hours
Download: 69.8 MB
There is a fair chunk of the Nintendo Switch fanbase that are raving but also complaining about this week’s addition to the Nintendo eShop. Super Mario Bros from the late 1980s finally came to the Switch, so owners of the hybrid system can play the original game, sort of. It was not Nintendo that produced these ports, but Hamster, the company responsible for all of the Arcade Archive games that have been releasing on the Switch.
As you would expect, the NES version is not the version that released, but the Arcade version of the game, named Vs Super Mario Bros. That’s where the divided opinions come from. It is Super Mario Bros, but at the same time, it is different.
But, let’s get to it so you know just what this is and what it entails. Here is my review of Arcade Archives: Vs Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Switch!
The story of Super Mario Bros has always been simple, but here is where it has been its simplest. Bowser kidnapped Princess Peace and Mario & Luigi head out through the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue her by searching all of Bowser’s Castles to find the Real Bowser and the Princess.
Story was always light in the NES Mario games, and the Arcade version is no different. You get scenes with Toads in each of the Castles, but nothing beyond that. It’s pretty much all gameplay.
Just like the NES original, VS Super Mario Bros is a 2D platformer with combat elements thrown into the mix. Jumping into a game has you platforming through 8 worlds and fighting off Goomas, Koopas, Lakitus, and more. In that regard, not a thing has been changed between these two versions of Super Mario Bros.
Just like Metal Slug 3, this game has the same Arcade Archive enhancements as that game. That means you can play through the game in its original form, or you can do so in High Score Mode and Caravan Mode, two extra game modes that put emphasis on scores rather than taking it easy to beat the game, especially since one of those modes makes you play with only a 5-minute timer. It also includes customization options, like difficulty settings for lives and the in-game timer and the ability to make Save States.
But let’s not forget that this game has many differences from the original NES Super Mario Bros. “VS” is known as the more difficult game, modified for arcades, no doubt, to get more of your quarters back in the late 1980s. Many stages in the game are replaced by more difficult ones found in Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels and many other stages are modified so that power-ups and platforms are a little more difficult to reach.
But let’s not overdramatize this situation. It is more difficult, but savor a few stages, the game remains to be a relatively casual platforming experience. World 6 has some very tricky platforming in it, but pretty much the rest of the game is not going to test your patience, unless you’re new to platformers. The ability to make Save States at any point of the game makes it even easier to manage those difficult sections. If anything, it provides a nice little challenge for those who never played this in arcades and/or never played The Lost Levels.
Keeping this in mind, you’re playing the same game. You can use Mario for Player 1 and Luigi for Player 2 and put in as many “credits” as you wish for continues, since the Switch has a button for inserting coins instead of a coin slot like Arcade Cabinets do. And playing the game is the same song and dance as always. Jumping around environments, breaking blocks for coins and power-ups, and stomping on enemies until you take on Bowser in the Castles.
Now let’s talk about the big kicker for these Arcade Archive titles: Price and Length. Lots of people know that Super Mario Bros is not a long game. In fact, I would be shocked if it took anyone who’d played platformers before longer than 2 to 2 and a half hours to finish Worlds 1-8, even without using the hidden Warp Points to skip worlds. With Save States being a thing, I would say a single run shouldn’t take more than 2 hours, at the most.
So, we are sitting on a 2 hour experience and a price tag of 8 dollars for the US eShop Customers. I feel like I’m always talking about games costing more than they should for the play time you’re getting, but I have to stress it again. It was the same when Mario Bros came via Arcade Archives and although SMB does have more length than Mario Bros, it’s still only 2 hours for 8 bucks.
Arcade Archive games can be pretty confusing with controls. Once you get into your game, things play similarly to how their other versions play, but getting to that point can be a bit of a hassle. Since they’re emulating an Arcade Cabinet, there are mechanics for starting the game with Inserting Coins. The devs did not remove these from the game, so when you are at the SMB title screen, hitting almost every button on the system won’t do a thing.
Now let’s get into these controls. The L trigger is used to Add Credits to the game, which lets you get ready to start a new game, and the R trigger is used to initiate that game after you’ve put in however many credits you want. This has always been confusing, because the game doesn’t really tell you how to do this. You just kind of hit buttons until one does something.
Once you get into the game, though, it’s pretty simple. This is a 1980s title, after all. A is used for jumping and Y is used for running. Though I won’t lie and say this is terribly comfortable. I actually went and set B as Jump so the two buttons were closer together with how much the game relies on running jumps for long gaps.
Then you have the D-Pad for moving around along with the Left Analog Stick. Finally the Plus and Minus buttons bring up the Emulation Options. It’s a game that is simple to control, but at the same time, it is made more complicated than it should be.
Graphically, I don’t know what to say about this game. It looks good, but at the same time, it looks bad. First of all, let’s talk about the game’s resolution. By default, it is shown in a 4:3 display with borders around the actual game screen. This can be moved to be Full-Screen, but that has it’s own set of pros and cons.
No matter what Filter you use, using this game in Fullscreen Mode looks blurry and very hard on the eyes in TV Mode / Docked Mode. Every time I run it on TVs, big or small, my eyes strain and hurt as I play the game. On the Flip Side, this orientation looks really good in handheld mode, where I have no eye-strain whatsoever. So, the basics is that you need to use 4:3 in Docked Mode, Fullscreen in Handheld Mode.
Performance-wise, there’s not really a lot to complain or nitpick. The sound bug from the NES Original is here where the music cuts out when sound effects like coins and blocks breaking happens, but outside of that, the performance works pretty well.
Being such an old, simple game, Battery Life is really nice for this game. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 18 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 49 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 13 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 35 minutes
Given this information, you can actually beat the game up to 3 times with a single charge. You get loads of Battery Life with this game.
In conclusion, Vs Super Mario Bros is an interesting, but fun way for the Nintendo Switch to get the original Super Mario Bros. Although, you're shelling out 8 bucks for a 2-hour game that looks blurry in docked mode and has confusing emulator controls, this should be a fun challenge for those that never experienced Mario in the Arcades.