Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why The Super Mario Bros. Collection Makes Me Angry

The Onion’s AV Club reviewed the 25th Anniversary Super Mario Bros. Collection today. Spoiler warning: They gave it an F.

This is where you would expect the Nintendo fanboy in me to start screaming and howling about how the AV Club is not being fair to Nintendo, and they’re forgetting about the BEAUTY of these games. If that’s what you came here to read, I’m sorry to have wasted your time.

The fact of the matter is, Nintendo has dropped the ball with regards to the Anniversary Collection. I can’t even begin to describe how badly Nintendo dropped the ball. They didn’t just drop the ball, they dropped it down a storm drain and then drowned trying to go get it back, and then badgers ate the body.

Here’s what you get when you drop $30 on this anniversary collection:

  1. A warmed-over ROM of Super Mario All-Stars
  2. A booklet
  3. A music CD
  4. Regret

First of all, Super Mario All-Stars was a really fun game... in 1993 when no one EVER released games for the previous system on the new system. It was amazing to be able to play Mario 1, 2, 3 and the Lost Levels for the first time in glorious 16-bit color and sound. Those of us in the US had never even played the Lost Levels, so it was an extra treat. Plus, you could save your game! Rock ON!

That was 17 years ago. These things are now passe. For example, we’ve seen Super Mario 1 redone so many times that we’re bored by it. We’ve seen Super Mario Advance and Super Mario Advance 4, which redid Mario 2 & 3 with way more enhancements. The Lost Levels, having now been “found,” are no longer a huge draw.

On top of that, you can purchase all of these games via the Virtual Console service for $21 total. Twenty-one dollars! Let’s do the math:

$21 < $30

Via this complex mathematical formula, I have extrapolated that $21 is, in fact, LESS than their asking price for the Anniversary Collection.

“But, Mr. Blogger Nerd Rage Man, these are ENHANCED GRAPHICS! SAVE SLOTS! Not only that, but there’s a booklet and music CD! That has to be worth $9 more, right?”

You could make the argument that those additions add up to $9 worth of extras, except for two things:

  1. Nobody really likes the enhanced graphics or music. What will draw a bigger crowd, the original Super Mario Brothers music, or the “improved” Super Nintendo music? What about the “improved” graphics? What’s the bigger nostalgia trip? Essentially, Nintendo is charging you extra for something you don’t want, didn’t ask for, and don’t really like.
  2. Save slots aren’t that important anymore. Using the Virtual Console, you can easily stop your in-progress game and move on to a different game. In the NES and Super Nintendo days, there was no way to do so. Your only option was leaving the system on overnight, which could damage it or cause it to overheat. It was a Big Deal to have save slots. Now, not so much.
  3. The booklet and music CD are flimsy at best. Quick, where can you find information on the making of Super Mario Brothers? TRY EVERYWHERE. Where can you listen to the original music of the game? HEY LOOK, YOUTUBE. There is absolutely nothing here that you can’t find free elsewhere, and in many cases, better quality.
  4. Where the &#$^ is Super Mario World? For a time, they were releasing cartridges with Super Mario All-Stars and Super Mario World together. What happened? Why did they decide not to include it?

Here’s what really gets me. What did Nintendo do with this collection? They quite literally slapped a Mario All-Stars ROM on a disc and sent it off to printing. The ROM itself is maybe 8 megabytes large. What did they fill up the rest of the disc with? Pictures of their moms and dads? Vacation memories? The unabridged Oxford Dictionary? It’s quite possibly the laziest collection I have ever seen.

Let’s compare this collection to the Mega Man Anniversary Collections. The Mega Man Anniversary Collection has 8 Mega Man games on it, two unlockable Mega Man arcade games, unlockable galleries and more. The Mega Man X Anniversary Collection has 6 Mega Man games on it, an unlockable kart-racing game, and galleries. This is from Capcom, a company that has far less money than Nintendo.

Now, imagine if Nintendo had gone that extra mile. Imagine if this collection had Mario 1, 2, 3, the Lost Levels AND Super Mario World AND allowed you to unlock, say, Super Mario Land 1 and 2 and maybe Donkey Kong. I would have been happy with that. That would have been amazing. As it is, they handed out poop in a box.

Here’s the sad part: If they would have released this five years ago as a 20-year anniversary collection, it would have been amazing. Playing the Mario games on your Gamecube and using the music CD at a time when we still used CDs would have been awesome. As it is, the Super Mario Bros. Anniversary Collection was a giant missed opportunity and one of the most pathetic collections I’ve ever seen.

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