|Release: December 12, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 480p|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Looking back on this year, it is easy to come to the conclusion that 2010 belonged to Mario. With Mario Galaxy 2 starting out the year, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem carrying us through the holiday buying season, fans of Nintendo's most ubiquitous plumber already received two solid games this year. However, right before we march headlong into 2011, we are getting just one more Mario title from Nintendo. But instead of looking forward , this time we're looking back at Mario's past.
Super Mario All-Stars: 25th Anniversary Edition is a Wii port of Mario All-Stars for the SNES which was originally released in 1993. This disc includes Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario Bros. 3. There's quite a bit of content on the disc, and if you are a Mario fan and have not picked up any of these titles recently, then you will absolutely love this version of Super Mario All-Stars for the Wii. All four games are represented in all of their retro glory, and you'll certainly have a blast playing and re-playing through your favorite vintage levels. Everything in this package is designed with the old-school gamer in mind, and the games you have grown to know and love over the years are replicated here with the utmost fidelity. However, if you already have at least one of these games on the virtual console, you may want to think twice about picking this compilation title up.
Although the games themselves are a ton of fun and are certainly a tight package together, you should know that the games are completely unchanged from the original SNES Mario All-Stars compilation, and there are no exclusive Wii features. That means you'll have the same 16-bit menu screens, the same navigation style, and the same soundtrack. Although this isn't a bad thing per se, if you are looking for upgraded graphics, new music, or more content than the SNES version, you will be disappointed. This is a bit of a letdown, as even the inclusion of one or two more games (Super Mario World, anyone?) would have made this a much more worthwhile set, and at least a little bit different from the original SNES version.
The decision to keep all of the content exactly the same may evoke feelings of nostalgia, but at least in one area, the decision to keep things the way they are has negatively impacted the game overall. Though the 16-bit visuals look great when you use regular composite hookups, you will notice a large amount of visual distortions if you have your Wii hooked up to HD-ready component cables, including interrupted animations and disappearing pixels (particularily during fast-scrolling sections). Interestingly, this happens more frequently in the upscaled 16-bit games (Super Mario Bros. was upscaled from 8 to 16-bit visuals for the SNES version of All-Stars, and because of the direct port, this remains in the Wii version), and the effects can be quite jarring at times. Of course, it is easy to swap out your HD-ready component cables and plug in the default SD composite cables that came with the console, but it is still a little bit of a hassle for those of us used to playing in 480p by default with no technical issues.
The graphics issue is a bit of a downer, but the good news is that the gameplay holds up extremely well despite the seventeen years since its original SNES release. You can play all four of the games on the disc with either the Wii-mote turned sideways, the Classic Controller, or the GameCube Controller. No matter which controller method you use, the game works extremely well, but the Wii-Mote option feels especially intuitive (and quite nostalgic too!). The new controls really don't add to the experience, but at the same time, they don't detract from it either, which works in this compilations' favor.
In addition to the games themselves, Super Mario All-Stars: 25th Anniversary Edition includes a collectible soundtrack and book that both encapsulate Mario history. The CD and book come in a separate Wii case, and are certainly nice collector's items. The book is relatively small and includes blurbs about each of the "big" Mario games released over the years going all the way from Mario Bros. to this years' Mario Galaxy 2. The book also includes some brief interviews with series creator Shigeru Miyamoto as well as other people integral to the series during its rich history. The audio CD contains notable songs from Mario's history, including the ubiquitous Mario theme and more recent tracks such as the Mario Galaxy 2 theme.
Although Super Mario All-Stars is a great port on the Wii, the fact is that if you already own these games either on the Virtual Console or on the original All-Stars port, this compilation is not worth the money. However, if you are a fierce collector, or don't have these games already, $30 is a fair asking price, especially with the Limited Edition material. Just don't expect any new content with Super Mario All-Stars, as this is one experience that is cool in purely the retro sense.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Staff Contributor