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Mario Bros.

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Mario Bros.
Mario Bros. arcade flyer
Promotional flyer for the 1983 arcade version of Mario Bros., showing characters and enemies from the game
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Designer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
Gunpei Yokoi
Series Mario
Platform(s) Arcade
Release date(s) 1983
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Up to two players simultaneously
Input methods 2-way joystick, 2 buttons
Cabinet Upright
CPU Zilog Z80 @ 3.072 MHz
I8039 @ 0.73 MHz
Sound DAC, samples
Mario Bros. (マリオブラザーズ?) is an arcade game published and developed by Nintendo in 1983. It was developed by Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the Mario franchise. It is a follow-up to Donkey Kong and stars Mario, a plumber who was previously named "Jumpman". To date, Mario Bros. has been rereleased more than twenty times across more than a dozen platforms. It has been commonly featured as a minigame in the Super Mario Advance series and other games. Mario Bros. has been rereleased for the Wii's Virtual Console service in Japan, North America and some PAL regions.
In this game, Mario is portrayed as an Italian-American plumber who, along with his brother Luigi, has to defeat creatures that have been coming from the sewers below New York. The gameplay focuses on Mario's extermination of pests in the sewers by flipping them on their backs and kicking them away. The original versions of Mario Bros., the arcade version and the Nintendo Entertainment System version, received positive reception. In Japan, the Nintendo Entertainment System version of Mario Bros. sold more than 1.63 million copies.


Screenshot of the original 1983 arcade version of Mario Bros., showing one of the protagonists, Mario, about to defeat a Shellcreeper that has been flipped on its back
Mario Bros. features two plumbers,[1] Mario and Luigi, having to investigate the sewers of New York after strange creatures have been appearing down there.[2] The objective of the game is to defeat all of the enemies in each phase. The mechanics of Mario Bros. involve only running and jumping. Unlike future Mario games, players cannot jump on enemies while they are invulnerable to attack. Each phase is a series of platforms with four pipes at each corner of the screen, and an object called a "POW" block in the center.[3][4] Both sides of every phase feature a mechanism that allows the player to go off-screen to the left and appear on the right and vice versa.[4]
The player gains points by defeating multiple enemies consecutively and can participate in a bonus round to gain more points.[5] Enemies are defeated by running up to them and kicking them when they are flipped on their back. Players cause enemies to flip by hitting them from below the platform they are on or by hitting the POW block to overturn all enemies on the ground. If the player allows the enemy to get up, the enemy becomes angry and increases in speed.[6] Each phase has a certain number of enemies, ended with a more powerful enemy. Enemies come in variants—for example, Sidesteppers, a type of crab, are usually red, but turn blue and become faster when they recover from being flipped or if they are the final enemy. Each enemy has its own mechanics: the Shellcreeper, a type of turtle closely related to Koopa Troopas, can be made vulnerable by hitting it from below once; the Fighter Fly, a type of fly, jumps into the air every once in a while and must be hit from below when it is not in the air; and the Sidesteppers must be hit twice from below to become vulnerable.[7] Another enemy, called a Slipice, has the ability to melt down and freeze the platform it is on, making it more difficult for the player to control the characters.


Mario Bros. was created by Shigeru Miyamoto and Gunpei Yokoi, two of the lead developers for the the video game Donkey Kong. In Donkey Kong, Mario dies if he falls too far. Yokoi suggested to Miyamoto that he would be able to fall from any height, which Miyamoto was not sure of, thinking that it would make it "not much of a game." He eventually agreed, thinking it would be okay for him to have some super-human abilities. He designed a prototype that had Mario "jumping and bouncing around", which he was satisfied with. The element of combating enemies from below was introduced after Yokoi suggested it, observing that it would work since there were multiple floors. However, it proved to be too easy to eliminate enemies this way, which the developers fixed by requiring players to touch the enemies after they've been flipped to defeat them. This was also how they introduced the turtle as an enemy, which they conceived as an enemy that could only be hit from below.[8] Because of Mario's appearance in Donkey Kong, with overalls, a hat, and a thick moustache, Shigeru Miyamoto thought that he should be a plumber as opposed to a carpenter, and designed this game to reflect that.[9] Another contributing factor was the game's setting: it was a large network of giant pipes, so they felt a change in occupation was necessary for him.[2]
A popular story of how Mario went from Jumpman to Mario is that Miyamoto's Italian-American landlord, Mario Segale, had barged in on them to demand rent, and they decided to name Jumpman after him.[10] Miyamoto also felt that the best setting for this game was New York because of its "labyrinthine subterranean network of sewage pipes."[2] The pipes were inspired by several mangas, which Miyamoto states features waste grounds with pipes lying around it. In this game, they were used in a way to allow the enemies to enter and exit the stage through them to avoid getting enemies piled up on the bottom of the stage. The green coloring of the pipes, which Nintendo president Satoru Iwata calls an uncommon color, came from Miyamoto having a limited color palette and wanting to keep things colorful. He added that green was the best because it worked well when two shades of it were combined.[8]
Mario Bros. is one of the first platform games ever created, along with Donkey Kong.[9] It also introduced Mario's brother, Luigi, who was created for the multiplayer mode by doing a palette swap of Mario.[9] The two-player mode and several aspects of gameplay were inspired by an earlier video game called Joust.[11] To date, Mario Bros. has been released for more than a dozen platforms.[12] The first movement from Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik is used to open each phase.[13] This song has been used in later video games, including Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix[13] and Super Smash Bros. Brawl.[14]

Ports and follow-ups

Screenshot from Mario Clash (1995) for the Virtual Boy.
Mario Bros. has been re-released many times by itself and as a sub-game in other games. It was also rereleased on the Wii's Virtual Console service in North America, Australia, Europe and Japan.[15] It is also remade on copies of games in the Game Boy Advance's Super Mario Advance games[16] as well as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga,[17] and it was included as a mini-game in Super Mario Bros. 3.[18] The NES version was included as a piece of furniture in Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube, along with many other NES games, though this one required the use of an e-Reader, a Game Boy Advance accessory, and an Animal Crossing e-Card.[19] This version was released in the second series of NES e-Cards as well,[20], and was also released in the Famicom Mini series, the Japanese variant of the Classic NES Series of games. It never came outside of Japan.[21] A remake was made called Mario Bros. Classic—known as Kaettekita Mario Bros. (かえってきたマリオブラザーズ?, Return of Mario Bros. or Mario Bros. Returns) in Japan—featuring similar gameplay with added features and new revisions to the gameplay. It also featured cut-scenes and advertisements.[22]
In 1984, Hudson Soft made two different games based on Mario Bros. The first was Mario Bros. Special, which was a re-imagining of the original Mario Bros. with new phases, mechanics and gameplay. The second was Punch Ball Mario Bros., which featured a new gameplay mechanic involving punching small balls to stun enemies.[23] Both games were released only for the NEC PC-8801 and FM-7. Both games have been described as average for the most part, neither the best or worst games in the series.[23]
A sequel to Mario Bros., Mario Clash, was released in 1995. The game was released for the Virtual Boy and produced by Nintendo.[24] It is the first 3D Mario game and is heavily based on Mario Bros.. The objective of the game is to knock all the enemies in a particular phase off ledges. Instead of hitting them from below, like in Mario Bros., the player must hit enemies using Koopa shells.[25]


Review scores
Publication Score
Allgame 4.5/5 stars (Arcade)[26]
stars (Atari 5200)[27]
GameSpot 4.9/10 (Virtual Console)[28]
IGN 4.5/10 (Virtual Console)[29]
6/10 (e-Reader)[30]
Mario Bros. was only modestly successful in the arcades in Japan.[9] The arcade cabinets have since become mildly rare.[31] To date in Japan, the NES version of Mario Bros. has sold more than 1.63 million copies, and the Famicom Mini re-release of the NES version has sold more than 90,000 copies.[32][33] Despite being released during the North American video game crash of 1983, the arcade game, as well as the industry, were not affected. Video game author Dave Ellis considers it one of the more memorable classic games.[34] The game was subsequently ported to the Apple II, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit computers, Atari 7800[35], Amstrad CPC, Sinclair Spectrum, and Commodore 64. The last system had two versions: the Atarisoft port released in 1984 and a version by Ocean Software in 1986.
Opinions on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) version of Mario Bros. have been mostly mixed. In a review of the Virtual Console game, GameSpot criticized the NES version for being a poor port of the arcade version.[28] The Virtual Console version in particular was heavily criticized. GameSpot criticized it, saying that not only is it a port of an inferior version, but it retains all of the technical flaws found in this version. It also criticizes the Mario Bros. ports in general, saying that this is just one of many ports that have been made of it throughout Nintendo's history.[28] IGN complimented the Virtual Console version's gameplay, though it made no comparison between the arcade and NES versions.[29] IGN also agreed on the issue of the number of ports. They said that since most people have Mario Bros. on one of the Super Mario Advance games, this version is not worth 500 Wii Points.[29] The Nintendo e-Reader version of Mario Bros. was slightly more well-received by IGN, who praised the gameplay, but criticized it for lack of multiplayer and for not being worth the purchase because of the Super Mario Advance versions.[30]
The Super Mario Advance releases all featured the same version of Mario Bros., as well as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. The mode was first included in Super Mario Advance, and was praised for its simplicity and entertainment value.[36] IGN called this mode fun in its review of Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2, but complained that it would have been nice if the developers had come up with a new game to replace it.[37] Their review of Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 criticizes it more so than in the review of Super Mario Advance 2, because Nintendo chose to remove several mini-games found in the Super NES version of that game and replace them with an identical version of the Mario Bros. game found in previous versions.[38] GameSpot's review of Super Mario Bros. 3: Super Mario Advance 4 calls it a throwaway feature that could have simply been gutted.[16] Other reviewers were not as negative on the feature's use in later Super Mario Advance games. Despite its use being criticized in most Super Mario Advance games, a GameSpy review called the version found in Super Mario Advance 2 a blast to play in multi-player because it only requires at least two Game Boy Advances, one copy of the game, and a link cable.[39]

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