“Super Mario All-Stars” 25th Anniversary Edition: For Completists Only

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There’s a problem when you’re a company like Nintendo, which leans very heavily on its franchise characters year in, year out and constantly goes to its back catalogue. Eventually, you start to hit the bottom of the well and wind up re-packaging stuff that’s already been re-packaged.

Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition definitely falls in that category. It collects three seminal Super Mario Games and one more that was never initially released in the United States. However, the content on the disc–Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros 2, Super Mario Bros.: the Lost Levels and Super Mario Bros 3–has been available for download on the Wii’s Virtual Console for a long time now. Nintendo certainly could have seen fit to add in another few Mario games into the package, like Super Mario World, into the package. But, they’re probably saving that for the next anniversary they need to round-up content for. (More on Techland: The Reapers Abound In “Mass Effect 3″)

The visual touch-ups do make the games look amazing, with colors that pop and animations that seem to pack even more charm than they did in their first versions. However, no effort’s been made to universalize the experience across the three titles. Sure, they all share the same graphical refresh but they control slightly differently. For example, some of the enemies in SMB2 don’t die when you jump on their heads. Taken out of context, it’s a bit jarring for someone who hasn’t ever played these games or who’s been away from these early Mario titles for a while. And that disconnect highlights just how hard the first titles in the franchise were. I’d argue that players who enjoyed this year’s excellent Super Mario Galaxy 2 would be quickly frustrated by the difficulty found in these games.

But, if you are a completist, then All-Stars will scratch your hoarding itch. The package includes a fancy art booklet detailing the series’ history and also offers a CD with the classic Super Mario theme music and sound effects. Yes, at $30, it’s much cheaper than a new Wii game  All in all, it only makes sense to add Super Mario Bros. All-Stars 25th Anniversary to your library if you haven’t already downloaded the titles on the disc or if you need every bit of Mario ephermera ever released.

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