First Impressions: Super Mario Bros.

Some games are destined to become classics. After a few sleepless nights I can safely say that Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. is one of those. It takes everything we’ve grown to love about Nintendo’s arcade and Game & Watch games, throws in a pinch of Pitfall-styled adventure and then takes everything up to a notch.

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The player takes control of Mario (and his brother Luigi in multiplayer mode), a character familiar from the Donkey Kong arcade game. The goal of the game is to save the princess, who has been kidnapped by a fire-breathing monster, Bowser. The variety of level design is impressive: before the rescue mission is over, the player will have to make their way through green fields, dark basements, and even underwater levels.

Super Mario Bros. truly has a way of sucking the player in. The weird and wacky world and fearsome enemies (a man surfing on a cloud and throwing spiny eggs at the player and a turtle-like creature with a seemingly endless arsenal of hammers for starters) make putting down the controller next to impossible. Surprisingly enough, the music is also very catchy, the main title being most likely the single most memorable tune in video game history so far. This is nothing like the non-musical bleeps and bloops of the Atari-era.

The learning curve of Super Mario Bros. is not very steep. However, the game is also extremely difficult to master. Due to hidden shortcuts and bonus levels, there are in fact many ways to complete the game. In addition, the unlockable harder difficulty (available after completing the game once) makes sure that the replay value is absolutely fantastic – it seems safe to say that you will quite likely be playing this one for years to come.

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Nintendo Entertainment System Now Ships With a Zapper Gun

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Everyone loves to shoot things. This simple fact is part of the reason why video arcades are packed with games with gun controllers. Now Nintendo has decided it’s time to bring this innovation to people’s homes. The more expensive version ($249) of Nintendo Entertainment System comes with an electronic light gun called the Zapper. This futuristic-looking device resembles something out of Star Wars movie – the design goes really well with the ultra-cool looks of the NES itself. As a controller, the Zapper is really responsive. One really gets the feeling of shooting a real gun.

The game we tried was called Duck Hunt. The goal of the game is, simply enough, to shoot ducks that are flying past on the screen. The player gets three shots for every duck and after the shooting is done, points are given accordingly depending on his/her accuracy. As a single-player game Duck Hunt soon becomes a bit tedious. As a multiplayer experience it is a whole different beast, however. We ended up having tremendous fun competing against each other for points.

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Your shooting in Duck Hunt is aided by this friendly dog.

That said, Duck Hunt still suffers from the fact that it really feels more like a bundled “filler” game more than something one would go and buy for a full price, especially judged against the superb Super Mario Bros. That said, as a demonstration of what the Zapper can do it more than delivers. Plus there’s no denying that having a light gun at home is simply awesome.

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Nintendo Releases a New Gaming Console

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Nintendo, a Japanese company known for such arcade hits as Donkey Kong and Wild Gunman has released a gaming console. The straightforwardly named Nintendo Entertainment System took the Japanese market by storm in 1983 and has finally arrived in the US. Hardware-wise NES is quite a beast indeed: 2KiB of onboard work RAM, 48 colors and 6 grays (up to 25 simultaneous colors!) and staggering 256 x 240 resolution. Graphics and sound-wise, the games look and sound unlike anything we’ve seen before.

In spite of all the (admittedly impressive) technical show off, the question still remains whether or not the public is really interested in video games anymore. During the past few years, former industry leader Atari has gone dramatically downhill sales-wise, and therefore Intellivision has remained the only home video system that has even somewhat survived the infamous game crash of 1983.

However, Atari’s downfall may very well have been the low quality of their games during the last year, so perhaps the demand for video games still exists and, if it does, Nintendo is basically entering an empty stage here. The claim that video games are far from dead is further supported by the fact that arcade games are still very much alive and kicking – and Nintendo knows this better than anyone.

Plus, if it is the quality that matters, Nintendo seems to have it covered. Super Mario Bros., an adventure game that comes bundled with the console is one of the best things we’ve played since Pitfall. Moreover, it must be said that Nintendo has really done a brilliant job with their marketing campaign. Check out their deranged television commercial below. This really is the stuff of legends:

Nintendo Entertainment System is now available from most department stores and toy retailers starting from somewhat expensive $199.

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