While Super Mario Bros. is probably the most well-known game in the main Mario series, the Game & Watch game of the same title is perhaps the most obscure of all the side scrolling Mario games.
I’m sure you may think that, as this is a Game & Watch game, you can expect certain things of it, namely: all the action taking place in a one screen area, doing a simple task over and over which gets progressively harder each time and the main replay value being to beat your own high scores. Well, this game will totally subvert your expectations. It’s a side scroller and it has eight visually distinct levels of reasonable length. I was certainly very impressed by this.
All of the levels are auto-scrolling and require Mario keep going forward while avoiding getting ‘squashed’ between a wall and the left side of the screen. There are very few enemies (though occasionally a Bullet Bill or Fire Bar will appear) and it really is just a game of pure platforming. Things change a little in underwater levels, where Mario can move both up and down as well as left and right, and castle levels where he has to pass through several single screen segments and avoid Fire Bars. It’s very basic, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still fun. There are even a couple of pieces of music recreated from the NES game!
Story-wise I’m not entirely sure what is happening. Princess Peach is waiting for Mario at the end of every stage, and at the end of the eighth stage, there’s a small picture that looks a little like Bowser falling out of a castle (or something) but I really couldn’t tell. Those are the only hints to the plot. But then again, its story and how it fits in with other Mario games isn’t really important to a game like this and it’s a detail which will only really matter to fans like me.
This is a real curiosity of Nintendo’s past and is sadly very hard to come across, but if you get a chance, you should try this game.