Was Super Mario All-Stars A Faithful Remake?
Developed by Nintendo and released on the 14th of July 1993 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Mario All-Stars was a compilation of four 2D sidescrolling Super Mario games released on the same console, all remade with updated controls and 16-bit graphics to be one of the best values in gaming at the time. It’s still great to this day, as these four titles are some of the best ever in the medium's history and have stood the test of time whilst burrowing into our hearts as that good ol’ nostalgic feeling that we crave more and more of these days. From the original Super Mario Bros. to the weird and wacky Super Mario Bros. 2 to the unforgettable Super Mario Bros. 3 to even the hard-as-heck Japan-only title known as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. All of these releases are stone-cold classics, and no one should ever complain about getting something with this much merit all-in-one on their videogame consoles. However, there is still one issue with this compilation, which is the purity of it all.
It might be surprising to some of you, but tons of people still prefer the visuals, physics, audio, and feel of the Nintendo Entertainment System versions of these four games. So with that in mind, was Super Mario All-Stars a faithful remake? Personally, I grew up with both the original titles and the remakes, but I played more of the latter, so I’d say I have more of an affiliation with Super Mario All-Stars, as it was the one I played the most. But I’m not going to let my happy memories cloud my judgement this time because, like I just said, this is one divisive game, and nostalgia is a hell of a drug, so let’s get down to business!
First of all, when you’re talking about something like Super Mario All-Stars, you can’t get around the fact that it was a groundbreaking release because it set a precedent for all future remasters, ports, and remakes. Those existed beforehand, but at that point, nothing even came close to the seismic shift that came from a compilation of this scale coming out in the 1990s. Following All-Star’s release, many companies joined the trend of regurgitating all of their old content for years to come (which still happens today, by the way). Nintendo once again set a precedent for the industry with this game, so every other developer and publisher should thank the brilliant minds at this 100-year-old Japanese company for the end of time (I jest). So, yes, in that sense Super Mario All-Stars was worth it back in the day and even 30 years later. Seriously, go play it right now if you haven’t yet! But even if it holds its value, the question of whether it is faithful remains.
Looking at the visuals, they obviously still hold up today and look absolutely gorgeous now, but a lot of the old aesthetic is gone. Take a look at the original Super Mario Bros. 3 compared to the remake version, and it’s not hard to tell the difference between the two. The 16-bit graphics add a lot of detail, which is great, but some people might miss the simplicity of the 8-bit visuals, including myself. It’s a hard question to answer because it just comes down to personal preference when discussing graphics. Thankfully for us, Nintendo changed the controls and the physics in this remake. For example, when you’re playing Super Mario All Stars, you can use two extra buttons because of the Super Nintendo’s improved controller setup, which I vastly prefer. I don’t know how to explain it, but Super Nintendo controls have always clicked with me more than the previous console's two-button input. So that almost settles it, but it’s just not far enough!
Fortunately, there is one element of Mario games that almost everyone will agree has to be kept in its original state: the music. Play the overworld theme from Super Mario Bros. with nearly anyone on the street, and they will instantly recognise what it is and the series it originated from. Super Mario All-Stars has this track in its remade form, but that will never live up to the amount of inner bliss and pure nostalgia you get from hearing the original theme on the Nintendo Entertainment System. This could also be said for the other three games, especially Super Mario Bros. 3, which doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessor regarding its soundtrack but is still iconic nonetheless. Whenever we think of a happy memory or moment in our lives, music is near the top of the list of what we recall first, so I can definitively say that Super Mario All-Stars was not a faithful remake due to the new remixes.
But that’s the thing about remakes: it all depends on how you feel about them. For me personally, I love both of these versions equally, and you can’t go wrong with either one of them. If you play the original games first, you will still have a great time, and the same goes for Super Mario All-Stars. If there is one thing we can learn from all of this, it’s that remasters, remakes, and ports are never a bad thing, and if they manage to introduce someone to a new series they grow to love, we should never complain about that. If a game is a classic, it will always be considered one until the end of time, and Mario All-Stars definitely falls into that category. Here’s to 30 years of some of the best 2D platforming in the history of videogames!
What do you think? Do you loathe the 8-bit look of the old games, or are you more of a purist and prefer to keep it old school? Feel free to let me know down in the comments section.