Saturday, 1 May 2010

Your memories are in another castle - Super Mario Bros. Crossover Review

You'd have to travel a long way to find someone who doesn't loves crossovers, especially in the nerd community, if Spider-Man can't handle a job its time to call Wolverine damnit! The more cynical among you might see crossovers as a quick cash in attempts to revitalise ailing franchises or to introduce people to another character to spend their hard earned cash on. While there is some truth to this element of greed theory (Bobby Kotick / Steve Jobs crossover, anyone?) the biggest problem with the world of cross promotion is that a lot of brands have to be kept separate due to legal issues or over protective creators. This mainstream separation means that cross band exchanges are usually the sole reserve of fan-fiction, and as I have mentioned before this can cheapen the existing brands, as well as making for some extremely disturbing reading (Bobby Kotick/ Steve Jobs, anyone?). Luckily Exploding Rabbit have come to the rescue with the ultimate in fan service, and the best part about it? Everyone keeps their pants on! It's win-win.

Super Mario Bros. Crossover is a flash game developed by one man who has created possibly the most fun thing you'll have on your browser today (and we've seen your browsing history so we KNOW you've been having fun). As the name suggests at the core of SMBC lies one of the greatest platformers of all time, its a game that many gamers will have played at least once, and to the majority of them completing World 1-1 comes as naturally as breathing. The twist SMBC adds is the introduction of characters from other NES classics, all of which (except Link) handle exactly as their original counter-parts did. The concept is simple, but as is often the case with good ideas it is simplicity which makes the game so much fun. Obviously choosing Mario is the least engaging option, and for most veteran gamers will serve as little more than a referral as to how differently he controlled from the other games featured here, however, never underestimate the insta-please that the nostalgia of playing as Mario can summon. Personally I am a Mega Man fan so I jumped right in as the blue bomber, it was a surreal experience, everything from both franchises was perfectly in tact, but when they were combined it may as well have been a whole new game.

Gameplay strategy has to change with each character, there's no room for closed eyed speed runs here, Mega Man for example feels quite sluggish when dropped into the faster paced world of Mario, and some readjustment to timing and the way you approach the game will be required for even the most seasoned players. Simon of Castlevania fame has the ability to double jump which can be his biggest strength a weakness, he is unable to cross many of the games pits in a single leap, yet its easy to forget he can get an additional boost as the concept of double jumping can feel unnatural in this early Mario universe. These changes make the game quite challenging, Samaus especially exemplifies this as the hight of her sprite means that her shots sail over the heads of most enemies, and it's easy to accidentally curl into ball mode just in time to be hit by one of Bowser's fireballs, although to be fair Metroid is probably the game I've played least out of the characters available here so the problem may lay solely in my incompetent hands, and yet I never felt frustrated to the point I didn't want to continue playing. Don't let all this talk of strategy and dinosaur based immolation distract from the most important aspect of SMBC; this game is insanely fun. My hat goes off to the creator Jay Pavlina whose inspired idea is without a doubt the best fan project I have ever played. This is also Exploding Rabbit's first game, something that is extremely exciting given the high quality, fantastic concept, and sheer amount of enjoyment this game represents.

S&N was built on the ideology that by being passionate about the things we love we may inspire others to get involved in creative arts. Maybe that is why I have so much love for Super Mario Bros. Crossover, it is clearly a work of love, a finely tuned homage to a gaming era that may have been surpassed by technology, but is still alive in the hearts of the people whose lives it influenced. Hopefully SMBC will inspire not only the generation who grew up with these games, but also younger generations to think a little more abstractly and creatively about what gaming is, and how that with a little work they too can produce something truly amazing. I cannot recommend this game enough.

You can play the game here:


Jay Pavlina said...

This is Jay, the creator of the game. Really nice article. I also hope that people are inspired to do cool things after playing it.

Anonymous said...

I wonder... will this game become one of the many fan-made games removed by Nintendo? I mean, I love the game, no question, but it seems like a bunch of copyright infringement to me...

alexrgame said...

Great Game, i've been playing for a while on in Super Mario Online, Contra and Megaman, but this is something great, my friday was wasted playing this game

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