Review: Mario Bros. (Atari 7800)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we go all the way to the very beginning of the Mario franchise with Mario Bros. In this review, we check out the Atari 7800 port of this action game.

Many people point to the first NES game and say that Super Mario Bros was the first game in the franchise. Some people can easily forget that the first NES game is actually the second video game in the Mario franchise. The first was simply titled “Mario Bros”. It was originally released on the arcade, but today, we are reviewing the 1987 Atari 7800 port of this game.

This game has, perhaps, the most real world location out of the entire franchise. While most of the other iterations take place in the Mushroom Kingdom, this game takes place in the sewers beneath New York. You are tasked to go into the sewers and clear out all of the monsters that are causing problems.

The game, itself, is rather simple in nature. Each phase gets progressively harder. You take on the familiar green turtles in the beginning, but then gradually take on more difficult foes like the red crab, random fire balls, monsters that fly, and objects that freeze the ground. The only way to defeat the monsters is to knock them on their back (most often via hitting the platform from underneath) and then running up to them and kicking them off. If you clear out all of the monsters and defeat a sort of “boss” version of one of the monsters, you can then progress to the next phase.

Sometimes, you’ll be able to collect coins that randomly appear in the game as well. These coins, unlike many other versions of Super Mario Bros., merely add to your point total. Sometimes, you’ll get bonus phases where you have a limited amount of time collecting the sparsely located coins throughout the level.

If you’ve played other versions of Super Mario Bros, you’ll probably quickly find out that you can’t stomp on the monsters unless they are flipped on their back. This is what makes this game rather unique.

I found this game interesting to play. While the level configuration never changes, you will always have new challenges appearing out of the pipes along the top. You can choose to use the POW block which is the equivalent of striking everything on the level once, but once you use it up, that’s it. You’re on your own from that point on.

Graphically, while it was interesting for a game on it’s respective system, there was already the NES version of this game grabbing all of the attention on the NES just two years earlier. So, it’s merely passable.

This game also suffered from the same problem as found on the NES in the audio department. There was music at the beginning and a jingle between each phase along with sound effects to denote that you are moving about the playing field (amongst other things), but with the NES version floating around already, this game simply paled in comparison.

Overall, this game did provide challenges and was a fulfilling game. Unfortunately, there were far superior games around on the NES that made this game an average play at best. Worth playing for a few minutes, but that’s about it.


Furthest point in game: Phase 12.

General gameplay: 15/25
Replay value: 6/10
Graphics: 5/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 56%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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