Saturday 27 February 2010

Mario Bros. II

Can't get this on Nintendo... home consoles...

It's a sequel to the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros., cleverly and uniquely titled "Mario Bros. II". Released by "Thundersoft" in 1987 on the Commodore 64, it's another entry to the ever growing collection of forgotten and potentially illegal Mario titles that nobody seems know nor care about. It's actually the third Mario Bros. game for the Commodore 64 - the original game turned up twice in 1984 by Atari and 1987 by Ocean respectively. I have no idea who "The Riffs" are because as per usual, there's very little information about this title on the internet. TIME FOR THAT TO CHANGE.

Recognise this? If you do, give yourself a pat on the back for knowing your Nintendo history. This is actually the Game & Watch version of Mario Bros. brought to the TV screen - a feat that would not be repeated until the Game Boy Colour game, Game & Watch Gallery 3 (and its sequel) turned up a decade later (and that obviously assumes you have a Super Game Boy SNES adapter or whatever). Mario (in his old blue outfit) and Luigi have decided to quit their jobs as well trained plumbers to focus on hard manual labour in an inefficient "bottle" making factory. But if you've watched a certain 1940s Donald Duck cartoon you're free to imagine the Mario Bros. are being forced to attach the tips on shotgun shells while being watched by Nazis. The graphics aren't brilliant.

As you can imagine due to its Game & Watch origins, gameplay is far simpler than in their previous outings. Mario and Luigi, each controlled by a different joystick or keyset, may only move up and down ladders, and similar to the Manhole and Fire Game & Watch games, find themselves having to block gaps to stop things from falling on a pointlessly elaborate conveyor belt system. If something drops, a man that I assume is called "Chef" comes out to shout at the brother who messed up. As the brothers have heart conditions, this noise and shock causes them to die, and once all three lives are lost, game's over.

Though you've likely never played this game, you're not missing much, and you could even argue the graphics are superior on the old Game & Watch portables. There's a bit of calibration involved in getting two joysticks to work comfortably but at least it works (which can't always be said of early ports of the original Mario Bros. game). I can't recommend it, but it's good to know it exists.

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