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Nintendo typically doesn't indulge in "special editions" or reverent collections of its aging franchises, so the very fact we're getting a 25th Anniversary edition of Super Mario All-Stars is something to note. Granted, it's the exact same game that shipped on the Super NES way back in 1993, but now it comes bundled with a nifty red box, art book and a 20-track CD full of classic songs and iconic sound effects.
Above: Well worth the meager price of $30
As previously mentioned, Nintendo rarely acknowledges its various milestones with limited edition bundles (in the US, at least), so this particular collection is pretty special. The art book, for example, contains original sketches from Miyamoto that outline how the first SMB would work, and there are even shots of World 1-2 drawn on graph paper. Maybe that means nothing to you, but for Nintendo nerds and the Mario faithful, that alone is worth $30.
The CD is another Nintendo anomaly, as outside of Japan, physical game albums don't regularly see the light of day. Nintendo of America is also not keen on making its back catalog of timeless VGM available to us, so obtaining legit, sanctioned releases of classic Mario tunes is another boon for big time collectors. According to the documentation, this CD is actually the first official release of the 25-year-old Super Mario Bros "Ground Theme," which is a pretty good indicator of how little Nintendo mines its history. Sure it re-releases games all the time, but does Nintendo celebrate them with referential materials and behind the scenes goodies? Not usually, and that's why these small tokens are such a big deal. Even the letter that came with the review copy of the game was crafted with misty-eyed reverence and old-school charm:
Above: The soundtrack CD, which contains songs from Bros 1, 2 and 3, plus 64, Sunshine and Galaxy
As a die-hard Nintendo fan, I am deeply appreciative of the set. But considering how far other companies are willing to go (Call of Duty, Halo, Assassin's Creed, GTA IV and so on), I'm a little let down that Nintendo didn't follow suit with a statue, diorama or other equivalent piece of bad assery. Certainly not complaining, and it's a nice gesture, but this is a case where Nintendo has more to work with than any other game company and with that in mind, as well as the series in question, it's unfortunate there wasn't more.
Oh right, the games! Next page for that.
When you consider the entire package, $30 is more than fair. But the Super Mario All-Stars game itself? Not necessarily worth that much. The Wii version is a straight-up port of the SNES game, right down to the "Copyright Nintendo 1993" text along the bottom of the screen. Honestly it comes off as a bit lazy - you couldn't do anything to these games for a 25th anniversary?
Furthermore, why only four games on the disc when you could fit every 2D Mario game (or you know, every NES/SNES game period) on one DVD? I get that the anniversary is for Super Mario Bros and the NES, but Nintendo actually produced a version of All-Stars that included Super Mario World as well - would it have killed 'em to toss that in as well?
Above: C'mon guys, it's only like 8 extra megs of information
However, none of these nitpicks change the quality of the included games, or the intended purpose of the entire collection. You're still getting inarguable classics that defined not just platformers, but also the '80s games industry and millions of childhoods around the world. Think about that - you, me, everyone reading this article, thousands more on Xbox Live right now... we've all played these games to death, and that's forever a common ground among us all. Truthfully, the majority of games journalists are writing today because of these games, and you could even argue they're the reason the games industry is here at all. That's up for debate, but the point is these games are immortal, even if they're kinda-sorta not as fun as they once were.
Above: The All-Stars versions feature enhanced graphics, upgraded sound and the ability to save your progress... but we actually prefer the old versions because we're old mummies who hate new things
Above: But for the most part, the games are just like their 8-bit counterparts
The SNES version isn't available on the Virtual Console, but if it were, it would technically only cost 800 points (eight bucks). Or you could buy the individual games on the collection, which would still only total to $21, so if you're looking at this as $30 for four NES games, you're going to feel ripped off. But when you consider the whole package, what it means and the history it represents, this is definitely worth the cash. Plus it's a LIMITED EDITION (ITION...ITION...ITION) so you should get on it before Nintendo yanks it away.