Super Mario Bros. 35 (Review)

Put Your Mario Skills To The Test

Ever since I first laid my eyes upon the original Super Mario Bros., I was hooked. I have played and replayed that game more times than I can count, setting my own personal speed run records and continually trying to break them as I get older. It is a game that is unique to me in that I basically know it backwards-and-forwards, and feel confident that every time I pick up the controller to play, it will still be just as fun and challenging as it was when I was a kid.

Releasing on October 1st on the Nintendo Switch as part of the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario franchise, Super Mario Bros. 35 is EXACTLY the type of experience I have been waiting for all of my life. Following on the foundation laid by the battle royale-style Tetris 99, Super Mario Bros. 35 pits you against 34 other players who are all simultaneously playing a series of levels from the original Super Mario Bros. on NES.

This on its own sounds fun enough, but that’s not all! Not only are you basically trying to speedrun these levels, but you are also trying to defeat enemies to gather more time for yourself while also sending ghosts of the defeated enemies to other players’ levels. This level of competition between you and these other players makes every single action you take meaningful in the game. Do you stomp on a series of enemies to gain more time or do you try to save time by skipping over them to get to the next level? Which type of player do you choose to target with your ghosts in hopes that you might trip them up?

Every choice is strategic because it affects everybody, yourself included. The slightest mistake you make will kill you, and in this game, there are no extra lives. Once you die, that’s it, and you are finished with that round and are waiting to start the next. Thankfully, the amount of points you obtain from that round helps your profile to level up continually, so no round is truly wasted (unless you die to that single Goomba at the beginning, in which case you’re going to have to “git gud,” as the internet kids say).

Leveling up allows you to unlock new courses and gives you access to new icons for your profile. The new series of stages helps you practice through new levels, which will inevitably contribute to helping you hone your reflexes and platforming skills. The special challenges that you get each day help to focus your attention on gathering the most points by what you do in each round, which will also slightly tweak how you approach each game.

The main downside for me was the fact that some of these rounds can feel like they last forever, especially if you are matched up against particularly good Mario players. It makes sense that there would be a lot of good players online, too, since many of us have had 30+ years to sharpen our skills and muscle memory. Even still, it can get a little tedious when you reach the 8-10 minute mark and you are STILL neck-and-neck with one or two other people, just waiting for them to make a fatal mistake while not breaking your own concentration. The other (potential) downside is the fact that this game is slated to only be active until March 31st, 2021; until then, nobody is really sure what Nintendo is going to do with this title. Will it be delisted from the eShop? Will they release a physical edition like they did with Tetris 99? Nobody really knows, and that anticipation puts a bit of a damper on the overall experience because of how limited it sounds.

In my humble opinion, Super Mario Bros. 35 really should be the standout title among the 35th anniversary celebrations. It takes the original levels and uses them so well, stitching them together to make a frenetic battle royale experience that celebrates what you already know about the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES while giving you more goals to strive for. I can see this game being a big hit among the speedrunning community, to be sure, but also to give younger fans a chance to experience some of the excitement that us older gamers experienced when we were younger and trying to beat our friends’ scores and times. It is truly a love letter to the fans that have stuck with Nintendo after so many years, and I look forward with hope to see what else they might have up their sleeves for this game.

Have you played Super Mario Bros 35.? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.