Should You Buy the Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition?

Mario All-Stars

Let's start with the answer: No, you really shouldn't buy the Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Limited Edition for Wii. Unless you've never played the first four Mario games. Or you're a completist. Or you like shiny $30 novelty packages. Or you're a Nintendo charity case.

That's because the just-released Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary bundle is in fact a reissue of a game that's nearly two decades old, which was, even then, a reissue of four games older still.

I'm talking about 1993's Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which included Super Mario Bros. (1985), Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (1986), Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988), and Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988).

The dolled up red-and-gold Wii version is simply that 1993 SNES game resurrected.

Resurrected like a zombie corpse, that is, with nothing altered, annotated, or even modestly improved. It's just the Super Nintendo cartridge forklifted onto a DVD. Never mind the games it contains have long been available from Nintendo's downloadable games service, or that for all their one-time platform brilliance, they look shabbier than ever on a flatscreen TV.

But wait, you also get a history book and a music CD!

The 32-page book turns out to be slim and unmemorable, with a handful of quotes and design notes and history graphs. It's missing all the important things fans care about, like extended interviews, developer anecdotes, insight into the design process, and, you know, any palpable sense of wonder about this one time wonder-inspiring series. It's about what I'd expect from a cursory press review kit. As a 'limited edition' keepsake, it's a letdown.

The music CD might be of interest to sound designers without an internet connection or knowledge of Google, but it's nothing you'd pop in for extended play. You get a handful of tunes from the series (through Mario Galaxy 2) and a few sound effects. You might kill half an hour rolling through the tracks once for fun, then never again. It's too bad. We're talking about some of the most recognized music in the world. Imagine what might have been with notes or translated commentary about the composition process. Instead we get a glorified demo reel.

Here's an idea: It costs 2100 points to download all four games from the Nintendo Channel [UPDATE: They have the original version graphics, not the modestly updated SNES version's changes, but then that's a plus in my book (the idea's to play them as they were, in their original form)]. That's $21, or $9 less than the limited edition. You can then use what you saved to snag a copy of Super Mario World (800 points, or $8) from the online store, a game that's glaringly absent from the limited edition, and arguably the best Mario game Nintendo made.

Happy 25th anniversary Mario. You're still a rock star. Sorry about the dismally recycled fanfare. Let's just hope Nintendo gets you something a little more dignified for your big three-oh.

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