Ocean Software Ltd
1987
Arcade: Platform
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

28
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Sometimes I reckon the Japanese have funny brains. This is not a criticism. On the contrary it is a form of praise. What other nation could have invented the Endurance game show?

What other nation would have thought of the Sony Walkman?

What other nation creates such strange arcade games? Pacman was pretty weird but Mario Bros is weirder.

The coin-op game by Nintendo dates back quite a while yet has only now been converted to the Spectrum. Did I say weird? Check this out - the idea of the game is to jump up and down some bouncy platforms trying to knock over a passing turtles (known as shellcreepers on the box). Having up ended one or more turtles you have to kick them. This makes them go away... it'd make you go away too. I should think.

The only thing that gets in the way of you flipping the turtles is the fact that they kill you if you bump into them (terror turtles) and there are crabs and fireballs hurtling around the screen. In addition the turtles don't stay flipped for ever - if you don't get to them within a certain time they leap up again. As you can see Mario Bros is very environmentally sound...

There are a few things to help you. Best is a sort of super bounce - a 'POW' block that, once hit causes everything currently on screen (almost everything) to flip. The problem is you can only use it a few times before it gets crushed beyond redemption.

Gradually the turtles trundle to the bottom of the screen and thence return back up to the top again. This gives rise to the only sure technique I discovered for flipping turtles - if you stand on the highest level but one and wait for turtles to emerge from the top it is usually possible to get them before they drop down. I got through quite a few stages this way. Another technique is the timing of the POW button bounce. If you wait until the last possible moment, before jumping, ie when a turtle is about to reach you, you stand more chance of getting a lot of flipped turtles near you (thus giving you time to go and give them a good kicking).

Every few screens or so there's a bonus screen where Mario has to jump from level to level within a strict time limit collecting what look like gold pieces. This being a Japanese game - the country that brought you Endurance - however, they are probably chicken brains. Since I managed to collect the lot within the time limit and after a lot of utterly incompetent jumps I can only surmise it isn't difficult enough.

The game actually looks very naff - a real production-line Ocean conversion. It isn't a very difficult game to program yet all we get is the bare minimum - tolerable graphics, tolerable sound. To be fair, the original arcade game hardly broke any barriers, either.

The horrible truth though is that Mario Brothers is incredibly good fun, despite all whinging about its simplicity. OK I played it lots - the game idea is ultimately what matters and for some reason, flipping turtles is a winner.

Label: Ocean
Author: Jon Woods
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

*****

Knocking turtles over surprisingly makes for an astonishingly entertaining game. Workmanlike conversion though.

5/5