Super Mario 35 review

The latest incarnation of Super Mario Bros. has been released on Nintendo Switch and this one pits you against others 34 other players in a Tetris 99 style battle to the last Mario standing. Released as part of Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary, Super Mario 35 is free, so if you’re a fan of our little Italian platforming plumber, now is a great time to jump in!

Super Mario 35 is a nice little twist on the regular Super Mario formula. The experience is pretty much the same, however, rather than just concentrating on your screen and not dying there, you have to worry about incoming enemies from the other players you have been matched against. This is classic Super Mario Bros. from the NES era, but with an extra layer of danger with random enemies coming your way.

To get your hands on Super Mario 35 you have to be a subscriber to Nintendo Switch Online, which well worth it when you consider the library of NES and SNES games as well as these exclusives. Super Mario 35 is very similar to Tetris 99 (if you haven’t played that, then you can also pick that one up on Nintendo Switch Online) in that you focus on your main game in the middle of the screen, but surrounding you are the screens of other players in the game. The objective is to get as far as possible without dying, or without the timer running out. Be the last Mario standing and you win the game.

This is how the game works – 35 players start off in a Super Mario Bros stage and all have 35 secs on the timer. When you defeat a Goomba (or any other enemy) you’ll add some more timer to the clock and you’ll send an enemy over to an opponents screen. You can see the enemies that have been sent your way as they appear similar to ghosts, or slightly faded out. You’ll want to keep your eye on the timer as that one caught me out more than once when I thought everything was going just fine – I’d randomly die because I simply had no time left.

One way I found of staying alive was to get the Fire Flower as soon as possible, as this meant speeding through levels became much easier and it helps with dealing with a random bunch of enemies at range. You can collect coins in the game and when you get 20 you get a random item – a Mushroom, Fire Flower, Star or POW block.

Super Mario 35 is a great reminder of how much fun the original Super Mario Bros can be. We’ve had a few iterations in recent years with Super Mario Maker 2 and Super Mario All-Stars on Nintendo Switch Online. Super Mario 35 takes the concept of Tetris 99 and transposes it well to this platformer. I think the idea is neat but I don’t know whether it’s quite as successful as the Tetris 99 formula. It’s an interesting take, but there’s a few drawbacks as well as the successes.

In the first few hours of gameplay, it can feel a little repetitive and difficult to make progress and you might feel like you’re doing the same levels over and over again before you unlock other levels. The familiar warp system seemed to take me round in circles rather than help me skip forward like I am used to. However, this frustration is short-lived and as you make your way to latter stages you can send more interesting enemies over to your opponents like Hammer Bros, Spinies and Bowser himself. There’s real satisfaction in sending over a stream on enemies if you hit a well-timed shell into a string of goombas.

One strange thing about the game is it’s time-limited nature. It’s due to go away on 31st March 2021, which seems slightly odd but this is true of Super Mario 3D Allstars too. Not sure what Nintendo is thinking with this one. Super Mario 35 is good fun, but it could do with iteration over time. A few tweaks here and there and it could be a fantastic game… it feels like a shame it’s going to go away. This is especially true when Nintendo are looking to add value to Nintendo Switch Online.

Super Mario 35 breaths new life into a decades-old game. Super Mario Bros has always been fun, and if you’ve never played the game then first of all, where have you been and second of all, if you have Nintendo Switch Online you should get this immediately. It’s a great addition to the celebrations for Mario’s 35 birthday. Given it’s going away in a few months time, I’d give it a try before it does… maybe if we give enough feedback to Nintendo it won’t go anywhere.

Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: 1st October 2020 – 31st March 2021

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