Some games - it's like how do you even talk about them? Some games are just ubiquitous with the whole concept of 'gaming.' I mean, is there a more iconic cartridge than that classic pack-in Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt?
If I were to make a big list of my own personal favorite NES games, I don't know if SMB would even crack the top 50. Heck, it's possible that if I really put my mind to it, it wouldn't even make it to the top 100. Super Mario 2 and 3 would both be there for sure. But the first one? I mean, there's a LOT of NES games out there. Which is not to say that SMB is a bad game. It's a great game. I'm more talking about how vast and solid the NES library is.
On the other hand, Super Mario Bros is easily one of the most important NES games for me. In a way, it's one of the most important games for me period. See, this was the game that introduced me to the NES. At the time I had a Commodore 64 at home - and only had edutainment titles for it. I also had a second-hand Atari 2600, which I enjoyed but the games were fairly simple.
When me and my siblings went to a babysitter one summer in 1987 everything changed. Her kids had just gotten a NES and they were playing Super Mario Bros one morning. My mind was promptly blown. I instantly went from a kid who thought video games were neat, to being a bonafide fan. I remember calling my dad that day to ask him if I could get a NES. (He initially said 'no' by the way. But I was persistent.)
To call SMB "iconic" would be a huge understatement. Just close your eyes and think about that game. You can hear the music, right? You probably have world 1-1 burned into your memory.
Lord knows I've played this game a lot over the years since. The original NES game, the All-Stars remake on SNES, the Deluxe remake on GBC, even the fascinating Super Luigi Bros on Wii U. And it gets to a point where you've played something so much that you're pretty much unsure what to even say about it.
Over the weekend I fired up the game on the Switch Online app. It's obviously just the original vanilla release, but with save states. And I'll be honest, I used them. I think of them as save points at the start of each new level. And it turns out that if you're okay with being a cheater like this (I am) then you can coast through the game pretty handily without ever losing that first fireball powerup from world 1-1.
But what struck me is how solid this game still is. I mean, this 1985 game that completely defined platformers... it's still so good. It's been improved upon in every way since. But it's still really great. The level layout, the controls, the way those later castles have little puzzles in which routes you take. All excellent.
Maybe this wouldn't be in my top 100 NES games. But even if it's not, it's impressive to think that #101 would be this good.