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What Went Wrong? Super Mario Bros

Gordon Lipton



Reviewing a bad movie that could’ve been better

Super Mario Bros movie image
Hollywood Pictures

I’m looking at the Super Mario Bros movie (1993), why was it so bad and what went wrong. I know this not is a controversial hot take from us, but video game movies often get something of a bad rap in the movie business. If there are any movies based on video games that are considered good, I can’t think of any. The original Mortal Kombat was probably the best of the bunch, but that might have been because it was…less terrible than other movies like it.

But, there are some that stand out as truly miserable, disappointing, and just…really not good. One of the most prominent examples of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad movie is 1993’s Super Mario Bros. Based on the wildly popular video game series from Nintendo. Why? Well, let’s look at it closer…

Why It Was Terrible
I mean…how much time do you have?

The first issue with the movie is that it was in no way faithful at all to the original Nintendo games.

Let’s not forget, the Super Mario Bros game series was based on the concept of two colour-coordinated plumbers. Mario Mario and Luigi Mario…one of the only legitimately funny scenes in the movie. And their kinda-sorta dinosaur pet/friend named Yoshi. Yoshi was known to fly and shoot fireballs. They all jumped up and down on turtles and headbutted question mark-signed blocks to get coins and ate mushrooms that you made you get bigger. All to save Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser/King Koopa. He was a dinosaur turtle villain who was always keeping the princess in another castle.

You have to admit, this is a bonkers concept. The mushroom-eating suddenly makes a wee bit more sense now, reading that all over. But it got over like rover with generations of video gamers. In fact, it was one of the first truly universally-beloved video game franchises. Mario was as responsible for starting the rise of video games as anything ever was.

So, when making a movie out of this, all the creative team had to do was…not take this ludicrous-yet-beloved concept and drive it off a cliff. But boy, did they ever drive it off a cliff.

Instead of taking this colourful, whimsical story and making a colourful, whimsical movie. In part due to costs, the creators of the Super Mario Bros. movie turned it into a dark, steampunk-inspired dreary hellscape. But instead fully committing to the idea of a steampunk-inspired dreary hellscape. They instead they combined that with colour-coordinated plumbers. Plus, their dinosaur friend, and a dash of fungi and mushrooms. So basically it ended up as “Blade Runner, but really bad.”

Not only that, but it also had a ridiculously talented cast. It included award-winning actor Bob Hoskins (who almost died many times during filming, nearly drowning, electrocution and stabbing, but that’s all another story). John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper (also an award-winning actor and someone who probably knows a thing or two about eating mushrooms). It was just a mess all around…seriously, how did Cinergi Pictures get this off the ground?

How Could It Have Been Improved?

There are so many things they could have done better, but in my opinion, the biggest thing they could’ve done was commit to their vision and just gone with it.

Yes, taking a hilariously over-the-top video game like Super Mario Bros and turning it into a steampunk thriller may have been weird. But it’s not without precedent. Sometimes, you take a book/game/comic and fundamentally change a lot of things about it. But you really work hard to make it good and commit to the vision. It can be an enlightening and engaging new take on the work and can turn it into a classic (here’s looking at you, The Dark Knight).

But Super Mario Bros. never fully decided if it wanted to be goofy like the game or gritty and dark like…they sort of tried to do in the movie.

If they wanted to really make a dark, neo-noir movie that fundamentally changed much of the story but went all out, I think this could’ve been a good movie. Maybe not the movie Nintendo would’ve wanted based on the source material, but it would’ve been interesting and watchable.

In fact, the directors originally wanted the movie to be R-rated in the US. They wanted to include a lot of sex and violence. It wouldn’t have fit the Super Mario Bros mould, per se, but it would have been an interesting and original take that might have worked.

But sadly, they didn’t…they tried to do way too much and failed at doing all of it.

Rethinking Super Mario Bros

So who would star in it today and could it be a revived franchise? Sonic has been on the big screen recently, so why not Mario?

If they were to redo the movie today, there would actually be some potential. Even though Super Mario Bros hasn’t really been a relevant franchise in a while if you think about it.

The first thing would be to determine whether they wanted to play it like the original games. Think over-the-top, cheesy, but entertaining. Or go in a different direction like The Dark Knight or even like the original Super Mario Bros movie might have been trying to do.

Honestly, I think the best bet would be to steer closer to the original games. To keep a sense of whimsy. CGI and special effects have improved drastically since 1993. It would be easier to include a lot of the more fantastical elements from the original series. And potentially get a long-running franchise out of the film (the princess could be in a different castle to end each instalment!) – not to mention that it could renew interest in the Mario franchise in a new generation of fans.

As far as casting? Personally I feel like there would be a lot of potential in casting someone like Seth Rogen in the role Mario. He has proven that he can be really funny but can also play it straight when needed (i.e. Observe and Report), plus he looks a bit like Mario. Luigi would be a good role for someone like Andy Samberg perhaps, for similar reasons to Rogen.

Bowser could be a good role for someone with serious, dramatic acting chops but also someone who could go funny when needed. Someone like a Jason Isaacs, or even a Gary Oldman (even though Oldman is a bit old for the role).

Nintendo hasn’t given the rights to anyone to make a new movie since 1993, but could Mario be ready to bounce back?

In Summary

Super Mario Bros was indeed one of the biggest bombs in a category (video game movie adaptations) that has featured countless bombs. But if it were to be rebooted today, and stay more faithful to the original video games. It could at least make money in the realm of mindless entertainment, and could likely form a franchise.

Thanks for reading our review of Super Mario Bros (1993). Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.

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Read IMDB information on Super Mario Bros HERE.

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Gaming News

Animal Crossing vs. Stardew Valley

Victoria Newell



Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley image
Nintendo & ConcernedApe

In the world of video game escapism, there are generally two options. Become a hero, mowing down enemies and saving the world…or engage in fun, relaxing physical labour. Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing are both games that focus on building a community and town. While both of these games have similar goals and objectives, they definitely have their own pros and cons. So to which escapist town should you retire? We’re looking at Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley.

Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing hit the world hard in the early weeks of the pandemic. The most recent iteration of the game; Animal Crossing; New Horizons released for the Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020. But the game itself has been around since April 14, 2001, starting its journey on the GameCube.

You play as the Villager, who moves to a new town and takes out a housing loan from the infamous Tom Nook. To pay off your debt, you can sell fish, fruit, bugs, or fossils; donating those same items to Blathers’ museum. Once you’ve paid off your debt to Tom Nook, he graciously expands your house and grants you a new loan. It’s a classic tale of capitalism.

There’s plenty of stuff you can do in addition to working on your housing debt as well. You can design the interior of your house, collect rare items, work on completing the museum, and meet your neighbours. The other townsfolk are a collection of cute animals who will move in and out of the Village. You can celebrate holidays, birthdays, and special events, exploring the Village and the animals who live in it.

Now New Horizons takes the classic Animal Crossing formula and adds a little twist to it. Instead of living in the typical Village, you arrive at an uninhabited island. Tom Nook, alongside his nephews, Timmy and Tommy, have bought an island and are offering you and three other townsfolk a new life on a brand new island. Besides to paying off your housing debt and decorating your house, you can also decorate the entire island and make decisions about its layout. This is the most autonomy the player has had over the layout and look of their village, as well as the townsfolk who reside there.

Animal Crossing is a peaceful experience with pleasing graphics and music. It’s a classic game; with the Villager and staple Animal Crossing characters like Isabel being playable Smash characters. It has been an established and loved game for over twenty years.

But Animal Crossing, specifically New Horizons, is not without its flaws. The game moves in real-time, and while you can cheat and time jump, it can definitely become monotonous. New Horizons is also lacking in events. The game has decided to release new features in free updates as time goes on. For example, the ability to swim and dive was added to the June 22nd update, four months after the game’s release. New holidays, furniture, and characters also prop up in updates. New Horizons also has a crafting feature, and while it adds a new element to the game, it makes it significantly harder to get the furniture and design pieces the player desires. The townsfolk also have limited dialogue options, and interacting with them can become boring.

In an effort to make New Horizons feel new every few months, it comes across as feeling incomplete. It is easy to feel as though you’re doing chores, rather than playing a game.

Stardew Valley

Similar to Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley is also a game about building up a village and home. Both games are designed for peaceful escapism to a quiet town. But Stardew Valley absolutely has its differences from Animal Crossing. It’s a much newer game, coming out February 26, 2016, and is playable on several consoles; PC, Playstation, Xbox, Switch, iOS, and Android.

You play as the Farmer, moving to your deceased grandfather’s farm to escape the monotony of life in the big city. You earn money by selling your crops, fishing and mining. Stardew Valley also has a pretty large crafting feature; like Animal Crossing.

But where the character interactions in Animal Crossing or meant to be cute or humorous with very little long-term consequences, your relationship with the other residents in Stardew Valley are a massive part of the game. You can even marry another character and have children with them. Once you reach certain relationship levels with them, you may receive a cut scene giving you more insight as to who they are. These cutscenes reveal an intricate and interesting larger story taking place in the valley.

There is also a combat feature because as you mine, you encounter monsters. Some cute 8-bit creatures to get your heart racing. There are mysteries to unlock throughout the valley as well. Supernatural elements abound through sightings of mermaids, woodland creatures, and the cooky Wizard.

Stardew Valley has seasonal events as well. They are cute and low-stakes events where you can get to know the other residents of the Valley and enjoy each other’s company. There are larger events as well, progressing the longer you live in the Valley, that have long-term implications for the community.

Simply put; Stardew Valley has significantly more to do than Animal Crossing and a much more elaborate plotline. But where Stardew Valley is more intricate than Animal Crossing, it is also more complicated. There is a lot to keep up with, and sometimes it feels as though there are not enough virtual hours in a day to get done all the Farmer needs to do. Time in Stardew Valley moves fast, with each hour passing by in increments of ten minutes, seven seconds in real life between them. If your Farmer is awake past 2am they will pass out, so you have to be in bed at a reasonable time.

Even though Animal Crossing can become boring in its simplicity, Stardew Valley becomes almost overwhelming. Do you focus on the Farmer’s love life? Turning a fast crop profit? Upgrading your house? Exploring the mine? Because there is definitely not enough time in the Stardew Valley day to do it all.

Furthermore, to the graphics snob, it should be noted that Stardew Valley is an 8-bit game. But the game design is beautiful, and the music is cute and relaxing.

The Village or the Valley?

In the question of Animal Crossing vs. Stardew Valley, the answer comes down to one thing. Do you want to do simple tasks to take your mind off the stresses of the day? Then your answer is Animal Crossing. Do you want to dive into an intricate world with nuanced stories, prepared to put some work into your farm? Stardew Valley is your game.

They both scratch the same itch. Simplistic escapism in the form of simple tasks and cute stories. The question is how you scratch that itch.

Thanks for reading our Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley article. Which side do you fall on? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

Read about seven Nintendo Switch games to get excited about HERE.

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