"Attack of the clones?" Yeah, I know most video game reviewers have started their reviews with that line, despite the pun being worn out already. However, this 'clone' game deserves some attention, in case fellow video gamers haven't taken a look.
Granted, this marks as the very first 'digital only' review of any medium whatsoever—books, movies, TV shows or video games. Nevertheless, this game includes a harrowing story behind it.
This game was developed by Mike Wiering in 1994, using the Turbo Pascal programming language. His attempt was to use the Mario platforming theme as a game test, for his own projects and for his computer (much like musicians producing cover songs before their creative juices take over, going on to produce their own soundtracks). Well, it just so happens that the beta version he posted was snatched up by someone who ended up making his own twists to the software, printing it on floppy/CD, and reselling it as a shareware game! Being a creator myself, there's nothing worse than witnessing someone taking your idea and claiming it as their own. It's a horrible feeling, and we can only imagine how many lawsuits Hollywood has faced with allegedly stealing ideas for a TV series and film (no wonder why there are so many laws, rules and regulations protecting artists, especially musicians).
Personally speaking, I felt that this downfall was saving grace for the developer—avoiding copyright strikes from Nintendo, had the release legitimized among computer gamers. Even though Nintendo allegedly stole the idea of outputting Game Boy games to TV with their Super Game Boy, apparently from a "TV-out" device released by Watara for their handheld, the Supervision, reviewed here, it'd be a fine thing not to retaliate, counter sue and pinpoint their minor hypocrisies and escalating the drama to the mainstream. Things happen for a reason, whether we know it or not, and you just never know nowadays. If the tables were to be turned, who knows if perhaps Nintendo would've hired Wiering to produce a complete series to attract more video gamers to play on computer. Either way, it was best to have kept it under the rug, despite the leak.
The shareware version, which we're thankful not to have shopped for and purchased, only featured four levels along with a few hacks here and there. This game we played and completed contains all six levels. Better yet, Wiering released a patch to have the game run perfectly with a joystick/controller—a recommended choice when playing this game.
What a story! We still appreciate the release of the game, Mike. Hoping this garners a chunk of attention to other fellow computer gamers, and a lesson to other fellow video game programmers.
Video gamers should feel at home with the beautiful pixel art featured on this game. On the title screen, when you choose OPTIONS, there isn't a choice to turn on nor turn off the music since there are no soundtracks, but there is an option for sound effects. We recommend leaving that on. You also have the option to show the stats and score during your gameplay. To go back to the main menu, you press ESC on your keyboard. When you finally choose the START option, you're greeted with NO SAVE, GAME SELECT and ERASE. This may confuse a few, but the NO SAVE option enables you to play without wanting to save; The GAME SELECT gives you a three-file save feature like the one featured on Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo! This is great when you want to continue where you left off, despite the game being short. Lastly, the ERASE option gives you the choice to erase any previously saved files. Choosing GAME SELECT shows you three empty slots; Choose any one and you have the option to play one or two players. Let the game begin!
The moment you start, it's important to remind yourself that this isn't a DOS port of any Mario games we're all familiar with and can complete with our eyes closed. This is a clone, so it features a completely new and different layout with its own challenges along the way. The enemies featured here are similar to the ones on Super Mario Bros. 3 from Super Mario All-Stars, so again, it should be familiar to you. The pirahna plants, however, were designed differently but was animated and drawn nicely.
Six levels of increasing difficulty all throughout, as the last level should challenge you a bit. Some parts feel like they were designed for speed-runners. However, it's doable and nothing should be too much of a factor. At the end of the area, you see a huge "THE END" text written with all coins. Reminds us of the text "YOU ARE A SUPER PLAYER !!" from Super Mario World on the last level of Special World. There are no boss fights and no cut scenes; This is all pure gameplay through all six levels.
The controls can be a little stiff but you get used to it, as it can work in your favor when making precise jumps and landings. After you beat the game, you can play it again, but the controls are a little more loose and fast. (If you haven't noticed by now, Mario can't duck in this game.) That's right: In the second run of this game, the enemies run amok and Mario jumps astounding higher than before, and moves faster than before, so precision and slight taps of the keys/D-pad is crucial. After that, the game ends in the same way and loops back again.
While credits, a small cut scene and perhaps a final boss would be highly suggested, this wasn't as bad as people say. The levels themselves present a decent amount of difficulty but nothing that will enable you to use some sort of cheat (a decision that we, unfortunately, made with Game Boy game Solar Striker). You should be able to breeze through the entire game in less than an hour.
As much as I'd like to see this game converted into an app that's available to play on mobile devices like Android, iOS and others, again, it's to dodge the javelins that Nintendo may summon if this game surfaces. Being a "so-so" programmer myself, this game isn't fully complete and perfect, but I feel it's a job well done.
Mario fans of all kinds, check this out! Great work, Mr. Wiering, and thank you!
|Game Title||Mario & Luigi|
|Video Format||???? (320x191)|
|Format||Digital (Windows/DOS .exe file)|
|File Size||57 KB|
|Genre||Action / Platformer|
|Game Release||2001 (beta version released in 1994)|
|Other Formats||Floppy disk, CD-ROM|
|Other||The beta version, featuring only four levels instead of six, was downloaded, modified and hacked, and sold by Chaos Software, re-titled as Mario!!! licensed under Shareware (apparently leaked and credited to programmer Adam Howard, according to the game's in-software documents). The hacked game was sold originally at a computer fair in the late nineties. Developer Mike Wiering released the full game on his website, full with joystick patch and original source code.
Sources have mentioned that PGA pro golfer Tiger Woods was seen playing this game during an interview.