“A fangame that is overshadowed by a tool that comes packaged along with it.”
Super Mario Bros. X does not really know what it wants to be. While this fangame very clearly pays tribute to the Mario franchise, the sight of Metroid and Zelda graphics, along with odd gameplay mechanics that don’t seem to fit in a Mario game, one can’t help but wonder if the creators of this game lacked a little vision.
The default campaign that comes with Super Mario Bros. X is fairly clunky, but it should be able to hold your attention for a while. I found that, while the levels were somewhat enjoyable, they did not capture the old-school Mario feel at all and just seemed to want to pretend to be Contra or Metroid while wearing a Mario disguise. Make no mistake, almost everything that you probably grew to love from Mario 1, 2, 3, or World is probably here, but few elements seem to be used properly in the default campaign.
I found a few issues with the enemies in the game as well. As a huge Mario fan who has sunk dozens upon dozens of hours into Super Mario World, I was able to quickly realize that some enemies don’t behave as they should. For example, the thwomp (the square rock guys who try to squish you) drop too late and too quickly. In real Mario games, it was possible to pass by under them or even jump past them before they would hit you, but that is not the case here. In SMBX, thwomps drop pretty much when you are right beside them, and they drop slightly faster than they did in Mario World. A few other enemies behave oddly as well, such as Birdo or Hammer Brothers.
The controls are also a little stiffer than they are in a typical Mario game. Sometimes I had a few issues maneuvering Mario properly even on the most simple of platforms. I also find his acceleration into a run to be a little unusual. Something about it just feels incredibly off, but I can exactly place what it is that I don’t like about it. Mario’s acceleration just does not feel right.
If I were to review Mario Bros. X solely on the default campaign that comes with the game, I’d probably give the game about a 7/10, but there’s something that comes with this game that drives the score way up and pretty much renders the default campaign as an optional set of levels for you to plow through if you’re bored. So, what is the magical part of the package that overshadows the main game? Well, it happens to be a level editor.
The level editor is by and far the best point of Super Mario Bros. X. Users can create their own Mario levels using graphics and music from any of the first four Mario titles, as well as a few samples from Metroid and Zelda. I don’t agree with those two games having any kind of representation in a Mario fangame of this magnitude, and Link being a playable character makes my mind implode. As a very biased Mario fanboy of twenty years, it just doesn’t feel right to have Metroid themed levels in the Mushroom Kingdom, but it’s optional content so I can’t really condemn it.
I’ve made several Mario levels so far, and I have to say that I am very pleased by how robust Super Mario Bros. X’s editor really is. Recreating old Mario levels from any game is one hundred percent possible, as is forging brand new levels that combine graphics and enemies from any of the old Mario titles. It’s a great little tool for sure.
One other cool thing that this game has to offer, which I haven’t been able to try and likely never will due to various reasons, is the two player co-op mode. Rather than taking turns playing levels like in the old Mario games, in SMBX, the two players get to play the same levels together. Available characters are Mario, Luigi, Toad, Peach, and Link. There’s a good amount of variety there, and I’m sure that anyone who is able to take advantage of the two player mode will really enjoy it, as it seems well made judging from what I’ve seen on YouTube.
Overall, SMBX is a passably decent game if you ignore the level editor, though the character variety and co-op mode should make the game closer to being fairly good. However, if you are a fan of level making and such, then expect to have a lot of fun with this game.