I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw the post on Kotaku over the weekend which mentioned that a port of Super Mario Bros was now available on the Commodore 64. Back in the day when SMB fever was kicking off a clone of the game for the C64 was released (The Great Giana Sisters) that while being a great game in its own right it would quickly suffer Nintendo’s wrath due to its obvious similarities. That pretty much spelled the end of it officially and the NES’ own success meant we were never going to see a port of SMB on other systems. But now thirty years later we have a brilliant version of the game (see details here) that’s seven years in the making and astonishingly good at replicating the original NES version.
I’m certainly no expert in the finer details but it looks, sounds and plays enough like it that developer ZeroPaige deserves some serious respect and kudos. I was able to get it running on my own C64 via an SD2IEC drive with no issues whatsoever and I’m really impressed with the polish given even to load screens and menus – it shows how much of a labour of love this must have been. Though the hardware between the two systems was relatively close the NES is faster and able to display more colours so seeing how close the C64 is to it is pretty sweet. And the C64’s SID chip can still bang out a tune with the best of them. Controls map similarly to other C64 platformers with jump being up on the joystick but it’s still quite fluid and not noticeably different to what it is on the NES controller… overall it feels great.
If you have a C64 (or even an emulator) you really should check this out (link here again). Even now there’s a lot of great work done by developers on retro systems, the awesome Atari 8bit port of Stunt Car Racer is another that immediately springs to mind, so it’s great to see one of the best yet get mentioned in a high profile site such as Kotaku. Seeing there’s still a lot of life left in these old systems cheers me up immensely. 🙂