VS Super Mario Bros. Review (NES)

Retrozone strikes again in a Super way

Only just a few weeks ago, Retrozone released VS Super Mario Bros. for sale for the first time ever, converted over from the Play-Choice 10 arcade structure to the hardware found in the home consumer Nintendo Entertainment System.

Effectively the world’s first SMB ROM hack, VS Super Mario Bros. is a peice of Nintendo history that can finally be brought to the NES and experienced by thousands of gamers who long for the days where they might be able to find this cabinet in their local arcade.

With the release, the questions mount: What is this game? Is it any good? Is it worth the price? When are you going to get around to video reviews!? Read on for almost all of the answers!


Due to being a negligent Italian plumber who loves mushrooms a little too much, the Mushroom Princess and seven of her Toad aids have been kidnapped by a reptile named Koopa in charge of an army of mushrooms and turtles. Now our hero Mario (or his brother Luigi) must traverse 32 levels in search of the missing princess.


VS Super Mario Bros. looks exactly like the NES version of Super Mario Bros. The conversion from the arcade’s RGB color pallet to the NES’s pallet seems to have toned down the red hues. Mario seems much darker now, but other than that, the game looks identical to the regular SMB.


Classic stuff. VS Super Mario Bros. also shares all it’s audio with the original NES version, so expect all of Koji Kondo’s legendary work well represented here. Added from the NES version is a nice remix of the overworld theme that plays during the Name Entry screen and High Score sequence.


VS Super Mario Bros. shares it’s gameplay from Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Expect to run, jump, destroy bricks, collect coins, jump on enemies, collect Mushrooms and Fire Flowers, go through warp pipes, climb vines, save Toads and eventually, free the Princess.


D-pad: Move left/right
B: Fire Fire Flower Fireball (try saying that three times fast) or hold to run
A: Jump
Select: Hold down along with Start to add a credit
Start: Hold down along with Select to add a credit

VS Super Mario Bros. controls exactly as you would expect with perfect functionality. Keep in mind that since this is a direct port of the arcade version, there is no way to pause the game, which is a major bummer. Consider this a true throwback to retro gaming demands!


Super Mario Bros. isn’t an easy game to finish as it is, but VS Super Mario Bros. is even harder. Expect fewer mushrooms, coins, more enemies and pitfalls and fewer opportunists to make mistakes. It’s still not nearly as challenging as Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japanese version) but hey, don’t expect a cakewalk, even if you can easily breeze through Super Mario Bros. already.

Availability & Price

VS Super Mario Bros. is being sold exclusively by Retrozone for the cost of $50 USD plus shipping. The price may seem rather high, but keep in mind this is not a mapper hacked version or a Chinese pirated version of the VS arcade board. What you get for the money is a brand new NES PCB with a set of dip-switches for controlling arcade functions such as the number of coins needed to gain a life, how many lives you have and to set freeplay. The game is housed in a wonderful crystal white transparent shell to show off the beautiful new PCB. The game also comes in a brand new clear plastic Retrozone Dust Sleeve that closely mimics the original Nintendo ones, but is transparent and says Retrozone rather than Nintendo. To me, the dust sleeve itself represents Retrozone’s philosophy: It’s new tech that does nothing but remind me of the way it was. God bless you Retrozone.

Retrozone’s magic turns the original arcade cabinet into a handy NES cart!


VS Super Mario Bros. was released in early 1986 in arcades in both Japan and North America. Although the arcade game was extremely similar to the home console version, changes were made to make the game more challenging such as removing 1-ups and a mushroom/fire flower spawn points and added more pitfalls to early levels. As the game would progress, differences would become more and more pronounced making the game a new and difference experience than one would find at home.

In later years, VS Super Mario Bros. would be combined in “L” shaped duel arcade cabinets combined with VS. Dr. Mario. I played both arcade machines up until just a few years ago when the arcade on Young St. in Toronto closed it’s doors in 2008. For me, this was a sad end of an era as with many other games, Vs Super Mario Bros. was a game I would return to play again and again. This is just among the reasons I’m so happy to see an NES port at last.



-It’s owning a piece of gaming history
-Dip switch settings make the game easier or more difficult, not to mention much more cool
-Fast arcade-style gameplay
-Great conversation piece


-Somewhat expensive at $50
-No way to pause the game
-Mario’s usual red hue is darker than usual

Here’s the PCB for you tech lovers out there!


Nintendo’s arcade days are long since past, but thanks to Retrozone, anyone who has held onto the first console Nintendo produced more than twenty years ago are rewarded for their dedication through this true labour of love. Hopefully, VS Super Mario Bros. will be only the first among many arcade conversions of other VS Nintendo titles that were released in the late 80’s. For now, celebrate Mario’s 25th Anniversary with a trip down memory lane in a game that is still just as super as Mario has ever been.



Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System

Genre: Action Platformer

Release Date: November 2010

Developer: Nintendo R&D1

Publisher: Retrozone

Also from the developer: Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril

Game Length: ~60 minutes

ESRB: N/A, but would be E

Buy/Skip: Buy


6 Responses to “VS Super Mario Bros. Review (NES)”

  1. hi, so this will play on the nintendo 8 bit? will it also play on my fc twin system? i am interested in purchasing it.

    Eric E.

    • satoshimatrix Says:

      Yes, this is a Nintendo Entertainment System cartridge. it is intended for all models of the hardware, but clones depend on a case-by-case basis. If your FC Twin will play the normal Super Mario Bros. correctly, then VS SMB will work too.

  2. William Ventura Says:

    When I was a kid I remember there being a warp after the big jump in 6-3. I probably remembered wrong but, when I played this on mame after the big jump you can hop on Bullet Bill to create an outline but I’ve never been able to figure it out..

  3. Satoshi, I have a quick question about this game. I recently purchased it from retroUSB. It’s my second VS game from RetroZone (the other is my personal fav, “shoot-the-dog” VS Duck Hunt). I noticed you add credits by pressing Start+Select just like on VS Duck Hunt, and you start the game by pressing start. I noticed there’s a blue and green button for one or two players on the arcade ROM. Is it possible to activate two player mode on this cart?

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