Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Mario Bros.", Atari 2600, 1983

This ad is an unusual example of print ad as storyboard. Comic books are very similar to storyboards that filmmakers use to plot out the angles etc. from which on-screen action will be presented (one factor in the recent boom of comics-to-movies adaptions). So here is the print ad, and here is the TV version, essentially reading off the same script. It's curious!

ATARI presents MARIO BROS.

Another smash arcade hit brought home only by Atari for use with the ATARI 2600 Game, Sears Video Arcade systems and versions exclusively for the Atari 5200 Super System.
Exciting 2 player action!
Something's gumming up the plumbing...
♫ Poor Luigi's in a bind...
♫ Killer turtles out to get him...
♫ Giant crabs are right behind...
♫ Fighter flies, holy cripes! They're all coming out the pipes!
Mario, where are you?!

You find that kind of cross-media brand campaign these days, but they're rarely so redundant -- more than once I've been totally baffled by something on a bus shelter referencing a TV commercial I haven't seen because, well, I don't watch TV.

This ad raises a couple of questions for me about the whole Super Mario franchise -- for instance, why they retained the turtles (as koopas) but ditched the crabs and other sewer-based enemies from this game?  Also, that turtles panel is a conspicuously ugly example of sprite art conversion. Further Mario Bros. contemplation -- his hitting the enemies from the lower level is presumably why Mario punches when he jumps up, enabling the brick-smashing in the SUPER Mario games.  Was anything else from here retained besides the pipes?  The POW brick turned up in SMB2...