|Developer(s)||Nintendo Research & Development 1|
|Genre(s)||Platform game, action|
Mario Clash (マリオクラッシュ Mario Kurasshu) is a game produced by Nintendo in 1995 for the Virtual Boy. It is the first stereoscopic 3D Mario game, and a 3D reimagining of Mario Bros. Reception for the game was mixed. Reviewers felt that, while the Virtual Boy hardware itself held the game back, it had its positive traits as well.
Mario Clash was designed as a 3D version of the original Mario Bros. arcade game. The objective of the game is to knock all the enemies in a particular level off ledges. This is accomplished by jumping on a Koopa Troopa, picking up its shell, and then throwing it at other enemies to defeat them. Levels consist of two planes, a "foreground" and a "background", with lower, middle, and upper floor on each plane, and four pipes connecting different combinations of planes and floors. Some enemies can be defeated with Mario throwing a shell at an enemy on the same plane as himself, while others can only be defeated if Mario throws a shell at an enemy into the background from the foreground, or vice versa. The game's sole usable item is a mushroom, which, when touched, initializes "Fever Time", where Mario's shell throwing defeats any enemy it touches, regardless of its defenses. The game has 99 levels, although the player can only choose to begin from any of the first forty of them. However, the game does not allow for the saving of progress through the games, or high scores, once the game is turned off.
Mario Clash was developed by Nintendo R&D1, with director Gunpei Yokoi, the same team that was responsible for the development of the Virtual Boy itself. Shigeru Miyamoto contributed to the game's design. Yokoi's success with the Game Boy line of systems, coupled with the public's general belief that it was too early for the next generation of systems, due to the failure of systems such as the 3DO and the Atari Jaguar, the team brainstormed on different directions that could be taken. The team came up with a system that used 3D images to display conventional 2D graphics, the Virtual Boy being the end result on the hardware end, and Mario Clash and Mario's Tennis the end result on the software end. During the development of Mario Clash, a writer for Next Generation called it "perhaps the most promising title" for the Virtual Boy. Like all other Virtual Boy games, Mario Clash uses a red-and-black color scheme and uses parallax, an optical trick that is used to simulate a 3D effect.
The game has received mixed reception. Almost all of GameFan Magazine's staff chose Mario Clash as their favourite Virtual Boy game during their test of the console pre-release due to its combination of platform gameplay with 3D effects. Their final reviews gave it a 75 and 72 out of 100. One reviewer praised the game's 3D effects while both felt it became tedious over time. GamePro's brief review praised the excellent use of the Virtual Boy's 3D feature but hinted that the Virtual Boy hardware did not do the game justice, and expressed hope that the game would be released for the Super NES. IGN likewise called it a "mildly clever little game that could have succeeded without the strange limitations of the Virtual Boy itself", citing the system's red-only graphics and awkward controller as things holding it back. They also felt it "underrated". Nintendo Life gave the game a 6 out of 10, stating that it "can be pretty boring and with its flat sprites, lack of a save function and other minor niggles, it's hard to recommend as an essential purchase. However, if you stick with it you'll find it does provide something of a challenge... it hardly deserves the title of 'Worse Mario Game Ever.'" Nintendojo was more positive about it, give it an 8 out of 10, stating "While not without its pitfalls, Mario Clash proves to be an innovative departure for a Nintendo interpretation of Mario Bros... The modern iteration found in Super Mario Advance and Super Mario Advance 2 may be very faithful to the original and include 4-player support, but Mario Clash is still a worthwhile romp through the 3rd dimension..." GamesRadar praised the game,stating "it actually made brilliant use of 3D...The level designs featured a huge amount of variety, and figuring each one out was enormously fun." Official Nintendo Magazine called it a "fun little game", but criticized the Virtual Boy hardware for causing headaches during gameplay. UGO Networks' Marissa Meli felt that the game's font made it look rushed. UGO Networks called Mario Clash the low point of the Mario series' life. Allgame's Scott Alan Marriott felt that the game was fun but that it risked repetition and suffered from the lack of a save system for high scores. PALGN's Luke called it one of the hardest Mario games ever made. ABC Good Game wrote that Mario Clash tried to revive the series' arcade roots but "wasn't very good." Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it a 7.125 average, but the four reviewers were divided: Andrew and Mike complained of loose control which made it difficult to jump on a target, and felt the game was "okay" but became dull after a short while, whereas Mark and Sushi argued that the simple gameplay was addictive and that the game made perfect use of the Virtual Boy hardware. Next Generation awarded Mario Clash three out of five stars. A writer for the magazine commented, "In the end, Mario Smash doesn't deliver the next generation of gaming, it's not addictive, exciting, or even nice looking, but it's a darn good distraction in an interesting new format."
Mario Clash has been a popular suggestion for a 3DS remake by critics. They also named it as one of the five 3D games of Nintendo's past that were most deserving of a rerelease on the Nintendo 3DS, 1UP.com staff called it a good game that would be given new life on the 3DS. In an interview with Nintendo 3DS hardware director Hideki Konno, IGN's Craig Harris said he was surprised a Mario Clash tech demo wasn't among those created to show off the 3DS console at its premiere event.
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