The Lost Levels is the true successor to Super Mario Bros. in Japan, finding its way to western shores under a different name to mask Nintendo's dirty little secret. Those with confidence in their gaming ability will lap up the challenge on offer here; The Lost Levels is easily the most hardcore offering on the disc, with some of the most dastardly displays of level design you're likely to see in a platform game.
Super Mario Bros. 3 is still the highlight, for me at least. The introduction of an overworld gave the game a much more impressive sense of scale than its predecessors, with new power-ups such as the Super Leaf and Tanooki Suit allowing Mario to take to the skies for the first time. It's a more diverse experience, too, with eight distinct worlds and memorable boss battles against the evil-yet-endearing Koopalings. It's pretty darn hard, too, but not in that overly frustrating way of The Lost Levels.
As this is Mario's 25 year anniversary in the plumbing and rescuing princesses trade, Nintendo has been kind enough to pop the game in a rather nice red box (although I expect many would have preferred a steel tin), complete with audio CD and history of Mario booklet. The CD features 20 tracks spanning the entire breadth of the series, from the original Super Mario Bros. to Mario Galaxy 2. A hefty nine of those tracks are just 3 or 4 second long sound effects, though, which feels like a bit of a con in my mind. The history book feels a little half-arsed, too; a slightly higher quality version of an instruction manual. Across its thirty pages are details on each game in the series, with concept drawings, character designs and notation from Shigeru Miyamoto himself. It's pleasant enough to flick through, but could have been padded out better with more artwork and insight from the developers. It would have been much nicer in hardback, too.
Despite these lingering wishes, Super Mario All-Stars is still a tidy little package. The games themselves are the real stars here, only really let down by lack of 60hz support. It's doubtful that the compilation will ever find its way onto the Virtual Console in this form, so now's the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss was about if you missed out on the original All-Stars back in the day. It might be a tad overpriced at £24.99 for a ROM dump of four SNES games, but Nintendo's ever-loyal fans won't find it hard to justify dropping the cash regardless.