MARIO FOREVER / Buziol Games / PC
Mario Forever does a good job of capturing the look and sound of a Mario game, and an excellent job emulating the gameplay and level design.
Though the game takes its music and graphics more from the 16-bit incarnations of Mario, the gameplay is all 8-bit oldschool in that there's no capes, no animal suits, and no reserve items. In fact, the only addition beyond the gameplay conventions of the original Super Mario Bros. is a new weapon, a bouncing beet that continues to jump around randomly for awhile even after it dispatches an enemy.
You get eight worlds to go through, and you can save the game in up to three slots. Saves keep track of the number of lives you have, but they seem to make you re-start the world you are currently on from the beginning. The first couple of worlds consist of very simple levels, but the difficulty picks up pretty sharply after that and becomes comparable to the more diabolical offerings in the later reaches of Mario 3 and Super Mario World.
The graphics are pretty well done, incorporating some new background effects with the familiar old Mario tilesets. Bowser even gets a health bar now when you fight him. Mario himself is the only real weakness here; he seems to lack a few frames of animation and kind of moves in a stiff shuffle that can be a little distracting. The actual feel of Mario's movement and the gameplay are spot-on, however, it's just the animation that is a little off. The graphics seem to be a mix of sprites and tiles taken from Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES with original creations by the author. The music is also a mix largely taken from the various SNES incarnations of the Mario series.