Super Mario Bros. 35 review: A unique but lackluster multiplayer experiment

Super Mario Bros 35 Hero
(Image: © Nintendo)

iMore Verdict

Bottom Line: Super Mario Bros. 35 attempts to fit the classic 1985 game into a battle royale shell. It's a unique take on the genre but fails to address the balance issues that spring up from such a combination. The result is a clumsy and forgettable footnote in Mario's illustrious career.


  • +

    It's free (with Nintendo Switch Online)

  • +

    It's a unique take on the battle royale genre


  • -

    Gameplay is wildly unbalanced and repetitive

  • -

    It's unclear how to unlock levels

  • -

    No options to play with friends

You can always trust iMore. Our team of Apple experts have years of experience testing all kinds of tech and gadgets, so you can be sure our recommendations and criticisms are accurate and helpful. Find out more about how we test.

Back at the start of September 2020 (which already feels like months ago), Nintendo dropped a surprise Nintendo Direct to celebrate Mario's 35th anniversary. While the main attraction was the Super Mario 3D All Stars collection, they also debuted an exclusive title for Nintendo Switch Online users called Super Mario Bros. 35, a multiplayer, battle-royale game that pits you against 34 other players in a race to out last each other by rushing through original Super Mario Bros. levels. It's a truly unique concept, especially one for Nintendo's premiere mascot. Mario can seemingly do it all.

But does Super Mario Bros. 35 deliver? While it's a mostly fun (and mostly free) download, Super Mario Bros. 35 isn't anything more than what it says it is, and pales in comparison to the other Mario games found on the system. Ultimately, it is just another way for Nintendo to shove the original Super Mario Bros. game down our throats.

What I like about Super Mario Bros. 35

Super Mario Bros 35 Fire Flower

Super Mario Bros 35 Fire Flower (Image credit: iMore)

Super Mario Bros. 35 is a battle royale-lite. It's not competing with true battle royale games like Fortnite or Call of Duty: Warzone, it's closer in scale to Tetris 99, the other Nintendo Online exclusive battle royale game. In fact, a lot of Tetris 99's DNA can be found in Super Mario Bros. 35. Players race through classic Mario levels and try to make it to the end of each stage and progress. In order to attack, players must defeat enemies on their way to the flagpole. Doing so will add time to their timer while also sending the enemy at another player's screen. The more enemies you kill, the more enemies fill your opponent's screen. You win the game by overwhelming the player with enemies and causing them to die.

The game allows you to directly aim your attacks at a specific player, or you can choose one of four settings at the top to direct your attacks at players who are attacking you, players with the most coins, players with the lowest time, or shoot from the hip with the random setting.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategorySuper Mario Bros. 35
TitleSuper Mario Bros. 35
GenreBattle Royale
PlatformsNintendo Switch
Game Size400MB
PriceFree download with Nintendo Switch Online

Action on the screen is fast-paced, so it feels fruitless to aim at a specific screen, so I often found myself using one of the presets to guide my fire. In addition, the coins players collect can be used for a chance to pull a power-up like a Star, Fire Flower, or a Pow Block, which can help a player clear out a full screen of enemies in a pinch.

Aside from the battle royale aspect of the game, levels are 1:1 recreations of the original Super Mario Bros. that debuted back 35 years ago on the Nintendo Entertain System. Coins and power-ups are exactly where you remember them. Even the warp zones are still there. There's also a Special Battle mode that sets certain rules that change after an allotted time, daily challenges that offer XP to help you level up, and a Course Practice mode.

What I don't like about Super Mario Bros. 35

Super Mario 35 Swimming

Super Mario 35 Swimming (Image credit: iMore)

Unlike Tetris 99, which ramps up the speed as the player number narrows down, Super Mario Bros. 35 just fills the screen with more enemies. There is hardly any enemy variety, as most main form of attack is to simply walk forward into Mario. The biggest problem, however, comes from the Fire Flower. From a simple Goomba to Bowser himself, the Fire Flower makes quick work of every enemy in this game. If you have a Fire Flower equipped, it doesn't matter if your screen is filled with enemies — simply smash on the Y button and you'll send them right back to where they came from.

This saps all of the excitement from endgame matches. Veteran players will simply spam the Fire Flower until one of the them falls into a pit or accidentally walks into an enemy. But even that can be circumvented with a quick 20-coin purchase of an item. All this makes the game boring to spectate and even more boring to play.

All this makes the game boring to spectate and even more boring to play.

And I hope you like level 1-1 because you'll be playing it a lot. It's not clear how to unlock levels in Super Mario Bros. 35. Even after playing for a few hours, I only managed to unlock a few other levels in the game. Players can select a level at the beginning of the game, but it seems like Super Mario Bros 35. cycles through the choices of all 35 players. Since there's not a lot of variety at the time, you'll be seeing a lot of the same few levels. I'm hoping that this changes as more players play and unlock levels.

In true Nintendo fashion, the game also lacks the ability to play with friends. It's solo all the time, just like the original game. The lack of any party system just made me feel like I was playing in a bubble. At least give me a canned response, Nintendo! But maybe that doesn't even matter, because like Super Mario 3D All Stars, Nintendo is removing this game from the eshop on March 31st 2021 for some reason.

Is Super Mario Bros. 35 worth the download?

Super Mario 35 Loading

Super Mario 35 Loading (Image credit: iMore)

Super Mario Bros 35. isn't a terrible game, but it feels like one that wasn't thought out very well. The gameplay balancing issues stymie the excitement that comes from a fast-paced multiplayer game, while the lack of social features and unlocks doesn't really give the player much reason to keep playing. At its most chaotic, Super Mario Bros. 35 feels like a poorly made level you'd find while playing Super Mario Maker 2. At it's worse, it's a repetitive endurance match between players shooting fireballs.

The Nintendo Switch has become the home to many great platformers and great Mario games, all of which are better uses of your time. Heck, just go play the original Super Mario Bros. game that's also available for free with Nintendo Switch Online. And If you want a more complete battle royale experience, you're better off playing the very excellent Tetris 99. Super Mario Bros. 35 can stay in the vault.

Super Mario Bros. 35 is a fun idea that could've been something special, but as of now, feels like an after thought. It may be a limited time release, but you wont be missing out on much skipping this one.

Zackery Cuevas

Zackery Cuevas is a writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. He likes playing video games, talking about video games, writing about video games, and most importantly, complaining about video games. If you're cool, you can follow me on Twitter @Zackzackzackery.