On October 18th, 1985 the NES launched in the United States in NYC. Although Super Mario Bros and it’s progeny would become some of the most beloved games in the NES library, Super Mario Bros didn’t actual release on launch day with the NES. Thats not to say Mario wasn’t present in the launch of the system in the US, Mario was the protagonist of a lesser known game called Wrecking Crew.
The game was designed by Yoshio Sakamoto, who would later go on to work on great games such as Metroid, Kid Icarus, Super Metroid and most recently he’s credited with supervising Nintendo’s much anticipated Splatoon.
The player assumes the control of Mario in this arcade style game and instantly you will notice he looks a little funny. He’s wielding a giant hammer and his hat looks like a helmet. Apparently before Mario got into plumbing, he was smashing down buildings and avoiding eggplant men. He also doesn’t seem to be capable of jumping, which the manual explains is a result of the weight of the hammer. The objective here is to smash down walls using whatever means possible.
Once the game begins, you’ll start with 5 lives, you can only lose these lives by coming in contact with an enemy, or by getting hit by a fireball. After you use up the five lives, you’ll get a game over. It’s also fairly easy to trap yourself on a floor with no way to exit, in this instance you must quit the game and start over. Wrecking Crew also has a level select option, so you can skip around levels. Level 100 is no joke.
One of the other characters that makes an appearance in this game is a foreman named Spike. He’ll chase Mario in some levels of the game, and attempt to disrupt your progress. There is a popular fan theory that Spike is in fact, an early version of Wario.Though there is no picture of him in the manual, he has the same appearance as the Mario Bros, with the addition of a hooked nose, and sunglasses. He also displays a mouth full of messed up teeth when he gets hurt, which is somewhat reminiscent of Wario.
Wrecking Crew isn’t nearly as well known as other games in the Mario family, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great game. It’s actually quite enjoyable, the graphics are pretty good for it’s time and Mario’s sprite might even be more intricate then the sprite for Mario in Super Mario World 1. The sound is good, it’s got the arcade feel to it, but it does get quite repetitive over time Wrecking Crew also features a level editor feature, which is a neat feature for such an old game, considering we’re just getting the Mario Maker game now, 30 years later. It also has a 2 player feature, so one person can play as Mario and one can play as Luigi.
While not exactly considered a classic on the NES, this game is worth playing through at least once, and it’s definitely a worthwhile addition to any collection.