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‘Jelly Mario Bros’: An Absurd Slurring of the NES Classic

Jelly Mario Bros. brings up some memories for me. Somewhere between 2012 and 2013 — or most all of both years, I don’t remember — was my heyday of getting a little more than just slightly buzzed.

While I’ve never been the party-hard kind of drunk, nor have I ever consumed more than I could handle, I’d be lying if I said I never stumbled (read: ran full force) into objects, such as a fire hydrant on one very specific occasion, at speeds that would’ve otherwise decimated me on a sober day without my inebriated Jell-O superpowers.

On a lot of these kinda spiraling nights, when I wouldn’t be looking for a lost plastered friend hiding out somewhere in a bush because “that made sense at the time”, it would all culminate at said friend’s place where, before eventually crashing on the couch, I’d try and beat the original Super Mario Bros. in its entirety. I had something like a 70% success rate, but that’s beside the point here.

Mario Bros
A photo from one of those nights/mornings.

Super Mario Bros. is a game near and dear to me. It’s one of the first games I ever played, and almost every aspect of it is a defining moment in what later became an important medium to me. Everyone has an “auto-pilot game”, and this is mine.

Jelly Mario Bros., a project helmed by Stefan Hedman, appears to combine both of those elements of my tipsy days into a physics-based affair. Mario re-imagined, the rules of the game have not only been turned on their heads, but I’m not sure if I know where to even locate the head at this point. Beyond the realm of mods and ROM hacks, this is more like a cheat code Neversoft might’ve loved to put in a Tony Hawk Pro Skater game.

That said, it’s not as wild as my hyperbolae might make it out to be. In fact, it’s pretty playable™.

Jelly Mario has you playing through classic Super Mario Bros, but it’s a version where everything you touch bounces an already very bouncy Mario all across everything.

Mario “swims” across the levels, like trudging through a viscid substance, all the while flailing around helplessly to the whims of a world where gravity and friction have stopped cooperating. Koji Kondo’s recognizable musical score distorts and warps as Mario struggles to move around, its rate of change depends on the player’s movement.

There aren’t any coins or power-ups or secret warp pipes, and touching enemies instantly kills you. And by “kills you”, I mean it makes you explode into hundreds of tiny little pieces. Suffice to say, the challenge here is more about navigating a spaced-out Mario from the start to the end of a level.

After spending more than a few minutes playing this game, you’ll come to realize that the challenge of finishing a level alone is enough of an objective.

Jelly Mario Bros title screen

It’s a project that I think those especially familiar with the NES game will appreciate, as it takes the familiar and turns in into the absurd. Hell, I’d love to see some Jelly Mario speed-runs once this project is fully completed.

The project is currently in pre-alpha, and progress is limited only up to a specific point in World 1-2. As it’s nowhere near completion, the game is prone to a lot of oddities that will have you restarting from the beginning. These oddities, however, like getting stuck inside objects if you collide into them with a little too much momentum, only enhance the nature of the project for me.

If any of this sounds like a fun time to you, you can play the game at jellymar.io. You can also keep up with the project on Stefan Hedman’s Twitter.

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