Mario is Missing!
  • Genre:
    • Edutainment
  • Developers:
    • The Software Toolworks (DOS/SNES/MAC)
    • Radical Entertainment (NES)
  • Publishers:
    • Mindscape (DOS/SNES/MAC)
    • Nintendo (NES)
  • Released:
    DOS
    • US 1992
    SNES
    • US June 1993
    • UK June 1993
    NES
    • US July 1993
    • UK July 1993
    MAC
    • US June 1994
Score: 50%

This review was published on 03/06/2015.

Mario is Missing! is an educational video game for the PC, Macintosh, Nintendo Entertainment System, and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It's a Super Mario spinoff and was originally released in floppy disk format on the PC in 1992, then got a CD-ROM version the following year, and eventually made its way to Macintosh in June 1994. As for the home console versions, the game was released on the SNES in June 1993 and on the NES in July 1993. The SNES and PC versions were developed by The Software Toolworks and published by Mindscape and the NES version was developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Nintendo. This is the first game to feature Luigi as the sole protagonist and he wouldn't get another adventure of his own until the release of Luigi's Mansion in 2001. It's too bad that Luigi's first game turned out to be one of the worst games of all time. The quality is the real thing that's missing here.

Image

Bowser, the villainous villain from the Super Mario series, has the bright idea to totally flood the Earth by melting Antarctica using a bunch of hairdryers he mail ordered from a company known as Hafta Havit Mail-Order. He doesn't have the funds to cover all of these expenses, though, so he sends his army of goons all over the world, the real world, to rob valuable ancient artifacts that he will later sell on the black market. Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi, the two Italian plumber brothers and their dinosaur pal, decide to stop this ludicrous plan by heading to Bowser's castle. Unfortunately, Mario is kidnapped by Bowser, leaving Luigi with the job of rescuing his sibling and returning the artifacts. Luigi leaves Yoshi behind and braves the dark depths of the castle to rescue his beloved brother. This is perhaps the most ridiculous plot for a Mario game ever, and that's saying something. The story differs slightly depending on what version of the game you're playing, with the technologically more capable versions having more cutscenes and dialogue, but the overall premise remains the same. That is to say, the premise remains stupid.

Image

Since Mario is missing in action, Luigi takes up the crime fighting mantle by going on an adventure to return the stolen artifacts. Never mind saving Mario; we've got priceless artifacts to find! The artifacts are being held by Bowser's soldiers at various cities around the world. Luckily, Luigi is at Bowser's castle, which has a bunch of warp pipes leading to all the cities in question. Once Luigi arrives at a city, he'll need to find and defeat all the Koopa Troopas to retrieve the artifacts they're holding. When all artifacts in a city have been found, Luigi has to return them to information booths near the correct landmarks. Strangely, the people operating the information booths will quiz Luigi on the landmark he's trying to return the items to. If he gets any of the questions wrong, then they'll simply refuse to receive the item. This makes absolutely no sense. I mean, the guy's trying to do your city a favor here. In the event that you can't answer the questions, you can talk to the townspeople for hints. Naturally, that's where the "educational" part of the game comes into play, as the questions will test your knowledge on basic history and geography. Sadly, the game forgot to make any of this fun.

Image

To make the artifact search faster, Luigi can ride Yoshi around for a slight boost in speed. Yoshi is also necessary to actually leave the city once your business is done there. However, Yoshi was left all the way back at Antarctica, so that presents a bit of a problem. You can open the world map to guide Yoshi to the city Luigi's currently exploring, but you need to know Luigi's actual location to do that. Whenever Luigi first enters a city, you're not immediately notified of what the city is or what country it's in. Therefore, you must deduce the location of the city and its name by doing some detective work. That entails talking to the random townsfolk and asking them about surrounding landmarks and artifacts. The townies won't usually outright tell you what the city is, but they'll drop not-so-subtle hints about it. For example, a townsperson may tell you that Caesar once lived in the city many years ago, which reveals the location as Rome, Italy. After you figure out the location, you merely select it on the map and voila, Yoshi instantly appears at Luigi's side! Riding Yoshi isn't nearly as cool as it was in Super Mario World, though, because aside from the minor speed boost and letting you exit the city, he doesn't do much.

Image

Besides the obvious difference in graphics and sound, the different versions of the game also sport other differences. Different differences differ differently. The controls and interface will differ depending on what version of the game you're playing. The NES version has the worst interface by far, in that it doesn't really have one; you pick options by pressing select and execute them by pressing start, which controls everything from talking to townspeople to viewing the map and item menu. Thankfully, the other versions have more convenient interfaces. Another difference is the amount of cities each version has. Again, the NES version kind of gets the shaft in this department, being that it has the least amount of cities, while the PC version has the most, and the SNES version takes the middle ground. While the PC version is technologically the best and features the most content, the art style is bizarre, the game runs at a snail's pace, and getting it to work on modern computers is a real pain in the neck, so you're better off with the SNES port.

Image

So what's wrong with this game? Well, aside from the primary game play being extremely dull, it's also very repetitive. The concept may be marginally interesting the first time around, but it quickly loses its appeal by the second city onwards. That's pretty awful, especially considering how there could be anywhere from 14 to 25 cities, depending on the version of the game you're playing. The cities change in visual appearance and layouts, but that's about it. Also, there's no real conflict to the game, as it's impossible to lose, or even be slightly hindered. Enemies are totally unable to harm Luigi, and there's no consequence to getting the questions wrong, other than having to try them again. The only challenge is having the patience to slog through the same few repetitive tasks city after city. This game isn't very educational, either, as the information is tucked away behind tedious nonsense that would bore anyone to sleep well before they had a chance to learn something.

Image

Mario isn't the only thing that's missing from this game. The quality is, too. This game should've been called The Quality is Missing. Even if geography was your favorite subject in school, you're not likely to enjoy this game. Being forced to complete the same set of tasks over and over gets old fast, which makes you feel old fast. The only appeal this game has is that it stars Luigi as the main hero and takes place in the real world instead of Mario's fictitious world. Not that those things make the game worth playing. The SNES version is the most playable, but really, you should just avoid this game altogether. This game is neither educational nor entertaining. It makes textbooks look exciting. If you want to be bored to tears, then look no further than Mario is Missing!

Word Count: 1,306