Even though there wasn’t a whole lot to Super Mario Bros.’ localization, it’s pretty clear that Nintendo was serious about making the game as palatable for American gamers as possible. For example, it would’ve been all too easy – and maybe even cheaper – to leave the enemy and character names in Japanese, much like what happened with Super Mario Land for the Game Boy years later:
I’m also impressed at how a lot of the localization choices made this early on continue to be used to this day. Being able to stand the test of time – especially if we’re talking in terms of DECADES – is the sign of a good localization and good localization teams.
That said, not all the localization choices made here lasted very long. It’s kind of a shame, but I’ll chalk it up to new management I guess. There were also a few tiny translation issues here and there too, but for the most part none of it matters too much. At least not when you’re looking at just this one game rather than the series as a whole.
And, as I mentioned many times before, it’s especially interesting to see how NOA added lots of references to “death” and “killing” in the instruction manual – just a few years later and they would’ve done the exact opposite. I’m guessing that these references were added because they were common gamer lingo at the time.
In all, I think I’d give Super Mario Bros.’ localization a grade of “Good”. It’s honestly hard to give it a grade at all with so little material to work with, but it did an excellent job at what it set out to do: make the game (and thus the NES) as fun and accessible for American gamers as possible.
Good job, whoever helped work on the game’s localization back then!