Giant turtles out to get him, creepy crabs are right behind
Fighter Flies, jeepers, yipes!
They're all comin' out the pipes!
Luigi: Mario, where are you?!
Mario and Luigi, the Mario Brothers, must try to get rid of Shellcreepers (green turtles, and completely separate creatures from the Koopas that would debut later), Sidesteppers (crabs, which need to be hit twice), and Fighter Flies (flies, which can be defeated only while they touch the platform) that come pouring out of the waterworks. Hit the floor beneath them to flip them over, then kick them into the water. Collect coins for bonuses.
Later, the Slipice (renamed Freezies in the NES version) will come out and freeze the platforms, making your traction very poor. As the game progresses, water drops hang below the platforms and freeze into deadly icicles, which fall soon after. note
Keep track of the green fireballs as they will appear more frequently. The red fireball can also be a menace. If need be, you can hit the fireballs from below when they touch the platform. Beware of hitting the red fireball. It rapidly reappears and moves much faster.
Hit the POW platform to knock over your enemies and destroy fireballs. Be wise, because you only get three, and it doesn't come back until after the bonus round. Each difficulty level begins with three POWs and a bonus wave in which 10 coins are available to be collected.
Released in arcades in 1983 and later ported to home consoles, the game introduced many elements that would remain in use in later Mario games, like turtles as enemies, pipes, collecting coins, and Mario's brother Luigi.
- Anti-Frustration Features: A meta example. The GBA remake being put in all the Super Mario Advance games as well as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga might seem like minigame shilling...until one realizes that having this game available on multiple games makes it easier to set up multiplayer games of Mario Bros (having one game pak with this game for every player makes loading times much faster in competitive mode and enables cooperative mode...provided there is a link cable as well for each system).
- Ash Face: In the original game, this happens to Mario and Luigi upon touching one of the fireballs, although it turns their faces brown instead of black. Averted in the GBA port, where touching a fireball turns the player red.
- Atrocious Arthropods: Shellcreepers notwithstanding, the two main foes that the Mario Bros. face are both arthropods, being Sidesteppers, which are crabs, and Fighter Flies, which are... well, flies.
- Attract Mode: The original arcade game has one, which, alongside the tutorial, gives the player a quick crash course on how to play the game.
- Blue Means Cold: Touching a Freezy or being hit by a falling icicle not only makes the player lose a life, it turns the player blue for a split second.
- Bonus Level: One where the only goal was to collect all the coins before time ran out.
- Bragging Rights Reward: Maxing out the hi-score at 999,990 in the GBA remake simply adds five stars above your score on the game select screen.
- Catchphrase: "Oh! Mama Mia!" - Mario, upon losing a life in the GBA port.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Alas, poor Shellcreeper. In all remakes of this game except for the Super Smash Bros. Brawl stage, Shellcreepers are replaced with Spinies, to avoid confusion with Koopa Troopas that can safely be jumped on.
- Cue the Flying Pigs: Meta example. After 34 years, the original arcade version is now available to play on a Nintendo console system; in this case, the Nintendo Switchnote
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Do not jump on the turtles, not only will this not stop or kill them, it will kill you. Due to the considerable amount of Sequel Displacement that Super Mario Bros. inflicted on this game, most people new to it assume the turtles are Koopa Troopas, which can normally be put out of commission by Goomba Stomping them. But the Stomp was not yet implemented in this game, and the turtles are actually different-but-remarkably-similar enemies named Shellcreepers. In order to avoid this, some more modern remakes or ports replace the Shellcreepers with Spinies, an enemy that has a spiked shell and famously can't be jumped on. The Battle Mode of Super Mario All-Stars for 3's portion splits the difference; the Shellcreepers are replaced by Spinies, but there also exist actual Koopas which you can Goomba Stomp and use their shells against other enemies (or the other player).
- Early-Installment Weirdness: No Goomba Stomp,note and the turtles kill you when you try to jump on them. The turtles are also called Shellcreepers instead of Koopas. There's also no Princess Peach, Bowser,note or the Mushroom Kingdom. Just two plumbers dealing with creatures in a sewer.
- Embedded Precursor: This game is playable in all the Super Mario Advance games note as well as in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, and in Super Mario 3D World as a slightly reworked version called Luigi Bros.
- Endless Game: As with most golden age games. The GBA remake caps out at 99 phases and simply repeats from then on, and the hi score maxes out at 999,990.
- Every 10,000 Points: An extra life for every 20,000 points. The GBA remake gives a 1-up only for the first 20,000 points, the rest are given for a perfect Bonus Game.
- Family Title: Refers to the player one character in the red shirt and hat, and blue overalls.note
- Flipping Helpless: Mario and Luigi could flip turtles (Shellcreepers) over by jumping up from directly below and hitting the level the turtle was walking on. If neither Mario nor Luigi ran into the turtle and knocked it off, it would eventually jump out of its shell, kick the shell over, get back in and continue walking. This could be done with crabs (Sidesteppers) as well, but required two hits. The Fighterflies could be flipped ONLY if they were on the floor when that part of the floor was hit by Mario and Luigi (if they were in the air, there was no effect).
- Giant Enemy Crab: The Sidesteppers. You even have to flip them over, on their backs. However, unlike the Shellcreepers and Fighterflies, they took TWO hits, not one, to flip them over (the first hit just made them mad).
- The Goomba: The Shellcreepers are the most basic enemy in the game, walking only in a straight line and taking only one hit to flip over. Ironic, considering they would serve as precursors to the Koopas, who would have a few more perks that would make them a more complex enemy than the literal Goombas.
- Gratuitous English: The arcade version has a couple of minor examples. The "Shellcreeper" demonstration tells the player to "jumpup" to the next floor in order to kick the shellcreeper into the water, while the "Sidestepper" demonstration tells the player that the "1st-hit" makes it mad and that the "2nd-hit" flips it over.
- Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: Both fireballs. The green one bounces from one side of the screen to the other. The red one, which bounces of the ceiling and walls especially applies if you stay in a level too long. If they were on the floor when the floor was hit by Mario or Luigi, though, they scored 200 points for green fireballs and 1000 points for red fireballs.
- I Have Many Names:
- Instructive Level Design: The GBA remake's first level is an effective crash course on the games mechanics and is slightly better at tipping off the player on the games mechanics through visual clues than the original arcade game, which is good since it lacks the tutorial screennote . The Shellcreepers are replaced by Spinies as your common foe, so the player will be tipped off that unlike other Mario games, they can't attack enemies by jumping on them, forcing the player to find an alternative. Jumping around (or bumping the POW block) will quickly reveal that Mario can interact with the floor above him, leading the player to discovering they can flip enemies over by hitting the floor from below.note Once the Spinies are made vulnerable, the player will assume you can jump on them now, but it leads to them finding out you (still) kick them offscreen instead.
- Jump Physics: Partly averted in the original game, since it lacked the ability to change direction in midair. The Japan-exclusive update Kaette Kita Mario Bros. introduced this in order to bring it in line with the SMB series, and every other Updated Re-release has kept this as part of the game.
- Kill Streak: Points increase in value when Mario quickly kicks multiple enemies in a row (800, 1600, 2400, 3200). In the GBA remake, a 1-up is earned alongside 3,200 points for the fifth enemy onwards.
- Mêlée à Trois: The Battle Mode in the GBA remake is basically a 5-way fight between the four players and the various enemies, further encouraged by how the players can pick up and throw or kick each other into the enemies.
- Multi-Mook Melee: Mario and Luigi have to deal with turtles ("Shellcreepers" in the original and Spinies in more modern ports and remakes), crabs ("Sidesteppers"), (Fighter) Flies, hyper destructive bouncing (fire)balls, icebergs that freeze the middle and bottom platforms ("Slipice" / "Freezies"), and even icicles (though these only appear in the arcade and Game Boy Advance versions).
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Bowser in the GBA remake's Battle Mode cannot be removed, he simply gets stunned when jumped under.
- Palette Swap: Luigi to Mario. The GBA remake includes a yellow and blue Mario with both wearing white overalls.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The game is famous for opening with Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
- Scoring Points: This was the last Mario game whose primary goal was to score as many points as possible. Future games, starting with Super Mario Bros., would follow the "campaign" model.
- Shout-Out: The commercial for the "Atari" versions of the game uses a jingle set to the tune of the classic sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?
- The revamped version of the game featured on the Super Mario Advance cartridges features a bass line in the musical soundtrack which sounds suspiciously like the main hook from The Beatles' "Birthday."
- Smart Bomb: The POW Block, which flips over, or otherwise affects all enemies and objects on the ground. However, any enemies ALREADY flipped over before the POW is hit flips them back up.
- The Spiny: More modern remakes and ports replace Shellcreepers with Spinies to let you know not to try to jump on enemies.
- Stealth Pun: In this game, you have to clear each stage by flipping the enemies onto their backs and then "kicking" them while they're "down". Think about that for a second...
- Tremor Trampoline: The POW Block works by bouncing the entire stage each time it's hit, which potentially flips enemies over so you can knock them away. As a result, it does not work on enemies currently in the air, especially Fighter Flies. In two-player mode, it also makes the other player bounce up slightly.
- Turns Red: Happens if an enemy gets back up from getting bumped over, they become faster. This also happens if they are the last standing enemy of the stage.
- Variations on a Theme Song: Downplayed, the GBA remake's entire soundtrack is slightly different from each Super Mario Advance game as all of them have their own soundfont.note
- Video Game Remake: The Game Boy Advance version. Most of it is based on the Famicom Disk System version, ''Kaettekita Mario Bros.''note , which is slightly closer to the original arcade version, but allows you to change directions while jumping.note It also uses Super Mario Bros. 2's sprites for the player characters, even allowing the use of the charged jump. Most people mainly remember this game due to it being released on all Super Mario Advance games and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.
- Wrap Around: Like a number of arcade games at the time, this game lets you keep going in one direction, appearing offscreen, then appearing at the opposite side.