This is a post I wrote on SiliconAngle on December 2010.
Several indie developers have attempted recreating a good clone of Mario Bros, myself included, and failed to recreate the gameplay and quality of level design of the original.
Super Mario Bros X is the most successful Mario game engine, that allows you to play and create Mario types of games on PC.
The game comes together with a level editor, and one episode, called The Invasion 2, which includes over 80 levels.
SMBX somehow manages to mix gameplay elements and graphical style from different Super Mario games together.
The game is played on the Super Mario World template (you can stock up items, save any time), but includes items from the other games (for example the Tanooki and Hammer suit, or the shoe!), as well as new ones (ice flower, cannon). There are also Mario Bros 2 themed levels, where you can lift characters and throw vegetable at them like in the original.
You can select Mario, Luigi, Toad, Peach and even Link from Zelda. Every character has a different gameplay and reacts differently to powerups.
There is a 2 player mode, which can be played either in coop or battle. Coop plays similarly to New Super Mario Bros on Wii. Players can support or hassle each other and interestingly, the screen will split if they are too far apart. The battle mode is a mix between the old Mario’s battle mode and something like Super Smash Bros.
Overall, the gameplay feels authentic to the original. Similarly to Super Mario World, there are several secret levels and hidden stars. There are also Metroid and Zelda themed levels, which fit surprisingly well.
The other aspect of SMBX is its engine capability. You can download several more mods, which have been created by the community. Have a look at the forums for more info. You can also create your own mods, using existing items from current Mario games, or create new graphics packs. There’s also an impressive realtime level editor, which lets you iterate levels quickly.
If you’d like to try other great themed Mario games, check out the following.
Tuper Tario Bros A crazy mix between Mario and Tetris. The concept is so bizarre that you should try it.
Super Mario Crossover A recreation of Super Mario Bros, with characters from other classic NES games such as Metroid, Castlevania, Megaman and Zelda!
Find more details on the wiki.
Also, check out dozens of great Nintendo related projects from the years Nintendo Fangame convention.