Jigsaw Review: Super Mario Bros World 1-1 and Welcome to Warp Zone Puzzles

Nostalgic bliss awaits in USAopoly’s latest collectible videogame jigsaw puzzles themed after the original Super Mario Bros. Fittingly, these jigsaw representations of Nintendo’s platforming classic also put forth a high level of difficulty that’s sure to please retro gaming enthusiasts old enough to remember pounding their NES controllers into submission while trying to rescue Princess Toadstool from King Bowser. Jigsaw beginners should probably pursue less demanding puzzles first and leave these to more experienced assemblers.

Let’s start with the easiest of the two first (though it is by no means easy in comparison to other like-size puzzles). Depicting the iconic flagpole jump at the close of the first stage, the World 1-1 puzzle consists of 550 pieces and has completed dimensions of 18″ x 24″. The pieces are pretty average in terms of size and the shape of the cuts. The castle, bricks, flagpole, and top HUD text provide distinguishable patterns to focus on first, and getting those areas set is fairly simple. But then you’re left with a sea of blue empty space to fill in, which looks something like this:

Solid color is always the toughest part of any jigsaw puzzle. Thankfully there are subtle shifts between darker and lighter shades of blue, but it takes a keen eye to perceive the change in hues. Before long blue jigsaw pieces may just end up haunting your dreams until the final one is set.

At 1,000 pieces and a 19″ x 27″ finished size, the World 1-2 puzzle welcomes you to the Warp Zone with an even loftier degree of difficulty. The Warp Zone puzzle has a similar flow to it as the World 1-1, with the periphery patterns of brick, piping, and text surrounding large areas of solid black background. Like before, you’re eventually left with an incomplete puzzle that looks like this:

Two things further amplify the challenge of assembling these areas of solid color. First is the simple fact that the puzzle is larger–nearly double the number of pieces–which means the individual pieces are even tinier. Mamma Mia, those tiny all-black pieces are no joke!

What will truly confuse and cofound even the wittiest jigsaw puzzle master, though, is the plethora of odd and obtuse cutout patterns used for many of the pieces, some the likes of which I’ve never encountered before. Mixed in with more traditional shapes are some that look like this (out of plenty of other oddball examples I could have shown):

The challenge with weird cuts like these is that in many places you’ll think you’ve identified an open spot for a more common piece, when in fact the correct configuration ends up being a combination of multiple pieces. Once you find the matching pairs everything suddenly makes sense and looks normal, but until then the strangeness of the angles and edges often makes visualizing piece placement extra tricky.

Something that makes both puzzles especially tough is how numerous pieces have shapes that are damn near identical, to the point of being almost impossible to differentiate between until you’ve goofed up and put one where the other is supposed to go. It’s not unusual to struggle with a section because an almost imperceptible difference between pieces leads you into putting one where it doesn’t belong. And of course you only discover this when you can’t find any other pieces to fit the adjacent connections, and then have to backtrack to fix the errant piece.

USAopoly definitely nailed the retro theme dead on, in terms of old school difficulty as well as the print quality and authenticity of the finished images. The completed puzzles look just like hi-res screenshots captured directly from an NES and blown up to pixel-perfect poster size. Which is to say they both look straight up awesome, a satisfying reward for the extreme effort that went into their assembly. Harder to crack then a Koopa shell, these Super Mario Bros. jigsaw puzzles will regularly stump your brain with mental game over screens, but in the end the gratification of overcoming the challenge will have you exclaiming a triumphant “Wahoo!”

Buy From: Super Mario Bros World 1-1 is available from Amazon, GameStop, and Walmart for $10.99. Super Mario Bros. World 1-2 Welcome to Warp Zone is available from Amazon and Entertainment Earth for $14.99.

Disclosure: Puzzles provided to VGBlogger.com for review consideration by USAopoly.

Now for the final reveal!

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!