We've already seen Animal Crossing Clock released on the DSiWare service, so a Mario Clock was a foregone conclusion. Not much has changed really; Nintendo has basically taken the very same clock functions available in the Animal Crossing Clock application and tossed in a Super Mario Bros. theme over the whole thing. While the entire package still feels a bit useless, the developers have at least included a little user-interaction this time to give the application a little more of a fun factor. But is it enough to make it worth your 200 Nintendo Points?
Much like Animal Crossing Clock, you have to launch the Mario Clock application in order to make use of it. This isn't a theme that you can apply over your DSi menu, but instead acts as a fully-functioning program just like anything else you download on the DSi Shop. This is really the application's biggest downfall, as it's tough to sell a clock application when there's already a clock built into the DSi menu when you first boot up your DSi system.
The clock itself is fairly basic. You can view the clock on the top screen of your DSi system in either an analog or digital presentation. The analog clock has a bit more personality to it, but both are equally functional in their own unique way, and you'll even get the date and day of the week displayed as well. In the background you'll see various levels of Super Mario Bros. being played out. When the clock is active, Mario will constantly walk to the right, just as he would in the real game if you were controlling him: it's here that your interaction comes into play.
While you can't stop Mario or Luigi, you can make them run using the "B" button and jump with the "A" button. Your main goal in this little mini-game of sorts is to collect coins, and occasionally you'll come across power-ups that can add to the fun a bit: the good old Mushroom is still in force and will cause Mario to grow in size. Consequently, picking up another mushroom will cause the character to return to normal size, and there's even a POW block from the original Mario Bros. arcade game that will knock all of the numbers off the clock face for a brief period of time.
Ultimately, it's all about grabbing coins and each time you grab 100 coins, a Mario or Luigi icon will appear on one of the numbers on the clock. If you can manage to rack up 1200 coins, 100 for each hour on the clock, you'll be presented with a nice little intermission in which Mario will reach the princess in Bowser's castle complete with the same authentic tune from the original Super Mario Bros. game. Of course then you'll get to start the process all over again with a quick press of the "B" button.
To mix things up, every 15 minutes the level will change to give you something new to look at for a while, and at the top of each hour Mario will reach the little flagpole spot at the end of the level, and you'll get the catchy end of level tune played along with a display of the traditional Super Mario Bros. fireworks. The number of fireworks that explode correspond to the current time, so if it's 7 o'clock, you'll get 7 firework explosions and so on.
There's also an alarm function that can be set. You can set up to three alarms, and you'll even have a few options and settings that can be applied to each of these alarms as well. You can choose from three different tunes that include the standard Super Mario Bros. music, the star power-up tune, and even the underwater musical piece from the original game. These alarms will even sound with the lid of your DSi system closed and the game in sleep mode, so keep that in mind when setting your alarms.
You can even mix and match them between the various alarms you set, and thankfully each alarm also comes with a Snooze setting that can be applied. While the regular alarm will sound for five minutes, a snooze setting will cause the alarm to sound for only one minute and then snooze for the remaining four minutes before sounding off again. During the sounding of the alarm, you'll even get a nice little Super Mario Bros. pixel art show on the top screen for your viewing pleasure. You can stop the alarm at any time by simply pressing any button or tapping the DSi touchscreen.
It's tough to criticize anything that features our beloved Mario, but as with the previous clock applications for the DSi you have to wonder what the point is in releasing a separate clock program, especially one that has to be launched in order to be used when there's a perfectly suitable clock on the DSi main menu that pops up as soon as you start up your DSi system. Sure, the Mario theme is cool and the ability to actually have some interaction with the experience makes it a bit more practical than the Animal Crossing Clock, but ultimately it's still not enough. Maybe at some point Nintendo will wise up and allow DSi owners to put these themed clocks on their DSi main menu screen, but until then, you'd be better off using the 200 Nintendo Points for something a bit more useful and fun.