Published on July 16th, 2012 | by Nichomaxwell1
A Review of the ACTUAL Super Mario Bros. 2 (or, rather, Super Mario Bros. 1 on Steroids)
Year: 1985 // System: Famicom Disk System // Publisher & Developer: Nintendo // Creator: Shigeru Miyamoto // Genre: Platformer
>>>Continuing on with Japanese-exclusive games released for the Famicom systems, we stumble upon something of a mind boggler. Something that really characterizes the mentality of Nintendo of America back in the day and strikes us as an insult to us gamers should this title have been withheld from us today.
The game I’m taking about is none other than the direct sequel to the smash hit Super Mario Bros, and no, whether you want to believe it or not, it’s not this game…
The ACTUAL sequel to Super Mario Bros was released one year later in Japan. Sales were strong enough and Mario had made quite an impact on the Famicom that it seemed a no brainer for the humble geniuses at Nintendo to return to their labs and pump out another round of levels, all for the sake of generating a honest buck.
The end creation was more of the same. In fact, the striking similarities between the first two SMB titles put Golden Axe II to shame! SMB 2 makes GAII look like a true sequel (NOTE: It really wasn’t)
Super Mario Bros 2 for the Famicom, known to us in the states by its Wii Virtual Console release name The Lost Levels, pits the player against a renovated Mushroom Kingdom. Game play is the same, features are pretty much the same, and level progression is somewhat the same (each world is 4 segments long, with each of the first eight worlds culminating in a Koopa Castle stage). That’s not saying there weren’t any new additions, however. Although backdrops and music were both recycled from the original, your average level looked like this:
It was a typical level from the first world, but far more random, and structured so that timing your jumps and figuring out aerial patterns were key to survival. There was also a new power-up!
Err, sorry…I meant “power-DOWN,” but it IS an addition, to say the least!
Granted, while power-ups are generally meant to boost your character and therefore make him/her more fun to play, SMB 2 for the Famicom Disk System set its sights on giving you a fiercer challenge than what the first one provided. Granted, the original Super Mario Bros remains a formidable opponent to overcome, even in today’s over-saturated video game market of jaw-dropping graphics and one-note FPS shooters and open-world explorers. SMB 2 was, in its very essence, Super Mario Bros: Hard Mode. Heck, some of you could say this was the original “hack”…but then again, you can’t call it a hack if the designers of the original version were the ones who made this game…but given modern day gamers’ obsessions with ROM-hacks today, the SMB sequel seems like that granddaddy title that said to all designers who some day dreamed of making their own fan games, “Yes, you can take an original game engine, move things around, and call it a new game….and people will play it.” Well said, Super Mario Bros 2 for the FDS. Well said.
But in spite of giving Japanese players more of what they asked for (a.k.a. the Super Mario experiences), Nintendo of America examined this title and made the executive decision to not sell it in the States because they deemed the game “too difficult for Americans.” Wow…way to have confidence in us, NoA! All kidding aside, the direct sequel was not in fact the follow-up that the developers at Nintendo had in mind for the original. The original prototype, eventually released in something of an incomplete state as Doki Doki Panic, was reworked due to a licensing arrangement. Because the actual sequel was nothing more than a heavily moderated version of the first game, and they wanted to keep American consumers invested in the series, Nintendo of America ended up contracting the game designers of D.D.P. in Japan to finish the game and re-release it as Super Mario Bros. 2 in North America.
Okay, so, the lesson here is that Miayamoto intended Doki Doki Panic to beSuper Mario Bros 2,but instead updated the first game to release it as the sequel. But then North America jumps in and says, “NO! YOU MAKE REAL SEQUEL REAL OVER HERE! WE NO SETTLE FOR SECOND-CLASS GAME!” Huh. Sometimes, all it takes is a push from a greedy organization with a heavy hand on censorship.
But it’s hard to blame NoA in this case. Super Mario Bros 2 (NA) turned out to be a pretty successful game with plenty of new game play features and modes (Choose from one of four characters, each one playing a little differently from the other? Whyyyyyy not?). True, because it’s a reorganized version of another game (which was supposed to be SMB 2, anyway), it’s seen as that middle child between the first and third in the series, but it’s held up today as a good, if not great, game.
The direct sequel, on the other hand, plays just like the original, except you better get used to perfecting your trigger fingers and sliding into a crouch.Although this is a harder game, the difficulty isn’t obscene. Sure, it’s a bit uninspired (using the same bosses and enemies all over again), but the stages are planned out well. Given this was Miyamoto’s “back-up plan” for the sequel, he did a masterful job in reorganizing the levels to reflect a far more challenging experience. Basically, if you loved the first game to death, then you’re going to get quite a kick out of this one. There’s a reason it’s called the Lost Levels in North America…they’re the dream stages for the hardcore SMB fan that has been itching for the original’s flavor with a beefed up obstacle course.
Challenge: 9/10:…what? This is the score it deserves! Yes, Super Mario Bros. 2 is a hard game, but it’s not impossible, NOR is it even the hardest game for the Famicom/NES! This is a walk in the park compared to Battletoads! “This game is too difficult for Americans?” Puh-lease! Fans of the original, rejoice in the harder placement of enemies, greater emphasis on timing, and watch out for the water!!! The only fallacy is that the game starts off difficult. Miayamoto was probably expecting you to have played the first game before taking on the second. It’s true that if this were to be your first exposure to the series, then you’d might be taken aback a little.
Handling: 10/10: It’s the same Rolls Royce, through-and-through. The Rolls Royce is Mario, by the way. Manipulating his momentum is the key to achieving success in SMB, and here you’re expected to have mastered this skill when taking on the second game.
Innovation: 7/10: Yeah…it’s not so much Super Mario Bros 2 as it is Super Mario Bros 2.0. The designers do get props, however, for their remixed Level 9 and for introducing the poison mushroom which makes the game much harder. Also, upside down pipes are quite the sight in this game.
Core Experience: 7/10: Music and appearance are both solid for 1985…but they’re recycled from SMB with the exception of new background sprites (ground is less blocky and more rocky). You’ve got the same enemies, although they’re a little more randomly placed as if to amp up the wackiness of the creators’ imaginations… Oh, and I appreciated that the sequel possessed a REAL ENDING! Of course, that’s before they threw you into another magical world…ohhhh Princess Toadstool, such a toad you are…
OVERALL: 8.3/Great: Perhaps it emulated the original’s material a bit TOO closely, but all-in-all, a worthy title of your time if you’re an aficionado of the Super Mario Bros series.