Renowned Classics: Super Mario Bros 2

June 28th, 2010 -

This is MADNESS! 

I was a Nintendo kid growing up. I’ve played and completed lots of games. One of them that had eluded me was Super Mario Bros 2. The furthest I remember ever getting in this game is world 2-1. Not that I couldn’t beat it, I was just into other games at the time, and since the game took such a dramatically different spin on Mario, I just couldn’t get into it. So for the sake of science and the blog, I am going to play from start to finish Super Mario Bros 2 and give it a proper review.

First of all, everyone has heard of or played this game. BUT! What you may not know is that this isn’t a Mario game at all. Mario Bros 2 was originally “Doki Doki Panic” in Japan. The game was modified and ported to the US as Super Mario Bros 2. The original Super Mario Bros 2 was deemed to be too difficult and felt like a rehash of the first game, so Nintendo of America decided that this would be more successful then the latter. I won’t go into much more detail than that; however, if I just blew your mind and you want to know more, check out the Wiki page HERE.
The games story is as follows;

When Mario opened a door after climbing a long stair in his dream, another world spread before him and he heard a voice call for help to be freed from a spell. After awakening, Mario went to a cave nearby and to his surprise he saw exactly what he saw in his dream….

Push Start Button

So, let me get this straight. In order to justify that all the characters, places, and items are different in this game than we understand them to be in a Mario game – they tell us that it’s all a dream. But actually, it’s not a dream – it’s really another world. However, when you beat the game, you find out it’s a dream about having a dream but thinking it’s not a dream only to find out that it’s really a dream… wait… sorry, my face just exploded.

You see, I had always thought that Mario 1 was a “Mushrooms Trip” that he was on, and 2 was more of an Acid trip. Then, when he drinks the potions or “bong water”, he returns (temporarily) to the mushroom trip until the effects wear off. Maybe that’s just me…

This was a really strange game, but it paved the way for features we are familiar with today. Picking up items was a first for 2, and it returned in many other Mario games, including the recently released New Super Mario Bros Wii. Aside from innovating gameplay for future Mario games, this has to have the most catchy soundtrack of all the Mario games. If anyone remembers anything from Mario 2, it’s the theme song, which can be heard HERE. I’m not sure what it is about this song, but it always makes me smile; even when I’m failing over and over and over and over and over again…
Graphics took a significant improvement over the first game. However, the colors made the game look slightly strange; the overall design of these sprites were carried forward to Mario 3. I really enjoyed the different environments, and I think that yet again this paved the way for future Mario games with the diversity of level design. Collecting cherries and throwing enemies does feel kind of strange in a Mario game, but it’s nice that they put in a few familiar elements to remind you that this is in fact Mario. When you use a potion, a door appears. When you step through said door, the classic Mario 1 theme starts – and instead of pulling vegetables out of the ground, you pull coins. These coins can be used for a slot machine mini game after each level. This was also a feature that was carried forward to later Mario games.

FUCK THIS GAME… This game is hard. All Mario games are hard in their own right, but this one is difficult due to shoddy game design. I’m not really sure why it was necessary to have the world wrap feature on the edges of the screen, but it makes for some confusing levels and boss battles. I understand that Mario Bros the arcade game had world wrap, but this is in a different context. There were many occasions where an enemy that was no where near me walked through the wall and appeared on the other side catching me off guard because I was paying attention to the one next to me. Or the flowers that shoot fire would sh
oot a fireball, I would dodge it, but the fire went through the wall and caught me on the other side.
Why can I jump up through the ground, but to go down I have to dig? Towards the end of the game this gameplay mechanic was used in clever ways to force you not to jump. However, in other earlier levels, this just caused more confusion than strategy. Mario has a life gauge? I never fully understood how exactly this worked. I would get hit by something and I would lose a red egg shaped circle. If I lost them all I would shrink. Other times I would get hit and just shrink; maybe different enemies have different strength attacks? I don’t know, but I could have sworn that I was attacked by the same enemy that only dealt a 1 egg blow, but then instantly shrank me.
Final Verdict:
I’m not really sure how to go about giving this a final verdict. Given the different circumstances, the verdict would be different. If it was 1988 I would probably say Rent. If the game was still for sale on a cartridge and people still played NES games (and the WiiWare didn’t exist), I would say Buy because of the influence the game has had on other Mario games. As of today, you can download and play this game for free (via an emulator) on most Smart Phones, PC’s, Mac’s, Hacked PSP’s, Hacked DS’s, Hacked Wii… the list goes on. With that in mind, I would say the easiest way is to Acquire it. All in all, it really doesn’t matter how you get a hold of this game. If you consider yourself to be a fan of Mario games, you really need to play through this and understand how much this last minute “knock off” game changed the way we play Mario today.

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