Super Mario Brothers 2 on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) - Good Video Games
Super Mario Bros. 2 on the Nintendo Entertainment System is the red headed step child of the Mario universe. It still stands out from all the rest of the games like a sore thumb. It’s not a bad game, it’s just very different. A bad game would be Mario Is Missing. That game was just stupid. Luigi in an educational game with a time machine? Ugh.
Well, if you weren’t aware, Super Mario Brothers 2 on the NES is actually a game called Doki Doki Panic that was only released in Japan. They just changed out the sprites for characters from the first Mario game. Well, Super Mario Brothers was actually the second Mario game, but you get the idea. Anyway, so what did they get in Japan for Mario 2? They got a game very similar to the original Super Mario game. It was a lot harder, though.
Get This Awesome Mario Shirt Right Now
Eventually, Nintendo released the Japanese version of Super Mario Brothers 2 on the SNES Cartridge called Mario Allstars. It was called The Lost Levels though, so most kids didn’t know that it was the Japanese version of Mario 2. I remember seeing a Japanese kid playing it on Television once, so I knew it existed and that it looked like the original.
Right, so the game that we got was really Doki Doki Panic. That’s why nothing in the second U.S. version makes any sense. Mario killing bees, a strange flying mask, Shy Guys, and killing Birdo then walking into some hawk's open mouth? They explain it all in the intro that Mario was dreaming about all this crap, then woke up. He opened some weird door outside (apparently Mario takes too many prescription sleeping aids), and the crazy, makes-no-sense world from his dream was spread before him. Spoiler alert – at the end of the game, it’s revealed that he’s still dreaming. How clever.
We Wanted This Thing Badly
The game is actually good. It was good enough that I begged my parents for the game when it came out around my birthday. Every kid in the US was salivating over its release, though. Nintendo could have slapped a Super Mario 2 sticker on a potato and marketed it to us kids. The game could have been a pixilated portrait of Mario taking a painful crap after too much Applebee’s, and we would have still wanted it. It was the sequel to the then undisputed greatest video game ever made. We needed it.
I’m sure a lot of kids were as confused as I was about the game world of Mario 2, but the game itself was very solid. The graphics were great. The music was superb. It was a challenging and long game – clocking in at 7 worlds and 20 levels. It was harder to find the warp areas too, so this game was basically the first Mario game that took real skill to beat. By the by, I always thought that the warp whistles in Mario 3 and the warp zones in the first Mario game were a little cheesy. You could beat the third game in around 10 minutes, and there are speed runs of the original Mario game that clock in at less than 5 minutes.
Super Mario Bros. 2 Gameplay
You Know You Want This Official Mario Plush
Stage Select - An Interesting Idea Forced Into The Game Because It Was Part of Doki Doki Panic
It was interesting that the second game had different playable characters with different qualities – a design characteristic that might have been desirable in other games like Mario 3 and Super Mario World. Mario was a jack of all trades character, having decent stats in everything but nothing particularly special. In other words, this is the only Mario game I can think of where nobody wants to actually play as Mario. Luigi was able to jump really high like he was on the moon or something. It looked really stupid, to be honest. Why did he have to move his feet at a thousand miles per hour as he jumped? Toad was really fast and picked up stuff fast, but his jump sucked. Princess Peach had crappy abilities for the most part, but she could float when she jumped. It was so unique that I think I pretty much always played with her.
I know a lot of people used Toad because being able to pick up things is very important. You had to pick up enemies in order to kill other enemies – a strange choice that is pretty much unparalleled in the old school games. Mario games introduced the idea of jumping on stuff in order to kill it, but this game got rid of that basic idea. Mario Bros. 2 was very stingy with its power ups. You started as “Super Mario” (or I guess Super Toad, etc.) and became tiny when you got hit the first time. You could also get power ups in that weird photo-negative or dark world thing that you accessed by throwing a laboratory beaker filled with red blood onto the ground. Does this sound completely absurd when you read it? The fact that you know it’s the truth probably makes that last sentence seem less insane. Anyone who hasn't played this game probably thinks I'm psychotic now.
Stingy Power Up System
The power up system was the biggest flaw with Mario 2, in my opinion. You had to be very precise in the midst of a relentlessly unforgiving game. That sucked, because the game was an awful lot of fun. It doesn't feel like it should have been the sequel to Mario now, but back then it was the only other Mario game that we had. We were accepting of it, and we didn’t know that Nintendo had taken a big old dump all over America.
They didn’t release the actual Mario 2 (The Lost Levels SNES version) because it was “too hard for Americans.” To make matters worse, it seems that the actual Mario 2 in Japan was released on a floppy disk addon to the Famicom (the Japanese Version of the NES), making it even rarer than other cartridge-style games. Also, more susceptible to decay. Those old NES cartridges will still work after getting run over by a car, pooped on over and over inside a porta potty, and cooked in an oven at 300 degrees. They’re crazy durable like that.
Some Hated It
A lot of people don’t like Super Mario Brothers 2, and I don’t blame them. Doki Doki Panic was a decent game, and it was developed by the guy who made the original Mario game. It even used the same engine that they used to make Mario 3 with – but it was obviously just a way to calm people down while they developed the milestones that were Super Mario Brothers 3 and the SNES Super Mario World.
But was it really necessary to do this? It might surprise you to learn that Super Mario Bros. 3 was released in Japan at the same time that they release the Doki Doki Panic version of SM Bros. 2 in the U.S.! Nintendo was obviously just being greedy, and trying to squeak out every possible dime from Mario that they could.
Mario 3 release in Japan: October 23, 1988.
Mario 2 “Doki Doki” release in the US: October 10, 1988.
I guess they coded Mario 3 in about 23 days, because we should have gotten Mario 3! We had to wait until like 1990 to get it! What the heck, Nintendo?
Pretty crazy, eh? Oh well. Mario 2 was a good game – just nutty. It didn’t have any major flaws, as could be expected from the people who brought you the first game. The only thing that stands out in the whole issue is the fact that the Japanese thought their version of Mario 2 was too difficult for Americans. I think this Doki Doki game is actually a lot harder to finish than the Japanese version of Mario 2. I’ve never beaten the American Mario 2, despite the fact that I owned it. I rarely got past world 4. Maybe I would find the game easier if I played it nowadays. I know I’ve gotten a lot further through the Japanese version of Mario 2, so I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this. The US version of Mario 2 just seems kinda long and arduous compared to other Mario games – and not in a fun way like Mario 3 is.
All in all, it’s a solid game. Just really weird.
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