Mario Monday - Super Mario Brothers 2 (The Lost Levels)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mario Monday continues with a look at Super Mario Brothers 2. In fact this week and next week will combine to cover the entire story of Super Mario Brothers 2. Today though we take a look at the original sequel to Super Mario Brothers.

Super Mario Brothers helped the Nintendo Entertainment System take the United States by storm in 1985. The game was so popular that Nintendo of America felt pressure to bring a sequel to the USA as quickly as possible. In Japan Nintendo fans were already enjoying a direct sequel of the smash hit. Sadly, the Nintendo fans in the United States would not get a chance to play the rightful sequel until 1993 as part of a Super Nintendo compilation, Super Mario All Stars.

Super Mario Brothers 2, commonly referred to in the United States as The Lost Levels, takes the original game play and graphics of its predecessor and cranks it up a notch. The levels and difficulty levels were drastically changed with eight new levels to master. For the hardcore Mario players, if you could beat the game eight straight times you were rewarded with four bonus levels to attempt. What's more, if a gamer completed the eight original levels without utilizing any warp zones you could access the special level nine, which was a bonus level where the designers must have been on drugs, evidenced by the bizarre physics and layouts.

Luigi returns of course, but Super Mario Brothers 2 is a one player game. When starting the game the player has a choice of playing as Mario or Luigi. Luigi is first given the ability to jump higher than his brother, but he also has more trouble stopping when running. These are traits that would later be represented by Luigi in future games. Some feel that Luigi is a better character to use in the game.

The enemies from the original Super Mario Brothers all return with no new foes to be introduced. Bowser is still King of the Koopas and he has captured Princess Peach and kept her hidden in his castle. This time around though the baddies are tougher for Mario and more abundant. Koopa Troopas and Goombas will appear in water stages and Bloopers and Cheep Cheeps will be found floating in the air in more stages. Piranha Plants now come in two shades, red and green. Red piranha plants are not as shy as their green versions and do not care if the Mario brothers are standing on their pipe or next to it. They will pop their heads out regardless.

Making things more difficult for Mario was the addition of the poisonous mushroom. Later depicted as a purple mushroom in many games it was hard at first to distinguish the difference between the super mushroom, the 1-up mushroom and the dreaded poisonous mushroom. The poisonous mushroom was a darker shade than the super mushroom power up, but unless you read the instructions before playing you likely discovered that unfortunate distinction the hard way.

The poisonous mushrooms were a darker shade,
making things confusing at first.

As if avoiding the plethora of Koopa baddies and the poisonous mushroom were not enough for Mario and Luigi to overcome, the programmers of the game decided to have even more fun with the warp zones. Warp zones are generally known to help gamers out by skipping ahead a level, two levels, three levels or more. In the original Super Mario Brothers 2 though some warp zones are known to take Mario backwards, transporting him to a level he has already mastered.

When released in Japan the game was available on the Famicom Disk System rather than the traditional cartridge that is often associated with Nintendo games. The Disk System never had a US equivalent, although many games that were popular on the Disk System were ported to cartridge form in the US.

The game is painfully hard at times, but if you are a seasoned Mario player you know that right off the bat in this game there is an opportunity to rack up as many reserve Marios you may need...

As mentioned earlier, this original version of Super Mario Brothers 2 failed to release in the United States on the NES. Nintendo of America felt the game was too hard for its base. Feeling the need to release something Nintendo found an obscure Japanese game, did some graphic hacking and published what the United States would think was Super Mario Brothers 2.

More on that next week.

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