Super Mario Bros. 2…Christmas edition! (NES)
Merry Christmas from Satoshi Matrix!
It’s Christmas and what better game to review than….Super Mario Bros. 2 – Christmas edition! This graphics hack of the original NES version of Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA) is just the game to focus on for the holiday spirit as it’s just as much fun as the regular game. In fact, it is the regular game! Chances are you’ve all played this one at one time or another, but how does it hold up today? Ho ho ho, I’m glad you asked! Read on and discover!
Mario goes to sleep and soon finds himself in the strange land of Subcon, where strange creatures and abound, yet Bowser and his koopa troops are strangely absent. Mario meets up with his brother Luigi, his friend Toad, and the Princess and sets out to explore this strange land.
Super Mario Bros. 2 is a major improvement over the first Super Mario Bros. The sprites are far more detailed and the game itself is both more complex and longer. While backgrounds are still mostly static, there are now running waterfalls, animated vegetable leaves and a huge cast of memorable enemies.
Produced once again by the master Nintendo composer Koji Kondo, Super Mario Bros. 2, yet again features a legendary iconic soundtrack that’s nearly as universally reconizable as the Super Mario Bros. 1 overworld theme. Like Mario 1, there’s only a handful of tracks in total including the Title, Overworld, Caves, Boss Battle, Character Select and Ending, but each are so well done yet simple once you hear them you’ll never ever forget them.
Speaking of unforgettable, time for you to get this catchy remix stuck in your head. Thank me later.
In the NES version is when you press Start to pause the game, the melody continues but both square wave channels are muted, leaving only the sexy triangle wave and noise channels. I wish more NES games had done this as its a really cool effect.
While yes, Mario 2 is again a platformer like Super Mario Bros. 1, it shares little in common with it other than that. First of all, you can now play as one of four different characters, each with strengths and weaknesses. Mario is the most well rounded character with standard jumping and standard strength.. His brother Luigi can jump much higher and longer than Mario, but is more difficult to control in air. Toad can’t jump high at all, but can pick things up at nearly twice the speed of the others. Princess Toadstool has only average jumps and takes the longest time to pick things up, but she can actually float in the air for one and a half seconds making her a great choice for some tricky stages.
The other major difference is the way you defeat enemies this time is not by jumping on them, but instead by throwing something at them! There’s also no timer in this game. The gameplay dynamic of SMB2 revolves around picking vegetables. Vegetables most of the time are simple projectiles that can be tossed to defeat enemies, but occasionally there’s a hidden potion that when thrown, will turn into a door to subspace. In this realm, vegetables picked turn into coins and life-up mushrooms can be found.
Life-up mushrooms give an extra hit point, allowing them to to be hit three times before dying. They can even be chained to allow for up to four hits before death! No other Mario platformer has ever adopted this system, which is a real shame. These mushrooms are only in specific points in subspace, and finding them can be a real challenge as the game progresses.
Each stage has a boss at the end, which also must be defeated with projectiles, either of your own or by tossing enemy attacks right back at them. After each stage, you are presented with a slot machine that uses all the coins obtained in subspace. This mini-game is for extra lives, which you’ll be needing a lot of throughout the game.
D-pad: Movement; Up to enter doors, hold down to charge for a super jump
B: Pick up an object, throw an object
Select: No function
The original version of Super Mario Bros. 2 has absolutely no passwords, let alone saves. The whole game has to be completed in one sitting, or else you’ll have to leave your Nintendo on between play sessions. There are a series of three lives and two continues, meaning without picking up extra lives along the way in the slot machine mini game, you only have nine lives to beat the whole game!
Later versions, especially Super Mario Advance, would greatly increase the number of extra lives you can obtain as well as add in a save feature, drastically reducing the game’s frustration, but not it’s difficulty.
No matter how you slice it, some of the stages in Mario 2 are of the oldschool kind of challenge that the NES is known for, with plenty of bottomless pits, spikes, enemies, and timed jumps. It’s not so hard the average player will never complete it, but it does nevertheless require some devotion,
Availability & Price
Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of the most common NES games and shouldn’t to too difficult to find at any given store that sells retro games. Expect to pay between $5-10 for an NES cart. It’s also remade on the SNES and now Wii Super Mario All Stars collections, and was remade again for the GBA’s launch title, Super Mario Advance. Oh, and the NES version is also on the Wii Virtual Console.
Okay, everyone and their mother knows the history of Super Mario Bros. 2 by this point, but I feel I would be remiss to not include at least an abridged version. If you know all this like the back of your hand feel free to scroll down and read the rest.
Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES is not the same game Japan knows as Super Mario Bros. 2. In Japan, Super Mario Bros. 2 was released for the ill-fated Famicom Disk System in 1986. The sequel to one of the most popular games of all was essentially the same game retooled with a new ground tile, a wind effect and made significantly more difficult, almost absurdly so. It shares much in common with most typical NES rom hacks you’ll find.
The following year, Japanese television giant Fuji TV ran a campaign to promote its programming called Yume Kōjō ’87. In a partnership deal with Nintendo, a platformer game was devloped entitled Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panikku or Dream Factory: Heart-pounding Panic in English, or more commonly just Doki Doki Panic. The game featured an exotic Arabian family who were the mascots of the Yume Kōjō ’87 promotion.
When the NES was starting to pick up steam in North America and Super Mario Bros. was a hot seller, Nintendo of America’s Howard Phillips was a strong opponent to localizing Super Mario Bros. 2 as he rightfully felt it was too difficult for American children and didn’t bring enough new to the table as it was just a glorified hack of the original masterpiece.
Instead, Phillips suggested Doki Doki Panic be translated and westernized. The sprites for many of the characters were changed to feature Mario characters, a new boss was added and all reference to the Yume Kōjō ’87 event was removed. When the game arrived in America under the title Super Mario Bros. 2, nearly everyone was none the wiser. As Mario 2 had been made for American audiences, the later Japanese Famicom release was called Super Mario Bros. USA.
Several years later in 1993, Nintendo released enhanced remakes of both versions of Super Mario Bros. 2 in the Super Mario All-Stars collection, changing the title of the Japanese version of the game to Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels. Even today, that’s still what most people refer the original Super Mario Bros. 2 as.
Sit back and relax, it’s time to be trasported back to a time when Nintendo made good commericials!
Oh by I just cant wait to play some SUPER MERRY-O BROS. 2!
- Great looking sprites and appealing backgrounds
- Classic NES gameplay and yes, difficulty
- Legendary Koji Kondo soundtrack
- No passwords, only two continues.
- So different from other Mario games it might put you off at first
- Given the difficulty, it has the weakest lasting appeal of all the Mario games I can think of
Oh and here’s some brentalfloss awesomeness.
Platform: NES/Famicom, remade on SNES/SFC GBA, ported to Wii
Original Release Dates: September 1, 1988
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Also from the developer: Nearly every Mario, Zelda and F-Zero game ever made
Game Length: ~3 hours
Buy, rent or skip: Buy if you can, pirate if you must, but damnit, just play it!