Game Review: Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 2

Super Mario Bros 2 Title Screen

  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Released: September 1988
  • Game Type: Adventure
  • Players: 1
  • Product Number: NES-MW-USA
  • Rarity: D (Common)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 9

    Box Scan
    Super Mario Bros. 2 Screen 1 Super Mario Bros. 2 Screen 2

    With Super Mario Bros ruling the video game world, Nintendo knew that NESers would soon be clamoring for a sequel. So in the fall of 1988 Super Mario Bros. 2 hit the shelves and Nintendo fans flocked to it, even though the game was very different and nothing like the original. A version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was produced in Japan that kept the gameplay of SMB1, but look almost the same, was only one player and much more difficult. The game was never released outside of Japan, and reportedly Nintendo of America chairman Howard Lincoln personally despised the Japanese sequel, stating that the game's frustrating levels of difficulty amounted to a total rejection of everything that had made Super Mario Bros. fun and popular. So rather than risk alienating the NES population (smart move IMHO), NoA took a Japanese Famicom title called Doki Doki Panic, changed some of the graphics around, added a few gameplay upgrades, and here we have the result. It still turned out to be a hit, and even graced the cover of the very first issue of Nintendo Power. Many debate on whether it should be accepted as a "real" Mario Bros. game, but it still turns out to be another great release from Nintendo.

    Even the game's storyline differs from the other chapters. One night, our hero Mario is having a dream about a staircase in a mountain cave. After climing the top, Mario finds a door leading to another world. He opens it and finds the magical dream world of Sub-con, and a voice calls out to him and tells him about how the evil Wart is taking over their world, asking for his help. The next morning, Mario and his friends Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Toad explore a nearby mountain and find a staircase, just like in Mario's dream. They open the door on top and they find exactly what Mario saw in his dream. So Mario and company decide to head out into the World of Dreams and take down Wart's evil empire.

    This game has 20 levels spread across seven worlds, and the gameplay works very differently than in the first title. Before each level you can pick which character you wish to play as. Each one has his or her strengths and weaknesses: Mario is the most well rounded, Luigi can jump the highest and farthest, the Princess can float in the air for 1.5 seconds, and Toad can run the fastest and is the quickest at pulling up grass. Each stage is populated with unusual enemies like ShyGuys, Beezos, Snifits, and many others. Instead of merely stomping on enemies to defeat them, your main weapons are vegetables, which are buried in the ground. When you come across a patch of grass, you pluck it to pick up vegetables, then toss them at the enemies. You can also pick up most enemies and toss them as projectiles to knock out foes. Other items you can pull up included 1-ups, bombs, and turtle shells. You also have a life meter, which starts a 2 HP and can be extended. To do this you have to find a potion, then throw it to make a door that goes into SubSpace. There (if you 've deployed the potion in the right spot) you'll find a mushroom that'll give you another HP, and you can pull up the grass here for coins. However you lose HP if you get hit, and if you go down to 1 HP, your character will shrink.

    However the end of each area is guarded by a mini-boss (usually Birdo), and at the end of every third stage you do battle with a bigger boss, such as Mouser and TriClyde. Somehow you have to figure out a way to defeat them to move on in your quest. After you complete each area you get to go to a bonus round where you can win extra lives in a slot machine. Then you go to the next level, and you get a choice of staying with the same character or switching to one of the other heroes. Eventually at the end you'll have to do battle with Wart himself.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    The graphics are actually very good, definelty better than the original. The characters and enemies are nicely drawn and have some good details (Here you can see that Luigi is taller than Mario). Many of the sprites also sport some nice animation, like the grass and cheeries swaying in the wind, the bubbles in the SubSpace potion, and even an enemy's reaction to being picked up by you. The stages themselves are colorful and varied, unlike the previous game's dreary levels. As far as sound goes, there's only a handful of background tunes, but they are nice to listen to, especially the underground theme and the boss theme. The sound effects aren't much but they work for the most part.

    The game's controls work very well for the most part. Mario and the others have a variety of moves at their disposal, and they can be mastered in a very short time. When you jump you can also change your character's direction in mid-air, giving you the ability to pull off some interesting feats. The one downside is that playing as Luigi is difficult, since he's hard to control with enough accuracy.

    Challenge & Playability:
    Although SMB 2 doesn't have the same gameplay as the original or SMB3 after it, that doesn't mean it's terrible. Quite the opposite. The gameplay in this cart is very fun and addicting, and it never gets old, eve after you beat it. The fact that you can choose which character you control through the stage adds some strategy as well; it's up to you to decide which character works best for each level. The game also has a pretty good challenge level. It's not too difficult to get past each area, but some parts will tax you. Plus you only get two continues to make it through the whole game, each of which starts you at the first stage of each world. Luckily it's not too tough to get many extra lives, which helps balance it out. Finally after you beat Wart, you get an unusual and original ending sequence that needs to be seen to believed.

    Even though Super Mario Bros. 2 may not quite measure up to the awesome title that was SMB3, it's still a great game. The graphics are great, the sounds are okay, and everything else about this game pak is top-notch. The gameplay is a nice change of pace and never gets old, even after you've seen the classic ending. Some may scoff at Nintendo of America's decision to go with this conversion instead of the Japanese SMB2, but in my view the trade-off worked and we got the superior game. It may be the odd man out in the series, but Super Mario Bros. 2 proves to be a game that still does the Mario franchise proud.

    This version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was later released in Japan, but since they already had a SMB2 there, this game was renamed Super Mario USA.

    - Review posted on September 25, 2006