TL;DR: just go down to the overall section, sums it up pretty nicely
Alright, its time for an unpopular opinion: Super Mario Bros 2 is the best of the original 4 Super Mario Bros games, and I think I have a valid reason why. Obviously I'll explain this in more detail later in the essay (if you want to call it that.) Yes, I know it's just a reskinned version of the game Doki Doki literature clu-er, Panic. And yes, this game only exists at all because of the fact that the ACTUAL Super Mario Bros 2 (the one that would later be called “The Lost Levels) was deemed “too hard” for Western audiences. So technically, is this even a Mario game then? Like imagine if Nintendo took the original Super Mario Bros and just put Link in as Mario, would it still be a Mario game or would it now be a Legend of Zelda game? There are tons of things to ponder about this game, and I'm gonna ponder them. Here are my thoughts on Super Mario Bros 2.
If you remember my thoughts on the first Super Mario Bros, you probably remember me saying that my first time playing the original 3 Super Mario Bros games was when my parents got them for me on the Wiishop. So there's pretty much the beginning of my nostalgic connection to this one. If you've ever played this game you'd know that it's pretty different to the other 3 Super Mario Bros games for various reasons, and I guess you could say that that's what drove me to it. I've always enjoyed boss battles as well, and this game has plenty, so that also helped. I don't know if you could tell by the writing, but my nostalgia of this game is a tad bit stronger than the others so far
The story centres around Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad trying to free the land of Subcon from Warts control. The player takes on the role of Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad.
SPOILERS WARNING: Yes, at the end of the game its revealed that this is all a dream. Im not 100% sure how popular the “it was a dream” cliche was back then, but I know that especially today, that would be a kinda disappointing ending for a game like this. But its a Mario game, did you really expect your hard work to pay off for the stories sake?
Undoubtedly, this is where the game differs the most from the other 3 games.
From the very first moment, the player is asked to choose between 4 different main characters, Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad. With each of them having their own special abilities
Mario is an average joe, no upsides, but most importantly no downsides either. Luigi can jump higher but his traction is slower. Toad can run faster but his jumps are shorter. Peach can hover in midair for a little while but takes longer to pull things out of the ground
It's very uncommon, especially back then, for a Mario character to have different stats based on who the player plays as. I don't even think Super Mario Kart had that ability. However more often than not, I felt myself going back to Peach. Her hover is just a tad bit overpowered in this game in my opinion.
The game consists of 6 main worlds with 3 levels each. Then a 7th world with only 2 levels. Not only is it missing an entire world from the previous 2 games, but each world has one less level as well. Its made up for however by each level packing a lot more into it than the previous 2 games did. Personally, I prefer this method a lot more, as it allows a lot more ideas to be thrown into a level.
The main goal of each level is to get to the end and then acquire a crystal thats required to unlock the door to the next level. The crystal is typically guarded by Birdo. She must be defeated in order to beat the level. More on her later.
Every third level as well as the second level in world 7 has a world boss that acts differently from Birdo and is different every world. This provides an interesting changeup in the levels that keeps players on their toes not knowing what to expect.
In this game the main way that the player defeats enemies is by throwing vegetables at them. Or picking up the enemies and throwing them at each other. Theise vegetables can be found in the ground, indicated by their leaves sticking out. While most of them are vegetables, there are occasionally other goodies found in the ground as well. Again. more on that later.
In this game, the most common enemies are as follows
Shy guy: Shy guys act as the goombas of this game, wandering around aimlessly until they are killed by a vegetable. Tweeter: Tweeters are like shy guys, but they hop around the ground instead of just walking. Spark: Sparks follow the outline of a certain platform in the game Snifit: Snifits stay in one place but attempt to shoot the player untill they are killed Colbrat: Colbrats typically act as the piranha plants of this game, waiting in vases to jump out at the player and occasionally try to shoot at them. However some of them can run around freely. Hoopster: hoopsters climb up and down latter or vines in an attempt to hit the player Ninji: Ninjis can either be stationary enemies that stay in one place and jump around the player or they can try to hunt them down and follow them Pidgit: Pidgits use a magic carpet to fly around the top of the stage and occasionally dive down towards the player. Their carpets are sometimes used to advance in the level Bob ombs: Bob ombs make their debut in this game as enemies that walk around like Shy Guys, except they explode after a little while. Pokeys: Pokes also make their debut in this game. They behave as Shy Guys do, expert they are much taller and harder to jump over. Phanto: Occasionally whenever the player picks up a key, a Phanto will chase him until they either put it down or use it. Honestly this is the only enemy in this game that I wish they brought back in later Mario games that they didn't.
I mentioned earlier that nearly every level ends with a birdo fight, here's a bit more detail on that. Typically Birdo attempts to shoot either eggs, fireballs, or both at the player. The player must defeat her by pulling up various items, including her eggs, and throwing them at her like any other enemy. The difference here being that the player has to do it 3 times instead of just once. There are 3 different variants of Birdo in this game. The first is the pink kind, who just shoots eggs at the player and nothing more. The second is the red kind, which shoots mostly eggs but will occasionally shoot a fireball, forcing the players to be on their toes. The last is the green kind, which only shoots fireballs. This forces the player to find more creative means of attacking her. I like the pink and green ones, but I dont think the red one works very well. Now im not trying to say that its a bad idea, but I think that at the very least there should be some kind of indicator as to when their going to shoot a fireball as opposed to an egg.
Another thing I mentioned earlier is the fact that you can pull things out of the ground that aren't vegetables. Theise primarily serve as the powerups in this game. Here are a few: -the time clock, which will temporarily freeze all enemies in place -the red shell, which will travel along the ground, destroying all enemies in its way -the bomb, which can be used to destroy certain parts of the ground -the invincibility star make a return as well -hearts will float up from the bottom of the screen. Touching them will give you an extra hit point if needed There is one more, but its a little more complicated. Its a potion that when dropped, will open a door to an opposite world. Here, anything that was not pulled out from the ground int the main world can be pulled out for a coin. There will also occasionally be a mushroom. This mushroom can not only increase your size, but add an extra amount of HP to the player.
At the end of every level, there's a slot machine type minigame that the player can try their hand at. The amount of coins they have is the amount of chances they have at getting an extra life. However, one thing I want to bring up here is that there's something odd about the way this slot machine game works. Sure, if the player lines up 3 pictures in a row they get a prize, but it also gives prizes for very random combinations of pictures. I dont quite remember which ones, but that never really made sense to me…
Obviously that's not everything, but it's all the things that I wanted to touch upon.
Aside from a slightly more colorful version of mario, there really isn't anything that I can think of that really makes this game stand out graphics wise. Spritewise though, is a different story…well not quite, I just want to say that the tiny character sprites in this game are the most accidentally hilarious things ives ever seen. Like, they all have this huge head and such a tiny body its hilarious to me. Thats all 🙂
All of the songs in this game have just given off this dopey feel. Like just from the character select track you can already tell this is gonna be a fun adventure and honestly I think it really suits this game well. Besides I'd be lying if I said that I never got ANY of these tracks stuck in my head.
So what do I think of this game overall?
At the very beginning I mentioned that this is my favorite of the original 4. Here's why:
Look at the market of Mario platfomers today, then compare them to the original 4. Youd probably notice that this one isn't nearly as well referenced as 1, 3, or even Lost Levels. Whenever I play the original or Super Mario Bros 3, I can't shake the feeling that what i'm playing is outdated, that there are newer versions of it. While that certainly never stopped me from playing a game, why play a game like Mario Kart Advance when you own Mario Kart 8 deluxe? However with Super Mario Bros 2, there really is nothing else like it. Maybe that isn't enough to qualify it as the best in your opinion, but it does for mine. And the game itself isn't bad either, just different. It's a far cry from my favorite Mario game definitely, but if youre a die hard Mario fan, then Id definetly check it out. Im gonna give this game a ⅘.
Remakes and ports
This game had two major remakes, here are the differences I noted in each.
The SNES remake, which was included in the game Super Mario All Stars -mulitple save files -can save at individual levels -changeable button layout -improved graphics and audio -the slot game is a bit more readable
The GBA remake, which was titled Super Mario Advance -multple save files as well -can save as individual levels -slighly downgraded audio and graphics from the SNES remake -includes voice acting for whatever reason -includes a copy of the Mario Bros remake again -shows stats of characters -5 collectable medals in each level that gives the player an extra life if all are collected -bigger vegetables and enemies that require more power -choose another character each time you die as opposed to the beginning of the level -the third boss is changed -minor level design tweaks -there are a couple more possible items to pull up from the ground
So which one is the superior version? Well thats kinda tough to say… naturally, youd think that it would be the GBA remake with how much has been added. But it does have one substantial downside-well two actually in my case-and that one is the controls. My gosh the controls are just a massive slip n slide on the GBA version. I probably lost nearly 25 lives because of things that I felt like I couldn’t controll. Now granted, the SNES or the original weren’t smooth as butter either, but they worked. That’s the big complaint, now my personal complaint comes from the voice acting. I don’t like voice acting in Mario game. Never have, never will. The characters in the Mario universe were specifically made so everyone can give their own voices to characters. Thus, seeing a character without the voice you gave them can be kinda like seeing a bootleg version of them. The only voice acting I didn’t mind was the song from Super Mario Odyssey. And that technically wasn’t even voice acting but singing.
So all in all, I’m kinda torn between the two remakes being the superior version. While the GBA version has more content, its also a lot more slippery around the edges. So while it’s definetky worth your time, I’m gonna have to call the SNES remake the superior version.
Ways to play this game today
-if you have an NES and a copy of this game, you can play that way -if you have it downloaded on wiishop you can play that way, but wiishop is closed in 2021, so you’d have to have it already downloaded like I do. -if you have a 3DS or wiiu, it’s available for 4.99$+tax, which I think is a good price for this game -it’s one of the 30 games available for the NES mini. But I wouldn’t buy it for this game alone (Which is how I played it for this review) -if you have a switch, it’s on NES online, but I wouldn’t buy it for this game alone.
as for the GBA remake
-if you have a copy of the game and a GBA you can play that way -if you have a wiiu it’s available for 7.99$ + tax. Which I think is a good price for this game
So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your opinion! A ways that’s gonna be it for this one, happy gaming.
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