theuselessgod's Super Mario Bros. 2 (Nintendo Entertainment System) review

Who cares if it's a reskin? Mario 2 is freaking AWESOME.

The Short


- Lots of levels with new abilities that changed up the Mario formula

- Play as four distinctly different characters, including Peach!

- Graphics dramatically better than original Super Mario Bros

- Great music

- Better difficulty balance than the first Super Mario Bros

- Can run left


- Ripoff of Doki Doki Panic

- People hate it for some unexplained reason

- No save system for such a long game


The Long

Ok, look. I know Super Mario Bros 2 is an American reskin of Doki Doki Panic, ok? I know the "real" Super Mario Bros 2 was the now "Lost Levels" collection you get on the Super Mario Allstars pack. I know this wasn't originally a Mario game, ok? I'll even post a Doki Doki Panic screenshot to prove it.

There you go. Happy?

The point is this doesn't matter. Super Mario Bros 2 might have been some other game before, but it's a legit Mario game now. But before I go off on that pre-determined rant, let's actually review the game in brief.

Super Mario Bros 2 (or Mario 2, for the sake of my poor typing hand) is a unique game in that it takes all the elements first introduced in Super Mario Bros and completely switches them up. While at its core it is still a platformer about jumping and shooting, that and the Mario characters are the only real similarities between it and Mario 1. Rather than jumping on enemies to kill them, now you pull veggies from the ground to lob in their general direction. There are no blocks to hit with your head; stars are picked up to gather cherries, and coins are used for a slot machine at the end to get more lives. There are doors into a different dimension (essentially the first instance of a "Dark World" in a Mario game) where you can pick up mushrooms, but rather than make you big (which they do), you start big and these give you more lives.

The levels are essentially linear but with much more freedom, aka you can go back finally. While many have a straight route through, others are a little more challenging. You have to find the right passageways, use the right keys, avoid that awful head...eye...face...mask thing, and it just added a lot more freedom and exploration that wasn't common for these types of games. The "uprooting veggies" mechanic also moved to digging, making some really interesting sand levels, and the bosses weren't incredible but certainly a step up from "jump over Bowser" from the first game.


The game also added a bunch of characters, including the first time you played as a (now named, also for the first time) Princess Peach. Each of the characters played completely differently. Mario was your standard, all around kind of guy: he ran quick, jumped high, and picked up stuff decently. Luigi was the random one, with the wonkiest leg-wiggling jump ever that made him the best jumper but also the most difficult to control. Toad picked stuff up lightning fast and hauled, but was a mediocre jumper. And Peach (aka the one everybody played) could float for some reason, but was awful at everything else.

You could swap characters between levels and after deaths, so if you think your chosen character (Peach) was inadequate, you could try somebody else. I have fond memories playing this at a friend's, where I'd always pick Peach and he'd swear by the insane Luigi. The crazy part was he had mastered the green guy, pulling off some insane stuff with that zany air jump of his. Good times.

As it stands, Mario 2 is an excellent sequel. It doesn't take a whole lot from the original, but to be honest the original was just sort of...there. It's big deal was the fact it was a platformer that felt good to play, without it being clunky or unfair. Mario 2's jumping is excellent (and actually adds variety with multiple characters) and the rest of the game is unique and really, really fun. It's one of my favorite Mario games.

And then people had to go out and hate on it.

Note: If you like Mario 2, you can skip this rant. Or read it and feel smug.

Mario 2 gets a lot of flack for not being a "real" Mario game, because it was a skin for us stupid Americans back in the 80s. We got this game instead of Mario: Lost Levels (the "real" Mario 2), and for some reason lots of people think that means this game is somehow dumbed down or worse, or not really Mario. Well guess what: you are all wrong, and here is why.

First off, show of hands: have any of you actually played Doki Doki Panic? Oh, hardly any of you? Ok, how about not on an emulator? Oh, nobody? That's what I thought. I've actually played it on a Japanese NES in some backwash game store, and guess what? Who cares. Mario 2 is better. Yep, I said it.

Second question, how many of you played Lost Levels on Super Mario Allstars? A fair amount, especially considering the straight Wii port that came out a while back. How many beat it? None? A few? How many thought it was unfair, or perhaps the platforming wasn't as tight or well designed as Mario 1? I see your hands timidly raising, knowing exactly where I'm going with this but unable to lie to me. Lost Levels is kind of total garbage. It has no graphical improvements. It only has a handful more levels, and some have jumps that are broken, meaning if you don't get speed before you hit them and then stop (and since you can't go left to regain speed) your only choice is to die. This isn't challenge. It's bad game design. Lost Levels is a bad Mario game.

Oh, I'm not done.

So perhaps Mario 2 is better than Lost Levels, so what? "It doesn't follow the formula of a Mario game!" People argue. "It isn't a real Mario game because it doesn't have Mario elements!"

Ok, how many of you actually played these games when they came out on the NES? BEFORE Mario 3 came out? Because if you remember, the only game behind this one was Mario. He hadn't built up his pedigree as a box-smashing, powerup grabbing guy by this point. We only had the first game to go off of and from what I see, Mario 2 is a worthy sequel because it took elements of Mario 1 and made them better. Running left. Diverse levels. More enemies. Better jumping. Multiple characters. These are all improvements that still follow the first Mario game. We didn't know this game wasn't "legit" until years later after several more Mario games came out and we started getting the internet to tell us this game was a reskin of another game. And that is when you decided it wasn't a Mario game.

Plant Rocket is the best

"But Mario games now all ignore Mario 2 because it's the red-headed stepchild of the series!" You cry. "If they loved it so much, why did they abandon it?"

First off, I'm a red-head, so I take offense at that. Not really, but I take offense when people say the above regarding Mario 2, because they aren't thinking. Here's a list of things introduced in Mario 2 that have since been introduced in later Mario games.

- Shy guys

- Multiple players/charaters (Super Mario Bros Wii)

- Life bars (Mario 64)

- Birdo

- Luigi playing different than Mario (Super Smash Bros)

- Going left (Mario 3)

- Those spiky plant guys

- Bosses other than Bowser

- Themed worlds

- Lots of other crap I'm sure you can think of.

These are fundamental parts of Mario now, so don't go tellin' me they don't matter. In fact, this game was ahead of its time, so much so that some elements weren't used again (yet). Having multiple characters that can tackle the same levels? Super Meat Boy did that and you all loved it so much, but Nintendo apparently listened to its "fans" and never put that stuff back in. This game was ripe with awesome features, and it pushed the Mario games forward. Yes, it wasn't the same game in Japan, but who cares? It's more than solidified itself as a Mario game, and not only that, as one of the best Mario games because it's unique. Which is something Mario has been bad at recently.

Bring this back, Nintendo. Seriously.


So anyway, Mario 2 is the bomb. I love it. It's a great game and you should all go play it because it's awesome and is especially fun if you have a friend and can switch off between deaths (and switch characters). It's better designed, better paced, and just better overall. So stop your hatin' and get with the LOVE, because Mario 2 has a lot to give.

A classic. Five out of five.

Plus, who could hate this music? NOBODY.

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