This is an ongoing list where I attempt to do the following: Play, Complete, and Rank every video game in the known universe in order to finally answer the age old question "What is the greatest game of all time?" For previous entries find the links on the attached spreadsheet.
How did I do?
|Characters used||Toad, Peach|
Welcome to the 100th episode spectacular! At the conclusion of this review, the list of ranked games will hit triple digits and it is only continuing to grow. Now granted, 100 games is nothing compared to the (checks notes)... 1 million games, that are out there waiting to be ranked, but I do think 100 is nothing to sneeze at. Obviously we are going to talk about the game in the header, but I picked Mario 2 to be the 100th game, and broke my original rule of spinning my wheel and having it select a random game for me to play, because I wanted my 100th game to be a little special. I started off my list with Mario 1 so I figured its only right to finally put Mario 2 on the list at the 100th spot. With that said, I doubt I will have any magical game that I put at 150, or even 200 (if I ever get there), so this is a one time deal. Let's get on with the show.
(Annoying voice) "Did you know that Mario 2 is a re-skin of Doki-Doki-Panic?"
"OMG! no! I've never heard that piece of trivia, EVER! Certainly not every time this game comes up."
Mario 2 will unfortunately have this distinction follow it well past any of our graves, and its a trivia fact that is so well known we as a society need to move off of it. Let's start talking about a new piece of trivia, like how Zelda was originally going to be voiced by Vin Diesel, but his grunts were so manly, that they had to re-record all his lines so that TV's wouldn't break upon playing the audio.
The game itself is a platformer, where you take your pick on a level by level basis to play as either Mario, Luigi, Toad, or Princess Peach. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, but every level can still be completed by every character. For instance Peach moves the slowest, pulls up items the slowest, but she can float in midair for a brief bit during all of her jumps. This makes her able to clear some gaps easier, or have more control when doing some tough platforming, but she might have a hard time in levels that require a lot of fast pickups. Luigi on the other hand is very quick, has the highest jump, but controls like wet spaghetti and is not great at levels that require precision. Now if it is your first time playing through the game, you really don't know what each level is going to hold, or who is going to be the best for each level. There is some trial and error here, in that you might pick a level and realize that Luigi is going to be a bad choice, you take the death, and then pick someone better. It is probably best to try and "main" a character so that you aren't taking a bunch of deaths when you don't need to. The good thing, is that I feel most play styles have a character you can pick, so someone will suit your needs.
Now if you are absolutely new to Mario 2, there are a couple things that are very different to previous games. The first is that the levels themselves are setup very different. Gone are the time-limits of games past (and future), you could spend an hour in each level if you really want to. The obstacles in this game are not about racing to the finish, but trying to figure out how to get there. The levels are slightly more maze-like in fashion. You might need to go down pipes to find a key, then climb back up and use that key on a door which then allows you to complete the level. In some other levels it might be a straight shot up, or to the right, but the levels have a little more meat on it.
Gone are also the power-ups that we associate with the Mario games. You won't find fire-flowers or feathers to help you in levels. There are stars, but they now only pop up based on how many cherries you collect. They float up from off-screen and there is a very realistic chance that they pop up, over a pit or out of reach for Mario. Mushrooms exist, but they have to be found, in alternate potion worlds, and they reward you with an extra hit-point to get through the level. As they levels progress, it actually gets harder and harder to find mushrooms, because they become their own little trial and error puzzles.
Finally, the big difference is much more an emphasis on boss fights. At the end of most levels you will fight a boss, before you can progress. Most of the time it is a bird monster (Birdo) who shoots eggs that you need to pickup and throw at it, but you might also find yourself fighting a mouse that throws bombs, a snake that shoots fire, etc. This isn't your Grandma's Bowser where you just have to run under it every-time it jumps, these are bosses that take multiple hits that can't be avoided.
Now I just lightly summed up a game, that everyone already knows about, but what makes Mario 2 unique is also what makes it a nice evolution of the first game. It is such a step up over the original in nearly every regard. It looks better, has more enemy variety, more level variety, more bosses. It has more puzzles, and different play-styles and even more characters to be that offer their own unique twist and set the canon for Mario lore later. I will also say that it is harder then Mario 1, and gets harder faster. Mario 1 has a very nice onboarding ramp up that teaches you how to play and does so at a good clip. I am spit-balling but Mario 1 has the entire first world, to get you to the real game, while Mario 2 has basically 1 level. My son was so interested in watching me play, that the minute I finished, asked if you could give it a shot and he couldn't make it through the first level. Now granted, he is 3 and just starting his video game journey, but Mario 2 is different.
There are some things that are missed in this game. Coins are used sparingly and are only used for you to pull a slot machine at the end of a level to maybe get a 1-up (works like 1 in 10 pulls). Powerups are obviously missed, as you never get to feel overpowered, and obviously I miss some of our favorite enemies (koopas, goombas, etc) but that comes with the territory of a game that is "not supposed to be a Mario game."
Now there will be people that point out, that we (the United States) received Mario 2, because the REAL Mario 2 was considered too difficult for us, thus when I say that Mario 2 is difficult (technically I said "more difficult then 1") I imagine some people will scoff at me, but its true. I enjoyed a lot of my playthrough of Mario 2, not every level is a classic, and some levels amount to you just riding a bullet, or creature across the whole stage, but I like the game it became. Is it the best Mario? No, of course not, it's not even the best Mario on the system, but it offers something that the other games don't, and that is a change of pace. It is also the perfect length for an NES game. Playing without warps, will probably mean you can beat the game anywhere from 1.5-2 hours which without saves is a good amount. I will almost always pick this game over 3 because of it's length. Plus, you can make the game more difficult, by forcing yourself to play through the whole game with characters you don't normally use.
Is this the greatest game of all time?: No
Where does it rank: I don't know if Mario 2 is properly rated or under/over rated , because I don't think I know the consensus on this game. I personally really like this game, even though I can see why it might not be as loved as other Mario games. Having the choice of character is huge, and allows you to approach challenges in interesting ways, that gives this game a little more re-playability then Mario 1 or even 3 for that matter. I do actively hate the potion and coin system in this game. Its fun to find a surprise mushroom every now and again, but you also usually have to weigh that with getting coins (since those are available only in the shadow realm), and the slot machine can really screw you over. Did the game really need to have a "Dallas" ending? No, and its lame... but Mario 2 is still worth playing all these years later. i have it ranked as the 16th Greatest Game of all time out of 100. It sits above the original at 17 and it is just below Tetris Effect at 15. In my heart this maybe goes above Mario 3, but I know that Mario 3 is a better game in almost every way.
1. Old Man's Journey (Switch)
2. Dicey Dungeons (Switch)
3. Final Fantasy Theatrythm: Curtain Call (3DS)
So what makes this the 100th Episode spectacular? Well, honestly, not much. This was originally going to be planned before the end of the year, and I would then use my GOTY list as a look back at 100 items to see where I can improve or what stats I have to share. What I will say is that I am looking to mix things up more in 2022.
In 2021 it was the year of the Switch for me. It truly had a convenience that I couldn't escape from. I could sneak a game in while the kids watch their shows in the morning on the weekend, or I could play quietly in bed while I wind down from a long day. It led me to rank so many games on the Switch compared to other systems. Now, the Switch isn't going away for me, but in 2022 I am trying to make sure I am just not playing that thing constantly. I have a completed 3DS game on the list, I am currently playing through both a Dreamcast game and a Gamecube game, and at some point I will be getting the SteamDeck and a Polymega which will allow me to more easily play PC and Retro games. So while, we will still see a lot of indies get played on Switch for now, 2022 is hopefully a better mix of consoles.
Anyone looking for it: here is the link to the list and more if you are interested in following along with me (this is not a self promotion). Here. I added links on the spreadsheet for quick navigation. Now if you missed a blog of a game you want to read about, you can get to it quickly, rather than having to scroll through my previous blogs wondering when it came up.
Thanks for Listening.