Super Mario Bros. 2 is definitely the oddball in the Mario series. Most gamers know the origins of Super Mario Bros. 2, but just in case some of you don’t, here’s a short history lesson. Doki Doki Panic, a Japanese platformer game, is actually the template for Super Mario Bros. 2. The original Super Mario Bros. sequel was deemed too hard for the North American audience, so instead, Nintendo placed Mario and friends in this easier Doki Doki Panic game thinking nobody would ever know. There you have it, the short version of why Super Mario Bros. 2 is different. Does this make it a bad Super Mario game? Not at all, and for a long time, myself and others didn’t know any better. However, we could certainly feel a difference.
Super Mario Bros. 2 plays quite a bit differently than Mario’s first adventure. Instead of stomping enemies to death, Mario resorts to plucking and throwing vegetables. Mario can also stand on any given enemy and pick them up as well. Attacking the enemy with another of its own kind is quite satisfying. Super Mario Bros. 2 also borrowed enemies from its Japanese counterpart, most of which are now staples in the Mario franchise; enemies like Bob-ombs, Pokey, Shy Guys and of course Birdo. Besides regular enemies, you will also encounter boss battles that are quite a bit different than the first game. Instead of multiple Bowser battles, the player is introduced to a number of different bosses with each requiring a different strategy to defeat. Mouser can be defeated with bombs, and Wart the final boss is hurt by throwing veggies down his gullet. This new element of strategy was new to the Mario series.
Another of its core differences is the ability to play as not only Mario and Luigi, but also Toad and Princess Peach. Each character comes complete with different strengths and weaknesses. Mario is an all around character, while Luigi is the highest jumper. Toad can pluck vegetables the fastest, while Peach holds the ability to float using her dress. Each of these abilities comes in handy during different areas of the game. Characters even have a health meter, which was a first, but not a last for the Mario series. Even after all of these changes, the goal is still to reach the end of each stage. Some other core Mario elements are still here including the running and jumping, as well as mushrooms and star power.
Super Mario Bros. 2 also has a unique story. Mario and friends stumble upon Subcon, a world of dreams conquered by an evil king frog known as Wart. After defeating Wart, players discover that Mario in fact was dreaming the entire time. It’s a little more involved story-wise, and the dream explains why this world is so much different than the Mushroom Kingdom. Super Mario Bros. 2 was also a much better looking game than Super Mario Bros. Sprites are much more detailed and colorful this time around. Environments are less bland and more exciting to play through. Characters and enemies are more than just color swaps, save for a few Shy Guys and Birdos. Its soundtrack is also quite entertaining and jazzy.
All themes are given a slight overhaul from the Doki Doki Panic game and to my knowledge; the only classic Mario tunes to make this game are the Starman and main Super Mario Bros. theme. I also recommend that you pause the game and listen to the backbone of each song; it’s a very neat touch and is definitely worth a look next time you play.
4/5 D-Pads: Super Mario Bros. 2 might not be the game we were expecting as kids, but I’m sure many of us didn’t care then and don’t care now. All that mattered to me was that I was playing another Super Mario Bros. game. Playing as four different characters was refreshing at the time and the main Overworld theme still gets stuck in my head to this day. Super Mario Bros. 2 also sports improved graphics and the gameplay was quite unique and challenging. It can be downloaded now on the Virtual Console for 500 points. I recommend that every Mario fan should check out this game.