Super Mario Bros 2 RetroActive Review

Super Mario Bros 2 picture

Super Mario Bros 2

Original Release Date: 1988

This game is rather unusual, and has had a bit of a mixed reception over the years. It’s not actually a Mario game, but is in fact a game called Doki Doki Panic that was reskinned for an American release. This decision was made because Nintendo felt that the actual Super Mario Bros 2, later released as Super Mario Bros the Lost Levels, would be too hard for western audiences, and that the title was a little too similar in nature to the original.

Personally, I think this was a wise move for two reasons. First of all, the actual Super Mario Bros 2 was essentially just the first game again, but with all of the fun sucked out and replaced with heaps of frustration. Consequently, western audiences didn’t miss much in not getting it. And second of all, the Super Mario Bros 2 we got is actually a really solid game.

It has the same basic elements as the first game. You jump across platforms, obtain different power-ups, and try to make it to the end of each level. In addition, the smooth controls, well-crafted difficulty curve, and the inclusion of memorable music all return. But there are a number of new elements.

Instead of only controlling Mario, players can now choose between four different characters, Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad, with each character having their own unique playstyle. The aesthetic is also different, with a noticeable improvement in graphical fidelity over the first game, and a more unique series of environments for the player to traverse through.

There is also a new mechanic which allows the player to pick up various objects, including enemies, and toss them around. While this changes how the game works, it also gives the players new ways of solving problems and overcoming obstacles. The levels are also more dynamic. While Super Mario Bros always had you moving right, Super Mario Bros 2 mixes it up, sometimes moving the player right, but sometimes sending them up, down, even to the left, and sometimes all in the same level. This, combined with the new picking up ability, places a greater emphasis on puzzles. Some may not like this change, as it disrupts the elegant simplicity of the first game, but I think it’s a nice change of pace.

On the less positive side, the game has a life system, and if you run out, you go right back to the beginning. And unlike in the first game, there aren’t really any shortcuts, which means the player will have to wade through the same content over and over again just to get a shot at the spot that was giving them trouble.

Despite a few gripes here and there, Super Mario Bros 2 is a fun and well put together game, and is a worthy sequel to the original, even if it wasn’t originally a Mario game.

How well it holds up       3/4

Overall quality                   8/10


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