The Weird and Wonderful World of Super Mario Bros 2

As I wait patiently for a video capture device that actually works (let’s make a mental note to avoid eBay for this sort of thing), I thought it would be fun to write my own post that explores the strange history of Super Mario Bros 2, which was in fact released twice – and both versions are verrrrrrrrry different to one another.

If you’re a Nintendo gamer, the chances are what I’m about to say is not new to you. The lore regarding Super Mario Bros 2 is legendary. If you’re unfamiliar with the tale, it concerns the desire to cash in on the first game’s huge success, as well as other concerns about the difficulty of the sequel.

If you’re a gamer, you’ll know this – the original 1985 classic

Nintendo of Japan were keen to get a sequel out quickly, and a year later Super Mario Bros 2 came out, with similar, albeit tweaked graphics to the first game, level design that was generally the same, and a much harder difficulty level. This new, very challenging game was deemed too much for Western audiences, and was not initially released in the Americas or Europe. Instead, we over here were treated to a very different Mario sequel…

A lot of Nintendo fans will recognise this

The version of Super Mario Bros 2 that the Western world became accustomed to was a huge departure from the original. It featured four playable characters (whereas Mario and Luigi were the only two playable characters in the original game, you could also play as Toad or Peach here), each with different attributes. Mario could pick up and throw enemies and other items, he wasn’t limited to the scroll of the level, there were doors to hidden areas, multiple paths to take to get places… it was a completely different game to the original. In fact, it was a different game in more ways than one…

Does this look familiar???

Doki Doki Panic was the original game upon which Super Mario Bros 2 (Western version) was based. It was in fact very easy to convert to a Mario game, because it had started life as a prototype Mario game. Doki Doki Panic came out in Japan in 1987, and was later rebranded as Super Mario Bros USA for re-release in Japan.

So we have two different versions of the sequel, but some of the influence of Doki Doki Panic is still felt in later Mario games. Shy Guys have appeared in the Yoshi games as enemies, and as members of the crowd in Mario Kart games. Ninjis appeared in Super Mario World (right at the very end) and Super Mario Maker 2 has introduced the concept of Ninji speedruns. Meanwhile, Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (as the Japanese version has become known elsewhere) has been the feature of speedrun challenges, and the poison mushroom that debuted in that title has made its way to the Mario Maker series.

In the end, both sequels have established a lasting legacy.

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