Super Mario Bros 2 (aka Super Mario Bros. USA in Japan) is a 2D platform video game. In this game, Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad must travel through seven worlds of a new world called Subcon, a dream world of a race of species known as the Subcons. They must save the land from the evil Wart and his minions, destroy the Dream Machine, and free the Subcons from Wart Tyrannical rule.
I know that this isn’t the true sequel to Super Mario Bros. It is a reskin of the Japanese game Doki, Doki, Panic. Also, this game’s release was necessary because of the recovering video game market at the time. However, this doesn’t change that I’ve found this game probably one of the weirdest entries in the Super Mario Bros. series of games. It’s not a bad game, but it’s an odd shift to go from Super Mario Bros. to this game because of its gameplay shift between the two games.
Super Mario Bros. 2 had laid the groundwork down for games like Super Mario 3D World and various Mario titles. You select Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach (Known as Princess Toadstool at the time), and Toad. You choose a character at the start of each level. Super Mario Bros 2. is a rare instance you don’t save the Princess, but a world from an enemy, which is a welcome change from the “Mario must save the princess” story formula. The game is simple enough. You run through the levels, defeat enemies along the way if you choose to, fight a mini-boss, grab a key-like orb at the end, and move to the next level. Each character has unique abilities. Mario is the average character, Luigi can jump the highest, Peach can float in the air for a couple of seconds, and Toad is the fastest and strongest.
Super Mario Bros. 2 dramatically differs from every other Mario game I’ve played. One way is defeating enemies. Instead of stomping on enemies, you jump on top of them and pick them up with the B button. You use this to pick up other items and objects in the game and throw them at your opponents. I get this now, but when I was a kid that got done playing Super Mario Bros., this was a new concept to me. There was confusion about why the enemies didn’t die when I jumped on them. It’s not like it took too long to figure out, but imagine trying to figure this out without an instruction manual. Super Mario Bros 2. was the first game that I read the manual to figure out how to play when I was a kid.
With the enemies, there are no Goombas, Koopa Troops, Hammer Bros., Lakitu’s, or any other Super Mario Bros. enemies from the first game. The game is filled with memorable and unmemorable characters simultaneously (anyone seriously remembers Porcupo without having to do an internet search). SMB 2 did give us characters that appeared in other future Mario games, such as Shy guys, Bob-omb’s, Ninjis, and Birdo. A lot of these enemies are challenging but are forgettable overall.
Birdo is the mini-boss at the end of most levels. Birdo shoots eggs at the characters, which you have to hop on, pick up and throw back at them. You can defeat them with ease, but later stages have, Birdo fire both eggs and fire at you, and all fire in later stages. There are four end-stage bosses, Clawgrip, FryGuy, Triclyde, and Mouser. They are difficult and easy to beat when you understand their predictable patterns. Wart is the final boss in the game and slightly more challenging than the others, but easy to take down when you get his pattern. Wart, Clawgrip, and FryGuy are the only bosses fought once in the game.
The graphics are ok for a Mario Bros. game. I give the game credit as this game’s characters feel colorful and animated compared to Super Mario Bros. However, many stages and designs come off as a Bland and uninspiring style. There are seven worlds in the game containing three levels, except for the last, which has two. The worlds vary in theme, which Grass, Desert, Waterfall, and Snow themes. Absent is a water-themed level. A strange choice as Water Levels get featured in every Mario Game, but understandable because this game isn’t a traditional Mario game. This music is good and upbeat in the game and has catchy tracks by Koji Kondo. But I feel the music drones on and on at points.
Controls are fine and follow the traditional Mario controls configuration for Mario Games on the NES. A Jumps and B Runs, picks up, and throws items you are holding. There isn’t a lag, and I feel in control of each character when I play the game. The Special abilities are good that each character offers and help you, as long as you know the stage and what character would do better at that stage. I think Peach is the beast with the floating ability she has. You can leap over many of the extended gaps at any level.
There is no time limit, so there isn’t any rushing, which is good because some levels may confuse you where to go. It’s direct and to the point on most levels but cryptic on others. Level 4-3, for example, at the beginning of the stage, you encounter Birdo. Usually, you would think to defeat Birdo, but no, you need to jump on top of an egg they attack you with and ride it across an impassable section of the game. Knowing what to do can be difficult for someone to figure out without a strategy guide or online walkthrough.
You start each stage with two hit points. When you are down to one hit point, You are in your small form. Defeating eight enemies will make a heart appear to restore any HP you lost. Magic Mushrooms are back in the game, and add one hit point to your counter when you collect it. You can find two Magic Mushrooms per stage. First, you have to find a potion from the ground and throw it in the correct spot to reveal a door. Enter that door, and you go to a darkened reversed section where you can collect coins from the ground For the Bonus Chance game at the end of the level and the mushroom if you get it in time. You only get a few seconds in this area, but can you exit through the door, or the game automatically sends you back. The Magic Mushroom can increase your life meter up to four on each stage if you find both. I’m not a fan of the counter resetting at the beginning of each level. Instead of resetting to two at the beginning of the stage, maybe with the player is killed, like in other Super Mario Bros. games. There is a lot of trial and error and no hints as to why the mushrooms will be. You have to feel it out and hope you threw the potion in the correct area.
Some power-ups can help you, but not found in question blocks like in other Mario games, and finding them is in the strangest ways possible. Pulling up grass can reveal Vegetables you throw at enemies, and pulling five of a certain kind will reveal a stopwatch that freezes enemies for a few seconds; when you collect enough cherries scattered in a level summons, Starman. A power-up from the last game makes you Invincible for a few seconds. I’m not too fond of this extra work you need to do and instead take my chances. Even when you meet these requirements, the items move slowly from the bottom of the screen, and you get to a point where you’d rather risk beating a stage weakened than powered up.
While I enjoy playing this game, it’s still weird compared to other Mario games. It doesn’t play like any other Mario Platforming game. It isn’t a true Mario Sequel as it’s remade from another game Doki Doki Panic so it can be jarring for a gamer to jump from Super Mario Bros to this game and back to Super Mario Bros 3. You don’t stomp on enemies and throw objects to defeat them. It’s not a challenging game, but cryptic on how to advance in certain sections of the game. While not the best or memorable Mario game out there, it did develop certain enemies, aspects, and mechanics for other Mario games.