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Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  *Katakis* (37914)
Written on  :  Jan 17, 2012
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars

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Is it Mario or Doki Doki Panic, and who really cares?

The Good

There are two different versions of Super Mario Bros. 2 that exist. The version released in Japan looks and plays like its predecessor, and new mechanics were introduced. The one for American audiences, however, was actually based on Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic for the Famicom Disk System. Nintendo's headquarters in Japan said their own SMB2 would be too difficult for American consumers, so they ordered Nintendo of America to replace all four characters of a popular show on Fuji Television with characters from the Mario universe, and leave the rest intact.

The story is already explained in the game, so I won't go into it in detail here. Four characters that made their appearances in the first game find themselves in a strange land controlled by Wart, an evil being who has placed a spell on Subcon. It is up to Mario and the gang to defeat Wart and restore Subcon to its former glory. The characters have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and switching between them provide some variation to the game.

SMB2 introduces new gameplay mechanics that more or less get re-introduced into future games. Mario's ground-pounding attack is replaced with the ability to lift vegetables from the ground and use them to knock enemies off the screen; and during the course of the game, your character can ride magic carpets and other enemies. You can also enter Sub-space, a mirror image of what you see on screen before you enter, where you can lift plants up to get coins needed for a gambling game at the end of each stage. My favorite mechanic is throwing eggs back at Birdo after she spits them at you. (Later, it is even necessary to ride one of these eggs over a series of hazards.)

There are seven worlds that Mario and Co. must traverse through, and each of them is set in a specific location. Each of the locations brings about many challenges that you must deal with. World 4, for instance, is set in snowy areas, so your character needs to navigate icy surfaces., as well as getting onto a sprout of water from a whale that you can reach a platform. No matter which world it is, the scenery looks excellent. I like the waterfall in World 1, as well as the falling logs directly in front of it. A common occurrence in SMB2 are locked doors, but carrying a key causes an evil being called Phanto to hunt you down as long as you are carrying it.

The memorable soundtrack reflects the environment you're in, with a specific soundtrack used for indoor and outdoor areas. Every tune sounds much better than Doki Doki Panic thanks to the NES's own synthesizer. I was impressed by the short melody that plays in the caves, consisting of what sounds like drums. The sound is excellent as well, as they consist of PCM audio samples; most of them are new, while others are similar to the sound effects in the first game.

The replayability of the game is quite high. The stages can be replayed with different characters, but unless you are using an emulator that supports save states, this means restarting the game. Also, chapter seven presents several ways of reaching Wart, so it's worth playing the game again anyway. Multiple routes through the game was re-introduced in Super Mario World.

The Bad

Besides SMB2 being virtually a non-Mario game? I can't think of anything.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, SMB2 is totally different to its predecessor. The real sequel wasn't released in America due to the high level of difficulty. What audiences got instead was a version of Doki Doki Panic, which is slightly modified so that it was suitable for American audiences. But back when it was released, people had no idea that the actual sequel was only released in Japan. Nevertheless, American SMB2 is great fun. The graphics and sound is excellent, and the use of multiple characters and routes throughout the game ensures that the game can be played more than once. If you want to play the actual sequel, you need to either use an emulator or hunt down a Famicon, along with the Disk System add-on.