Super Mario Bros. 2

aka: Mario 2, SMB 2, Super Mario USA
NES Specs [ all ]
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Description official descriptions

This release of Super Mario Bros. 2 is completely different from its original Japanese counterpart, originating in the West and being in fact a version of Yume Kōjō: Dokidoki Panic with a different storyline and protagonists swapped for Mario and his friends.

One night Mario has a strange dream, where he opens a door to another world filled with even stranger creatures and lands than those in his last adventure against Bowser. Amazingly, the next day, Mario, Luigi, Toad, and the Princess stumble upon a cave, which leads to the world that was in Mario's dream.

Subcon, the land of dreams, is under an evil spell thanks to Wart, so Mario and the gang must save the day. New creatures to defeat and plenty of nasty surprises await.

Choose from the four characters, each differing in speed and jumping ability, and head on through 7 levels each filled with puzzles, bosses, bonus coins, the always helpful mushroom, and invincible star, plus bombs and magic potions. After each level, depending on the coins you collect, you can use them in the bonus game to collect extra lives.


  • Super Mario Brothers 2 - Alternate spelling
  • スーパーマリオUSA - Japanese spelling

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Credits (NES version)

15 People

Executive Producer
Assistant Director
Character Designer
Title Designer
Course Designers
Motion Designers
Sound Composer



Average score: 86% (based on 38 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 187 ratings with 5 reviews)

If you don't like vegetables then you can throw them at enemies

The Good
This game has a bit of a history to it. Super Mario Bros. 2 was originally released as Doki Doki Panic in Japan. The original Super Mario Bros. 2 was only released in Japan and is internationally known as Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels. Nintendo back then thought that this game is too difficult for players in Europe and the US, so they changed Doki Doki Panic and turned it into a Mario game. Let's take a look to see if this still holds up like the Mario games.

This game actually has somewhat of story, if you can believe it. One day, our Italian plumber Mario had a strange dream, where he finds a door that transports him into a dreamworld called Subcon. In this world, the people of Subcon ask Mario for his help because they got cursed by a gigantic villainous frog known as Ward. Mario, of course the good guy that he is, decides to help the people of Subcon. Meanwhile, Luigi, Toad and princess Peach have a picnic and suddenly discover a cave that leads to the world of Subcon. The group decide to help the people and defeat Ward once and for all. I have to say, i am impressed that a Mario game has a story, although the story is just there. It's a Mario game, so what do you expect? So let's talk about the gameplay.

Super Mario Bros. 2 plays a lot differently from the first SMB. You still have the same controls like in the first game, but there are new mechanics in this game. You don't defeat enemies by jumping on them like in the first game. Instead, you can pick up enemies and throw them at other enemies, which is very useful for killing multiple enemies at the same time. Another thing is that if you hold down d-pad, the character blinks and he or she can jump higher.
Mario, Luigi, Toad and princess Peach have their own unique strengths. Mario is the allrounder in this team, but he doesn't have anything unique to him. Luigi can jump higher but his traction is really weak. Toad is the fastest one in the group and he can pick up vegetables and plants much faster. He is actually my favourite character in the game. Princess Peach is the slowest one in the group and i generally don't like playing with her, but she has the best ability. She can hover for a short period of time and it sometimes breaks the game because it takes away the challenge, but to me it wasn't really an issue.
There are other things you can collect. If you see a heart floating in the air, pick it up and get back your health. Yes, this game has a health bar. You can take hits up to four times if you collect the mushrooms in the bonus levels. These bonus levels are only accessible through a bottle which you can pick up from plants. The world turns black and the remaining plants turn into coins. These coins are used for the slot machine at the end of every level. Sometimes if you throw the bottle at the right place, you can discover a warp pipe which leads you to another world. Also there are doors in this game which lead to another area. Those doors are locked sometimes, so you have to search for a key to unlock them. If you have found the key, a mask will chase you until you use the key.
I like these new mechanics but there are a few problems which i address later.

The level design is much better than in the first game. Every world has its own theme, for example a desert world or an ice world. The characters and enemies are much more detailed and everything in the backgrounds moves, which makes the level design more fluid. The general look of this game is more appealing to me than the first game.

The soundtrack is just as catchy as in the first game. I really like the overworld theme, but not quite as much as the first game theme. The other tracks are good too, but very short.

The Bad
There are a few problems i have. If you hold down the b-button you can run, but the acceleration is a tiny bit too fast for me. If you aren't careful, you can fall down a pit.

Another problem is that most of the enemies you encounter don't do anything but walk or jump, which makes you think, why should i defeat those guys in the first place? Because of this, these are just boring and i wished they would at least attack you. Even the mask that follows you if you have a key is easy to dodge if you throw the key away.
The boss battles are the best thing when it comes to the enemies. There are different enemies, such as a mouse, who throws bombs at you, a three headed dragon who spits fire and Birdo, a transgender enemy who shoots eggs and later fireballs. Nintendo actually included a transgender in a Mario game. Birdo appears in a handful of Mario spin off games such as Mario Kart. The boss battle, as i said, is the best thing about the enemies but they are not very challenging either. Even the final boss, Ward, isn't really a challenge. He is pretty easy to beat because the machine which cursed the people of Subcon actually helps, which is really weird. An evil machine helps you in defeating his own master. Won't say no to that but still, what an odd machine.

The Bottom Line
Despite these problems it has, i still love this game. It's very different from the first game and it's a real breath of fresh air if you played it all these years later. If you are new to Mario games, you can play this to start with because it's not so challenging, unlike the first game, and you can get a feeling of what Mario games are about.

That's it folks, see you later.

NES · by Lisa Müller (28) · 2018

If loving SMB2 is wrong, I don't want to be right.

The Good
How do you follow up the best platformer ever made? Easy: just come up with an even more fantastic and colorful design! It’s next to impossible to execute this kind of plan successfully, but in the case of Super Mario Bros. 2 (SMB2), that is precisely what Nintendo did.

As with the first SMB, the soundtrack launches a major charm offensive right off the bat. The sound effects are terrific – every plucked vegetable registers a big, juicy “shploop!” – and the musical themes bounce along, going from happy-to-whimsical-to-Egyptian-to-frantic-to-happy whenever it’s appropriate.

But of course, the gameplay is what matters. This time around, there are four different playable characters, each with different attributes. The utility of the different characters in different situations (and on different levels) gives the game an RPG-like quality that wouldn’t show up again in a Mario game for many years. The greater freedom to move around and explore environments will also appeal to your inner roleplayer. While SMB2 is, in many ways, another “run-to-the-right” game, there are just enough occasions when you have a choice about how to proceed to make the game world more interesting than that of SMB1.

Lack of challenge was a damning charge in gaming circles back in the late 1980s, and some did point the finger at SMB2. This was not completely unwarranted; SMB2 really is a somewhat more forgiving game than its predecessor. (It took me years to beat SMB1 without cheating, but only months to beat SMB2.) Still, I would put SMB2’s low difficulty in the plus column. Gaming was still a rather cliquish and arcane pastime in the 80s; the emergence of more casual games like SMB2 went a long way towards mainstreaming the hobby.

Finally, the between-stage gambling segments were a clever innovation. They break up the pace and add some variety to the proceedings. They don’t seem purely luck-driven, either; proper timing leads to greater success, which leads to more in-game rewards (one-ups).

The Bad
There is only one real problem with SMB2: the lack of a password or save function. I don't care how forgiving a game is in its difficulty, if you can't turn off a game of this length and return to it later where you left off, it's a design flaw.

Aside from that, the most frequently cited "problem" with SMB2 turns out not to be a problem at all. Some cranky gamers simply cannot appreciate the fact that SMB2 is a departure from the first game in so many ways. They claim it is a not a true sequel, being too different in terms of gameplay mechanics and too easy to beat compared to the first. According to these nattering nabobs, Nintendo really dropped the ball on this title.

The popular explanation for all this – repeatedly endlessly by snobbish Japanophiles – is that Americans were too lazy and stupid for the “real” sequel released in Japan, which copied the design of the first SMB and upped the difficulty level. I couldn’t disagree more. Nintendo was extremely wise to expect that discriminating American consumers (even children!) would turn up their noses at more-of-the-same.

The result was SMB2—a breath of fresh air that helped keep home video gaming from getting stale and losing its post-crash momentum. And while it is certainly true that SMB2 is not as difficult as the first SMB, that really doesn’t make it any less fun to play. At any rate, the naysayers who don’t like SMB2 can simply skip it and go play the excellent Super Mario Bros. 3 instead.

The Bottom Line
With Super Mario Bros. 2, Nintendo’s designers broke the Big Rule: Don’t tamper with a perfect formula. And what did their audacity get them? Only the most surprisingly good sequel to a platformer ever made. If you like this kind of game and haven’t played it yet, you simply must do so.

NES · by PCGamer77 (3159) · 2010

Great game, but why did Nintendo keep us in the dark

The Good
A very good game, lots of sound, easy to beat. Good graphically and sounding. A good original and a good keeper.

The Bad
This game is a fake Mario game, as it is originally Doki Doki Panic in Japan, which is a totally different story and concept. The Japanese game is much harder, as you can not run and go through some of the loopholes there are in the American version. Every player has to beat the game, not just 4 beating it once.

Nintendo kept us in the dark about the fact that they released Super Mario 2 in 1986 when it was released as a Mario game. They kept it in Japan because it was too hard for us. I think it was a little too late when they compiled it in Super Mario All-Stars.

The Bottom Line
Its good, dont let my feelings towards Nintendo's Japan Vs. American marketing and their point of view that Japanese kids are smarter get in the way.

NES · by Scott G (765) · 2006

[ View all 5 player reviews ]


1001 Video Games

The NES version of Super Mario Bros. 2 appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


Super Mario Bros. 2 replaced Doki Doki Panic's third Mouser boss with a rock-tossing giant crab called Clawgrip.

However, Clawgrip's name is spelled wrong in the SMB2 credits (it's spelled as "Clawglip"). Interestingly enough, this small flub was not fixed in Super Mario All-Stars!


The picture used on the cover incorrectly has Mario's shirt as blue and his dungarees as red! This mistake is just on the cover art as Mario's in-game color scheme is the correct blue dungarees/red shirt.


Though not originally designed as a Mario game, the further Mario games used many elements from this game, mostly enemies. Shyguy, Bob-omb, and Pokey are notable examples.

Mario and Luigi

By inheriting attributes from the Doki Doki Panic characters they replaced, the appearance of Mario and Luigi are differentiated by more than a palette swap for the first time in this game. Though they were again palette swaps in some later games, Super Mario Bros. 2 set the precedent for Mario to be the shorter brother and for Luigi to be lanky.

Release history

The Japanese Super Mario Brothers 2 was an updated version of the original title, complete with harder levels and new enemies. The US SMB2 was a conversion of the Nintendo title, Dream Factory: Doki Doki Panic, simply replacing the characters in that game with character from the Mario universe.

Nintendo later released the Japanese SMB2 in the US (titled Super Mario Bros. : The Lost Levels) as part of the compilation title, Super Mario All-Stars, on the Super Nintendo (SNES).

Japan gamers would also receive the US version of Super Mario Bros. 2, released as Super Mario USA in 1992.


  • EGM
    • February 2006 (Issue #200) - #108 in the "Greatest Games of Their Time" list
  • Game Informer
    • August 2001 (Issue #100) - #30 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
  • Power Play
    • Issue 01/1990 - #2 Best Nintendo Game in 1989

Information also contributed by Big John WV and j.jones, Joshua J. Slone, MegaMegaMan, PCGamer77, WWWWolf

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Kartanym.

Nintendo 3DS, Arcade, Wii U added by Michael Cassidy. Nintendo Switch added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. Wii added by gamewarrior.

Additional contributors: PCGamer77, Exodia85, gamewarrior, Andrew Shepard, MegamanX64, Patrick Bregger, TJ Liebgott, Thomas Thompson, FatherJack.

Game added September 28th, 2002. Last modified September 8th, 2023.