Everyone knows Super Mario Bros. 2 is a timeless classic, but is it better than the original?

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Super Mario Bros. 2 | Better than its Brother?

I could tell you that the Super Mario Bros. 2 we all know and love is a modernization of a pre-existing Japanese game, Doki Doki Panic. I could tell you about how the original design of Super Mario Bros. 2 was considered “too difficult” for the American audience, and that the developers felt the development was too similar in game play to the original mega-hit, but that also is pretty common knowledge.

The game had a long-winded development history in which the designers chose to redirect the series with a drastically different look and game play style. Join me now as I take a closer look at these significant differences in the US release, and their resulting impact.

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Super Mario Bros. 2 | Unique Gameplay

Super Mario Bros. 2 is a platformer like its predecessor, but with a unique style. Even though the game primarily focuses on getting your character from left to right by jumping over obstacles, the gameplay adds some interesting variations in the form of minor backtracking, vertical scrolling, collecting mandatory items, tunneling underground, and most emphatically, a pick-up-and-throw dynamic.

Being able to pick up and toss items was no doubt a unique mechanic at the time and a complete departure from the previous Mario games. In the previous games, your main offense was to jump on top of enemies; Super Mario Bros. 2 removed this altogether in favor of throwing vegetables to land on the enemy. Not many games had implemented this mechanic until then. I believe after the success of this game, many others adopted this as a primary function–making it a gaming staple. Certainly, this technique was used very well in Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, and its sequel.

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Collecting coins was another major part of the previous Mario game, as gaining 100 would grant you an extra life. This time, coins could only be found inside the magic door, and their only purpose was to give you chances at the slot machine, assuming you finished the level. A mystery that has always eluded me about this game was how the slot machine pays out. Figuring it out might be the difference between a decent playthrough versus an impressive one.

Being able to rack up extra lives may seem unimportant, but I personally have never seen the life counter maxed out. The original Super Mario Bros. would oddly revert to cryptic special characters to display large numbers. The trick we used back in the day to accomplish this was the koopa shell rebound trick, which many players regretfully exploited. A similar trick is available in Super Mario Bros. 3, but as far as I know, there is no comparable trick in Super Mario Bros. 2. Needless to say, extra lives are much harder to come by.

Super Mario Bros. 2 also gave us the freedom to choose our character. Rather than simply play as the identical Mario or Luigi, each character in Super Mario Bros. 2 plays slightly different and created a variable difficulty setting that was ahead of its time. Besides, how many other non spin-off games give you the option to play as Toad? Surprisingly, playing as Mario was considerably the hardest option. Who woulda thunk?

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Super Mario Bros. 2 | Thematics

The theme is a rather jarring departure from the series. Super Mario Bros. 2 adopts an Arabian adventure aspect with deserts, magic carpets, vipers in pottery replacing goombas, pipes, and question blocks. This is all very unexpected when looking at the series as a whole, but I rather enjoyed this theme. The music is especially charming and satisfying. Compared to the original game which had a very limited soundtrack (if you can even call it that), Super Mario Bros. 2 boasts a higher quantity of music tracks. Additionally, the Super Mario Bros. 2 theme song composed by Koji Kondo, is reminiscent of the ragtime piano genre and is possibly the single most recognized theme of the entire franchise, only being rivaled by the SMB 1 theme song.

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Super Mario Bros. 2 | Was it just a dream?

Super Mario Bros. 2 is quite the historic landmark title for early Nintendo video games. Despite the game’s incredible success, the powers that be at Nintendo have not chose to return to this style thus far. Because of this, the game remains a unique and authentic experience. Even though a direct sequel was never created, many of the theme’s elements, including its exclusive characters, have made appearances in other games and media. These appearances include the Mario cartoons, countless merchandise, Wart’s appearance in Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and Shy Guy’s and Birdo’s being integrated more into the franchise.

Super Mario Bros. 2 NES | Princess Peach Game Play Video



Mizaster J shows off segments from his Princess Peach speed run.

Super Mario Bros. 2 | Verdict

I personally love Super Mario Bros. 2 even more than the original SMB. The controls, animation, sound, and graphics all contribute to an unforgettable experience. This has helped Nintendo establish an incredibly high standard of quality for its video games.

Super Mario Bros. 2
A prestigious 4.75 outta 5.

I’d love to read your comments. Please let me know below if you can beat my speed run!