Child’s Play: Undying Love for Super Mario Bros 2

Super Mario CupcakesBooks, movies, music, video games – it’s all part of how we entertain ourselves.  Sometimes they overlap and get adapted from their original form into a different type of media.  Super Mario Bros is a classic form of this in the fact that it was not only a video game (a serialized one at that) but it was also a TV show.  That lovable plumber has been a part of our lives for 20 years, and my favorite part is actually the least popular choice.

From the time of my 4th birthday when I received my very first Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), to my 7th birthday when I got my Super-NES, to my 13th when I got my Nintendo 64, 16th Gamecube or 24th Wii, I could always count on Super Mario to come to my birthday party. My wife even had a super mushroom groom’s cake made for me at our wedding and Mario themed cakes and cupcakes at my grad school surprise party. My son’s room is decked out with 8-bit Mario wall decals. My Mario pedigree is official and thorough.

The deep veracity of Mario fandom is important because what I am about to say next will smack of blasphemy to many. I want to announce my undying love for the game so-called in America, Super Mario Bros. 2. Many consider SMB2 to be a blight on the series for a variety of reasons.

…But, Why?

A major reason for this is that SMB2 breaks with the format of the other games in the franchise.  Sure, it’s a side scrolling adventure game but, you don’t jump on the heads of enemies to kill them—in fact jumping on their heads allows you most often to ride them—but instead you lift vegetables from the earth or other objects/enemies and launch them at your prey. This game also does not occur in the Mushroom Kingdom, but rather in the ephemeral realm of Subcon (more about that later).

There is nary a Koopa to be found, and the adversary of concern is a frog named Wart—who is some kind of combination of Bowser and King Dedede from the Kirby games.  Also you choose from Mario, Luigi, Toad, and the Princess at the start of each level as a playable character. You are not saving the Princess — in fact, she is an actual playable character. She isn’t in another castle, she isn’t being held in anyone’s thrall, or baking any cakes—she’s getting her hands dirty for the first time in the series.

The History of Super Mario Bros 2

The most influential reason that people tend to discount this game from the series, however, is that it isn’t actually a Super Mario game. In Japan the game was initially released as a title called Doki Doki Panic. It had nothing to do with Mario at all. However, the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 was insanely difficult. So difficult that Nintendo decided that stupid Americans were too stupid to want to play it. So they switched some sprites and pixels and –bazinga—you’ve got Super Mario Bros 2 (USA). Years later Nintendo would re-release the games  as Super Mario Bros. USA and Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels in Japan and the US respectively.

BUT! When I was five years old I didn’t know any of that. All I knew was the Princess could basically fly; not only useful but bad ass. Also I loved that the game was not like the original Mario Bros or Super Mario Bros (and later SMB3). It was different! Unique! And it fit in (for more theories on the importance of these three things read Ten Years Gone: Pomp and Circumstance). It had the familiar characters I loved in a new world, with new moves, new enemies, and new power-ups!

How awesome was that potion that sent you into the shadow world? How fun was the slot machine game for extra lives? The colors were vibrant, and the game made a real impact on the course of the franchise. Without SMB2 we wouldn’t have Shyguys, Bob-Ombs, Luigi’s crazy jump, mini-games, or Mario’s ability to lift and throw.

The music is fresh and different, the game play is solid, and the design (from maps, to sprites, to levels) are fun and engaging. The game is chocked full of secrets and cheats. To this day I time myself in trying to beat it in run through (my top time using cheats and warps is 35 minutes).  The game was even endorsed by the Super Mario Bros. Super Show cartoon.

I challenge anyone who player-hates on Super Mario Bros. 2 (or Super Mario USA) to play it through with a fresh set of calloused thumbs. It’s worth the play—if not to just find out where all those Mario-Sports extra characters come from!


9 thoughts on “Child’s Play: Undying Love for Super Mario Bros 2

  1. Amen brotha. I got mad love for SMB2. I also absolutely LOVE Zelda 2, even though that is considered the black sheep by many wayward fools. I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.

  2. @djmarmon I agree with you on both counts. A lot of people hate on Zelda II but its a great game. James the Angry Video Game Nerd actually said it best (paraphrase) when he said that people get upset because Zelda II is the only primarily side scrolling game in the series but, at the time there were only two Zelda games anyway. When we were kids it really seemed like Nintendo was challenging their formats in sequels, which was awesome. It kind of sets the precedent for people being made at rehash sequels (Michael Bay this means movies too!)

  3. I read the whole thing and cuzzo I like smb2 it was a good game and I think it was my first mario game cause I remember when I was younger pulling vegatables out of the ground and throwing them.

  4. I can’t stand the hate on SMB2. This was one of my fave mario games to date. It’s the only reason I like SM All stars so much. Don’t you hate it when a different direction is taken by accident or on purpose and people destroy it critically, yet these tend to be the same people that get mad at developers for making the same game over and over again? You can’t hate on the new Zelda game and call it the same old story, and then turn around and hate Zelda II, IMO.

  5. @JordanJojuHernandez Well, Jordan that might just be from that time ou lived on the farm when you were little! Haha…ooops hope I didn’t spill the beans on that one.

    Seriously though, thanks for the comment!

  6. @efa682 Its the same snark the exists in Comic Book circles IMO. You can’t beg for new stories and want the dead ones back (looking at you DC fans!!) and then flip out when you get it. Seems like a strong leaning for a Zelda II article round these parts…

  7. Call me old school, but I can’t deny my love for the 2 simple choices of Mario and Luigi while they dodge man eating plants and cannon balls. Then again, my skill level is that of small child so you probably can’t even take my opinion seriously.

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