Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Platform Game Mega Review: Super Mario Bros 2./Super Mario USA/Dream Factory '87: Doki Doki Panic

Super Mario Bros. 2 is known as Super Mario USA in Japan. The reason for this was that Japan received its own Super Mario Bros. 2, which is a harder version of Super Mario Bros. This game is known outside of Japan as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels or Super Mario Bros. for Super Players. Super Mario Bros. 2 is actually a reskin of Dream Factory: Doki Doki Panic, a game that Nintendo developed for the Fuji TV Dream Factory '87 event.

Super Mario Bros. 2 is actually a very different Super Mario game compared to the other games in the series, yet it still feels familiar. The concept for the game originally came from a vertically scrolling Super Mario prototype. The vertical scrolling actually worked well for this game and was later used in Super Mario Bros. 3 as well.

The original Doki Doki Panic version took place in a storybook. However, this was changed to a land named Subcon, which can be visited by a person's subconscious while they sleep. Fans of Super Mario RPGs will recognize the concept, as, within them, dream worlds have been covered extensively.

In this game, there are four playable characters. The original Doki Doki Panic has Arabian characters named Papa, Mama, Imajin, and Lina. The localization replaced them with Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach, Princess Toadstool of the Mushroom Kingdom. Papa and Mario have medium vegetable-grabbing speeds and a low jump. Luigi and Mama have slow-grabbing speeds and a high jump. I quite enjoy Luigi's animation of his running legs while jumping. Toad and Imajin have fast-grabbing speeds and medium jumps. Lina and Peach round them out with slow-grabbing speeds and medium jumps as well as the ability to float for a short period of time.

In this game, jumping on an enemy doesn't defeat it. You have to grab the enemy and throw it at another enemy to defeat it. You can also grab plants from the ground, which can also be thrown at enemies. Sometimes the grass pulled up from the ground can contain items such as shells which can be kicked at enemies, bombs, keys, health powerups, and other useful items. All versions of the game have the ability to collect powerups that allow the chosen character to be hit more than once. The Super Mario version shrinks the character when they only have one life left.

All versions of the game, including the enhanced remake included in Super Mario All-Stars, contain some of the catchiest music among all of the Super Mario games. This is saying a lot, as the Super Mario games always have excellent, catchy tunes. I still get the song stuck in my head that plays from the moment the door opens into the adventure in the first level of the game.

Eschewing most Super Mario games, there are six worlds with three levels each, and a final seventh world with two levels. This game also has a toad named Mamu, or Wart in the international versions. Interestingly, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening contains a cameo from Mamu, whose name remains unlocalized. I really like that they used a different villain than Bowser, King of the Koopa. It's also great that Peach wasn't captured, but actually contributes to an adventure for a change.

All of the versions of Super Mario Bros. 2 are worth playing, whether you play Dream Factory: Doki Doki Panic, Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario USA, or the enhanced remake in Super Mario All-Stars. It contains great music, great level design, and some of the most original and fun platforming mechanics that I've ever encountered while playing platform games.

Addendum January 2, 2023: I forgot about the enhanced remake of the Super Mario version, which is known as Super Mario Advance on the Game Boy Advance. This version is based on the Super Mario All-Stars version, however, it has limited voice acting. It also has lighter colors than the Super Mario Bros. 2 in Super Mario All-Stars so that it is easily visible on the original Game Boy Advance, which didn't have a backlight.

Addendum January 28, 2023: There is also an arcade version for the PlayChoice-10. This version is identical to the NES version, except there is a time limit in place where the game will quit when time runs out.

Final Verdict:
5 out of 5
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