Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Platform Game Mega Review: Super Mario Bros. - The Lost Levels

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels was the formerly Japan-only sequel to Super Mario Bros. Known as Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan, Nintendo of America deemed it too difficult. Instead, a game created from a vertical scrolling Mario demo for Fuji TV's "Dream Factory '87" event, Doki Doki Panic, was converted into a full-fledged Mario game. 

The converted game was released in the United States and Europe as Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and was released in Japan as Super Mario Bros. USA. The Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 wasn't released in Western countries until it was included in the collection of enhanced ports for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Mario All-Stars, as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels in 1993.

The idea for a sequel to Super Mario Bros. came while developing VS. Super Mario Bros. for the arcade market. The team at Shigeru Miyamoto's Nintendo Research & Development 4 had so much fun creating new levels for Super Mario Bros. that they decided to make enough new levels to fill out an entire game. 

The resulting game was originally released in Japan in 1986 on the Family Computer Disk System, the floppy drive expansion for the Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Its mechanics were like Super Mario Bros., for the most part. It still had Mario and Luigi as the playable characters, however, the game was only for one player. This marked the first time the abilities of the brothers differed. Mario controlled exactly as the Mario brothers had previously in Super Mario Bros. and its VS. System arcade counterpart. However, Luigi had different abilities. He could jump higher and farther, however, his controls were a bit more slippery, meaning that the choice between the two was up to personal preference rather than simply aesthetics or which controller you happened to use.

The gameplay also had some differences as well. The coins, blocks, growth-granting mushrooms, 1-UP extra life mushrooms, fireball-granting fireflowers, and invincibility starmen were all here. However, the game also had poison mushrooms. Grabbing these would shrink the player if they were large and kill them if they were small. In addition, there were also levels with the wind that would push the player backward as well as warp pipes that would take the player backward in levels as well as forward.

The stage layouts were also different. There were larger gaps, and harder-to-find invincible blocks, among other challenging changes, making it a much harder game than the Super Mario Bros. titles that came before.

Western audiences finally received the game, titled Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, for the Super Nintendo Entertainment Entertainment system. This was an enhanced port that featured updated graphics and music in the Super Mario All-Stars compilation. 

It was later released with the same graphics and music as the original as an unlockable called Super Mario Bros. for Super Players in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe for the Game Boy Color. It had one difference, though. The Game Boy Color screen was a smaller resolution than that of the NES. Thus, the screen follows Mario. The fact that the top and bottom of the screen may not be visible at any given time makes this version slightly more difficult than the original.

The original Family Computer Disk System version was also released worldwide, via emulation, for the Virtual Console on Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS.

Super Mario Bros. is a classic that I recommend playing for everyone, however, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels doesn't reach that level. It's a neat curio for Super Mario fans, and for those platform game fans who want a challenge. However, it's not a mandatory play. There is a reason the poison mushroom is rarely used in other Super Mario games.

Final Verdict:
3½ out of 5