Game Review

Yume Koujou Doki Doki Panic Review

Japan Japan Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Super Mario Bros. 2, minus the Super Mario Bros.

Depending on who you ask, you're likely to hear quite a few different variations on the story of how Yume Doujou Doki Doki Panic came to be. Some say it was originally intended to be a Super Mario Bros. game but ended up taking on a life all its own at the hands of video game developer extraordinaire Shigeru Miyamoto, while others claim it was always meant to be a completely original platforming title. Either way, the game has gone on to become quite an influential title in the video game world, so much so that it would go on to become the third biggest-selling NES title in history - a fairly impressive feat considering it was almost not released outside of Japan at all.

In 1987, Nintendo of America was anxiously awaiting the follow-up to their mammoth hit Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Unfortunately, when members of Nintendo of America finally got the chance to play the sequel, they were shocked at the exceedingly high level of difficulty of the game, not to mention the fact that it looked like little more than a remixed version of the original release. After careful consideration and ample panicking, Nintendo of America decided to take another Famicom platformer called Yume Koujou Doki Doki Panic and replace the characters with the more familiar Super Mario cast and turn it into the game that would be released as Super Mario Bros. 2 for gamers outside of Japan. And so it was done.

If you've played Super Mario Bros. 2 (and if you haven't then shame on you) then you'll feel right at home with Yume Koujou Doki Doki Panic from the get go. While it's basically the same game overall, there are quite a few changes that give this title its own unique look and feel. For starters, there is no run button in this release, so you'll quickly have to learn to navigate the game's tricky platforming sections without a running start. What this does is put an increased emphasis on using the crouching power jump, a move you'd better learn to make quick use of if you're going to reach some of the higher ledges strung throughout the game.

Much like Super Mario Bros. 2, you'll still be able to pull up vegetables and other useful items from the ground in order to toss them at enemies. You'll even be able to access the sub-world, only instead of tossing a magic potion to open up the portal door, you'll instead hurl a magic lamp. This is where you can add heart containers to your health and pick up coins to use on the slot machine at the end of the each level.

You'll progress through seven different areas in the game, each containing three levels per area. As in Super Mario Bros. 2, you'll still face off with most of the same bosses at the end of each area, although Clawgrip is sadly missing, replaced instead with a second and much more challenging encounter with Mouser. Of course the traditional warps are all still in place as well, and thankfully they're in exactly the same places they are in the western title.

The solid control of Super Mario Bros. 2 is still in full force, but getting used to playing the game minus the run button does take a little while. In some ways it makes this release easier and in other ways it makes it more difficult; you'll find escaping from the nefarious Phanto Masks to be a much trickier ordeal without the ability to sprint.

One nice touch of Doki Doki Panic is the ability to save your place with each character you use, always starting back just after the last world you've completed. Of course the catch is that in order to beat the game, you must defeat Wart with all four characters - a fairly tall order even with the ability to save your progress. Thankfully the smooth and responsive play control is there to help make the challenge a manageable affair for those willing to put in the time to completely conquer the game.

Although Doki Doki Panic looks extremely similar to the familiar Super Mario Bros. 2, there are quite a few visual changes throughout the game. Most of these differences are merely cosmetic and tend to revolve around the game's slightly annoying animation deficiencies - unlike the US release, the vines and plants don't feature any type of animated movements. Of course the game more than makes up for this lack of movement with its blisteringly fast seizure-inducing waterfalls. It won't take you but one play through of area 3-1 to see why Nintendo greatly slowed the pace of these waterfalls for their Super Mario Bros. 2 outing.

Because the Famicom Disk System featured an added FM synthesis audio channel, the music tracks in Doki Doki Panic tend to sound just a little bit enhanced at times. It's generally a minor difference in most tracks, but one that any serious Super Mario Bros. 2 fan will likely be able to immediately pick out in each area. This added audio channel is also used to add various sound effects to quite a few of the enemies in the game, including a rather entertaining growling sound from Birdo during your many encounters with her. Much like the visual presentation, the differences are minor, but add an element of fun to the experience for those who've longed to play the original version of the game.


It's difficult to justify the cost of purchasing a Japanese Famicom console and Disk System attachment just to play the game that ultimately became one of our legendary Super Mario Bros. classics. Most gamers will be content to simply enjoy the western localisation and call it a day, but for the more curious fans of the game it might at least be worth considering and there's a definite buzz about experiencing the game the way it was originally intended. Sure it's a bit weird at first playing the game without the familiar faces of Mario and his chums, but when it's all said and done it's still well worth a look for any serious Nintendo and Super Mario Bros. fan.

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User Comments (37)



Damo said:

Fantastic review, Corbie. This is a real piece of history and something that many Nintendo fans won't be aware of, I'll wager.



LinktotheFuture said:

That is crazy that there isn't a run button. If this came on the VC, I would defintely download it and give it a go.



Bass_X0 said:

It might not be the real Super Mario Bros. 2 but Nintendo of America were right in choosing Doki Doki Panic as the basis for their Super Mario Bros. 2 over Japan's Super Mario Bros. 2. The Mario history may have turned out very differently if American gamers were largely put off Mario games because of the high difficulty of Japan's game.



blackknight77 said:

Wow I never knew they did not include a run button. It would be nice if they did bring it to the VC as a little odd piece of Nintendo history.



tomjcd said:

I own this for the famicom disc system, and imo it's not nearly as good as Super Mario Bros. 2. NOA added a lot of graphical detail for the american release and Doki Doki Panic looks very bland in comparison. With no ability to run either, it just doesn't stand up to the western release. We definitely got the superior version.



Betagam7 said:

I was just thinking about this game the other day and wondering about whether Nintendo might ever offer it on the VC. They've always tended to be a bit silly and secretive about things that exist in other regions (as if the internet doesn't exist) but that seems to have changed recently with import titles hitting the VC so it would seem a no brainer to release this...then again this is the company that took three years to release Super Mario Kart so...



warioswoods said:

The most enjoyable version of this was Super Mario Advance, with the large enemies and other little additions.

I will always consider this game a fully legitimate part of the Mario canon, despite the naysayers. Miyamoto was much more closely involved in this game's design than he was in the Japanese SM2; and of course it wasn't just here that this game appeared with Mario characters, but it went back over for release in Japan as Super Mario 2 USA.



warioswoods said:

Ah yes, close enough But it's clearly a part of the Mario canon, in that so many elements introduced in this game have become standard for the series (from Bob-ombs to Shyguys).



Crunc said:

Interesting - I'd pick this up if it were released on the VC here in the US. Hopefully it will be at some point.



odd69 said:

I never got to play this, if it comes to vc, I'll swipe it up really quick



bro2dragons said:

I'd like to see one of these little turban-touting characters make a Smash Bros. appearance....



StarBoy91 said:

Great review, Corbie.
I love Super Mario Bros. 2 (more than the original, I gotta admit), and I'm sure playing the intended version will be a good experience as well.



BlueFlameBat said:

I'd be willing to shell out 600 points for the original on the VC, especially if the ability to run was added. I haven't bought the American Super Mario Bros 2 on the VC yet because I already own it on my actual NES, on my SNES as part of Super Mario All-Stars, and my Game Boy Advance.



Ricardo91 said:

Interesting choice for a review. We definitely got the better deal with this instead of the real Mario 2. It had much more of an impact on the series than the original would've had. I'd really like to see it on VC someday, if only for comparison's sake.



Twilight_Crow said:

Awesome review Corbie, never imagined you were going to review this, it sounds so different, and unique, as a SMB2 fan, I wish I could give it a try.



Adamant said:

Had the game not been Mario-ed up, I'm sure it'd have eventually been released overseas anyway, though. It went above and beyond it's competition in NES platforming at the time, and had nothing about it that would make any bigwigs think it wouldn't appeal to western tastes. It wasn't just "a good game", at it's time it was "the best".



Stuffgamer1 said:

@Adamant: Actually, it probably would NOT have been released out West in its original form, since the original form was based around a distinctly Japanese character license. I suppose they could have come up with some other random thing to replace them with, but Mario was definitely the best choice, IMO.

I'm not really interested in playing the original version, especially without a run button. I'm quite happy with Super Mario Advance anyway. Good review all the same, though.



TheLonelyGamer said:

Man that sucks, no run button, and I use running a lot when it comes to Mario games. But I would still like to play this.



Sylverstone said:

Wow, no run button?

I played it and yeah, it was pretty awesome, with or without the Mario references.



StarBoy91 said:

[warning: happy alert ]
You know what the best part is?
Not only did this game (which turned into Super Mario Bros. 2 in the West) introduce one of the gameplay elements of Donkey Kong for the Game Boy Pocket (the one that plays a little like the arcade game, only with more gameplay elements), but it also introduced to us the Shyguys! I like the Shyguys. Glad they make another appearance in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.



Kurachi said:

i doubt they would release it on VC, as we got SMB 2(USA)
and i wouldnt download it, as its 2 same games, except for mostly the sprites, and i have SMB2 (USA) already

they did make a good change with mario chars, like letting us use toad, which was merely a background char

i must say it looks funny, and if they would get profit by putting it on VC, they should do so



WindWakerLink said:

After reading this review, I really want to try this game now. "No run button? And a more challenging Mouser battle? That's exciting!!"

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