Game Review

Super Mario Bros. 2 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

A strange, but entertaining dream

It should be no secret by now, so let's get it out of the way first - Yes, the Super Mario Bros. 2 that most of us know, that is, this one, is technically not really a Mario game. Originally released in Japan as Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic (Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic), it was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, and starred an Arabian-esque family of four instead of the cast you're familiar with.

The Super Mario Bros. 2 that Japan got was pretty much just a much harder version of the original Super Mario Bros., and, supposedly fearing that it would be too hard for the west, Nintendo instead decided to replace the protagonists in Doki Doki Panic with Mario characters (As well as some other small changes), and release it in the west as our Super Mario Bros. 2. Later, they then went and released the edited version in Japan as Super Mario Bros. USA!

As this game does not have its origins as a Mario title, you'll immediately notice some major differences from the rest of the series, starting before you even begin playing properly. You'll be presented with a choice between Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad before every stage - All of them have their own strengths and weaknesses, so if you fail with one, you might be able to succeed with another.

When you actually gain control, you'll notice some more oddities. Jumping on enemies here won't immediately defeat them - instead, you'll simply stand on top of them and can basically ride them around. You can then press B to lift them up, after which you'll be able to throw them anywhere you want! Every level is also littered with tiny weeds that you can pull up in a similar manner to reveal throwable vegetables, bombs, potions that create magic doors which can lead to a variety of secrets, and more.

Levels in this game are generally quite a bit more complex than those in its predecessor and sequel. You'll have to find keys to unlock locked doors, blow up rocks with uprooted bombs, dig through sand pits to find items or pathways below, and even occasionally ride flying enemies or magic carpets to cross large chasms. You can also usually find several rooms that do not need to be accessed, but they can be nice to visit for extra health and other items.

Curiously, at the end of almost every single level, you'll have to deal with a boss, which is usually one of three different types of Birdo. After the fight concludes, or occasionally when there is no fight, you'll have to pick up the glowing ball that appears to open a large mounted hawk head, which ends the level and lets you play a roulette game for extra lives, provided you found coins. After the last level of each world (Of which there are seven total), you'll also have to square off against a slightly tougher boss, culminating in a fight against the final boss Wart, who surprisingly has not appeared in a single Mario game since.

Graphically and musically the game still holds up quite well. The game world is quite a bit more vibrant and feels more alive than that of the first Super Mario Bros., and while history proves that SMB2's main theme was not as memorable as the Mario theme, the game has a catchy soundtrack nonetheless, despite only having a few songs, much like the first title.


It's a bit of an oddball to players familiar with other Mario games, sure, but the fact that it's so different from the rest of the series is what makes Super Mario Bros. 2 such an entertaining game. If you want a fun but unusual Mario experience, look no further - this is pretty much the textbook definition of it.

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User Comments (34)



retro_player_22 said:

Even for being a different Mario game, this game still plays great. Nintendo sure knows how to switch theme around their games. The original Japanese Doki Doki Panic was change into Super Mario Bros. 2 in the US and later re-released in Japan as Super Mario USA. This isn't the last time Nintendo change the theme of a game, later in the Super NES era, they did the same thing with Panel de Pon (A Japanese block switching puzzle title by Intelligent Systems) for the Super NES. They replaced all the characters and settings of the Japan original to those from Yoshi's Island and renamed it Tetris Attack, borrowing the Tetris name just for the sake of selling it and it works, just like Super Mario Bros. 2. The bad news is tht even though the Japanese audience later got a version of that game (called Yoshi de Pon in Japan), the audience in our North American shore never got a chance to experience the real Doki Doki Panic and Panel de Pon game in its original form.



Shinnok said:

I found this game to be rather boring. They recycle the same few songs over and over, in traditional Mario fashion. But to make it worse, the bosses are always the same two guys. I have this for the NES, I'll just stick with it.



Bass_X0 said:

Same two guys? Mouser (appears twice, Claw Grip and Triclyde (appears twice)



Shinnok said:

Birdo and Mouser are the only bosses you fight throughout the entire course of the game.



Bass_X0 said:

Wrong. There is Claw Grip (crab) and Triclyde (three headed snake) too. And Wart.



Shinnok said:

Right, I forgot Wart. Regardless though, that's still only five bosses total, with many, many, many repeat performances.



thejuiceatuf said:

Thank you Bass for putting forth factual information. Although this is by no means the best of the Mario series, I still find it to be a highly enjoyable experience. God forbid Nintendo try to change it up a little. Now I'm in the mood for a little Mario 2....



Shinnok said:

Oh yes Bass, thank you so much "for putting forth factual information". But just because he corrected me, doesn't change the fact that this game is a piece of garbage. The review states that the levels have variety. Are they kidding? It's the same caves and grassy hills over, and over. The music is repetitive, since there are only a couple of tracks, and I said it best about the bosses giving "repeat performances".

The first Super Mario Bros. had an excuse for being crap, it was created before man discovered fire. But even that had more substance than this abomination.

Luckily, they corrected all of the problems when they developed Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World. Now, playing those games was a "highly enjoyable experience".



sponge said:

didnt mario 3 have the same 8 bosses? airship, koopaling, repeat.
mario 1 - the princess is in another castle 7 times.
if anything, mario 2 had MORE variety, not less. admit it, you just sucked at it. you forgot wart because you never got there. hahaha

the game is AWESOME.



sponge said:

just beat it for the first time less than a week ago. still stoked. black sheep as it may be, still very happy we got this game. way better than the real mario 2 (lost levels)



Shinnok said:

Super Mario Bros. 2 had no variety in it, just like the first entry. It used the same levels, music, and bosses over, and over, and over. Super Mario Bros. 3 did too, but unlike this steaming pile of dog crap, that game was worth playing. If I do suck at this game, it's because I've never made time to get any better at it. You see, I have an eye for quality, a trait you and I clearly don't share. But if it'll make you feel smart, or accepted to say that I suck, then by all means, shout it from the rooftops! As for this game, a 2/10!



sponge said:

there you go again with the variety argument about a game you admit you didnt like or play much. this is where you are getting the criticism, because its just not true. but whatever man.

really, its your loss that you never gave the game a chance. no worries.

but dont get mad because you got called out.



Shinnok said:

I beat the first couple of worlds, so I got a pretty good feel for the game. It just repeats itself again, and again, and again. Plus, what I didn't complete I saw my little brother finish, who hated it also. It's just a bad game. But hey, no worries!



pikmin95 said:

Just respect his opinion, guys. Not everyone likes this game - I don't either.



Kid_A said:

I actually really like this game. It's really different, and really weird, but I like that sort of thing. I wish they'd make another Mario game like it. I love the vegitable-picking gameplay.



blackknight77 said:

I love this game and Fry Guy is another boss you missed. He is in World 4.

"way better than the real mario 2 (lost levels)" I fully agree with that



Fuzzy said:

Weird, but still lots of fun. I've had the game on my wii for a while now, but still haven't finished it yet!



The_Indigo_Effect said:

You could try respecting Shinnok's opinion, but none of his points are actually valid. Sponge had an excellent rebuttal by stating that Super Mario Bros. 1 and 3 actually have LESS variety than Super Mario Bros. 2. Furthermore, I don't recall Shinnok showing any respect to the ones he was arguing against.



I didn't really like this game either. It just feels like the same thing over and over again.



michaelmax said:

I know a lot of people who think this is the best of the first 3 mario's. I can't pick a favorite. The first one is great because it's classic. The second is great because it's the most unique, and the third is just all-around amazing! Got this one because my wife wanted it. It's a great game for it's time but to me it hasn't aged as well as 1 or 3. Still awesome though.



FinalFantisiac said:

Some people find it a bit frustrating how at the end of the game, it is revealed to you that the entire game is in fact a dream Mario had; which means the game 'never existed', almost making it seem as if you did all you could to finish the game, and in the end realize that is was all for nothing. Some people feel that, however I don't.



RowdyRodimus said:

@VirtualConsoleGuy but was it just a dream or did Wart pull Mario into the dream world? I mean, c'mon this is the same series that lets castles be taken into outer space by mean of a flying boat. Anything is possible, in fact, I have a theory that the entire Nintendo universe is centered in the 1960's during a hippie love in by a guy tripping on acid. But that's a completely different story there.



SuperMarioFan1995 said:

This game does deserve an 8/10. It really doesn't feel like a Mario game. SMB, SMB3 and SMW are far superior. It's still a good game, don't give me wrong, but it just feels like a plain joke to me (especially Sunshine).

What also makes this game worse is the higher difficulty level, IMO. The later levels are so dang frustrating.

You know what Mario game is much harder than this one? The Lost Levels, that one is just TOO HARD!!!



Yadoking said:

2 is my favourite of the original 3. I didn't play Super Mario Bros. as a youngin' much, so if anyone is trying to see a pattern in the likes or dislikes of the Mario games and why, hope I helped some.



Davidmoreaux said:

I liked this game and this was the first Mario game I beat when I was a kid. I think it is not as hard as 1 but still fun to play and I like being able to pick diffrent characters. I think it is way better than Lost Levels because that game is really hard.



atariman said:

By the way. I think this is the worst NES game evver made. 2/10. I'm sorry but I really hate this game. the only cool thing is you can be mario, luigi, peach,and toad. that gives the game a one star better. 2/10.



atariman said:

if it warn't for the cool option of playing as luigi, peach, and toad, then this game would of been a 1/10.



atariman said:

@Shinnok I think I have to agree with you on the super mario bros 2 NES review you did. I think that this game is a 2/10. it is not my favorite.



Big_A2 said:

"By the way. I think this is the worst NES game evver made."

Hahaha. Good one kid.

I used to dislike the game because it was different but now that I’m older and can put gaming prejudices aside I think it's really cool. It's a lot of fun and very addicting, with very creative level and enemy design. Plus, given that the source material was from most of the same team that made SMB1, it doesn’t feel like a drop in quality or too out of place compared to the other Mario NES games. It was a great idea to release this in the west instead of Lost Levels, which, difficulty aside, was far too similar to its predecessor.



BrickRockwell said:

This game rocks. Awesome music, bizarre themes, a feeling of otherworldiness that nothing else in the mario universe has ever come close to... the ability to play through as four different characters who actually have their different perks and detriments... good, clean visuals and interesting level progression (grabbing the key from the top and bringing it back down past the entrance to the bottom of one level, going inside vases, going vertically up screens as well as horizontally {which was missing from SMB1}, etc.) A rockin' good time.
Not as timeless as the first Super Mario Bros., or as packed to the gills with quality as Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario Bros. 2 is the classic Nintendo franchise middle-child: different from the rest and feeling a little dispossessed.

Call it an 8 out of 10,or a 4 out of 5; but whatever you do, make it feel at home : )

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