Super Mario Bros. 2 was one of the best selling NES games out there. By now the history of the game is fairly well known, but if you don't know the story here's a refresher. Super Mario Bros. 2 stands out as the black sheep of the series for its different play mechanics and character design; that's because it was made from a previously existing game called Doki Doki Panic.
Japan got a different Super Mario Bros. 2 entirely, which is now known as "The Lost Levels" to us. Doki Doki Panic itself was built up from a demo that was intended originally to be Super Mario Bros. 2 before The Lost Levels was released, which make the backstory all the more interesting. Doki Doki Panic has four characters that were from something in Japan called "Yume Kōjō," translated in English as "dream factory." Not much is known about that other than that it was "an event" that would promote Fuji TV, a Japanese television network.
However, I've recently come across a book that explains everything and found out some interesting facts involving Doki Doki Panic and its characters. The book was printed in December 1987 and covers the complete story behind Yume Kōjō. It was more than just an event, it was a technology expo and world bazaar that had to be seen to be believed. The event was thought up in 1984 when Fuji TV producers took a trip to Brazil and took part in Carnival. They enjoyed it so much they were inspired to hold some type of festival in Japan with the same atmosphere. The full name of this event would be "Communication Carnival Yume Kōjō '87." It would promote Fuji TV and display new technology for families and especially children to interact with and enjoy. Children and youthfulness was a key element to Yume Kōjō, as the children of 1987 would become the first adults of the 21st century.
Imagination and dreams were highlights of Yume Kōjō. Strange masks called "Imaginia Masks" were worn by performers and attendees as well. They were Italian in design and meant to convey the feelings of mystery and youth. The designers and staff of each area were known as Imagination Engineers, or "Imagineers." There were 3D movies and high-definition TVs (don't forget they weren't commonplace 30 years ago). Other events included a giant disco club, a computer match making service and a very large videogame area. There were also large open grounds for concerts and performances. Also, though Yume Kōjō has been translated as "Dream Factory" in English, it was never referred to as that in Japan, taking the English title of "Dream Machine" instead.
You might ask yourself, if this happened in 1987 why is it the 30th birthday of Imajin, the star of Doki Doki Panic? The promotion of Yume Kōjō began one year to the day before the grand opening, July 18, 1986. It was on this day that Fuji TV executives and on-air talent announced the event and debuted the characters in a short commercial. They also showed for the first time an "Imaginia Mask," which influenced the theme of the game Doki Doki Panic and later Super Mario Bros. 2. As enemies like Shyguys and Tweeters wear masks and Phanto and the stage exits are masks as well.
The promotion continued in stages for a full year, with the next stage being the theme song to Yume Kōjō which was performed by a rock band, which was also named Yume Kojo! The song, "Arabian Nights" was put into heavy rotation in Japan and it also carried over to the character Imajin and his family as they dress in Arabian style clothing and the game has some desert scenes and a magic lamp is used to transport the characters to Sub-con as well. (It was changed to a flask in Super Mario Bros. 2.) The game Doki Doki Panic itself was but one of the promotional tools used for the event, and was released on July 10, 1987, just 8 days before the grand opening.
There's much more information than this that has been uncovered in this book; to learn the full story, please check out the video below. It's an interesting, very detailed look at how one event changed the course of the Mario universe forever.
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