Thursday 29 October 2015

Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES review)

Developer: Nintendo R&D4
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1988

Super Mario Bros. 2 is a platform game that's basically a reskin of Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic (Famicom Disk System, 1987).

The setting isn't very Mario-like but it does feature the first appearance of familiar characters such as Bob-ombs and Shy Guy. Before each level you can play as either Mario (all-rounder), Luigi (highest jumper), Toad (fastest) or Princess Toadstool (can temporarily float). This gives added replay value and it's fun learning which one to use depending on the situation. You can't kill enemies by jumping on them and instead you need to pick up objects such as vegetables to throw at them; it's fun, especially as you can take out several bad guys in a row if you're skilled! Although there's still lots of platforming you'll be riding magic carpets, blowing up walls and stacking up blocks to reach higher platforms. There's even some areas where you need to use vines to cross gaps which reminds me of Donkey Kong Jr.! (1982, Arcades). The mix of horizontal and vertically scrolling levels keeps things interesting but I would have liked more variety in the world design; there are some ice and sky levels but generally you'll be navigating through underground caverns and deserts. The checkpoints are fair so each time you die you never have to repeat large sections. At the end of the first two acts in each world you face Birdo who throws eggs that you need to catch and throw back to defeat it; although these battles are frequent they never become stale as its attack patterns change to include deadly fireballs and rapid fire egg tosses. The bosses are good and you'll actually have to learn their patterns unlike Bowser in the original. The music is catchy and I love that when you pause the game the tracks continue with bass only!

Super Mario Bros. 2 is seen as the black sheep of the series yet if you take it at face value it's seriously enjoyable with tons of gameplay variety and just the right level of challenge. Everything it sets out to achieve is well executed and it's definitely worth picking up on either the NES or on Super Mario All-Stars (1993, SNES).

Random trivia: Japan received a very different version of Super Mario Bros. 2; it played like the original but with greatly increased difficulty. Watch this video for more info.

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