Super Mario Bros. 2

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North American box art.

Super Mario Bros. 2 is an action platformer by Nintendo. This game is not the real Super Mario Bros. 2, which was released in Japan in 1986, but wasn't released in America because Nintendo assumed the game would be too difficult for American players. Instead, Nintendo took their 1987 Famicom Disk System game, Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic, and changed some of the graphics around to make it a Mario game.

I don't remember when I first played Super Mario Bros. 2, but I do remember not liking it. I found the new environment to be too different from the original. No goombas, no koopas, not breaking bricks, and you can ride on enemies? After awhile, the game grew on me, and I started to appreciate it more, but it never became a favorite of mine.


I own the American release, but I have never beaten it.


  • Overall: 6/10
  • Best Version: NES


  • The game is pretty damn creative. The changing environments, the various enemies, the ability to switch between playable characters, these are all great ideas.
  • The graphics are well-drawn and animated, especially the cartoonish enemy sprites which are adorable.
  • The music is quite enjoyable. Koji Kondo's use of the DPCM channel for drums is quite nice.
  • The game is a good challenge. It becomes pretty damn hard near the end, but not unfair.
  • Allowing players to choose between various player characters, each with their own abilities, was a cool idea.
  • The level design is great: warps, secret passages, and jumps that benefit the slower high-jumping characters. I especially like the idea of riding an enemy across a large chasm.


  • Player control isn't as good as it could be. Jumping feels sluggish and not as controllable as you would want.
  • For American players, the game has nothing to do with the Super Mario franchise. I hate it when companies force an unrelated game into an existing series for a quick buck.
  • The level design relies too heavily on memorization. There are many sections where death is expected before figuring out where to jump and land. You also need to memorize which plants to uproot, where to throw the potion, etc.
  • The ending is lame. It was all a dream, nothing you did actually matters!


  • Nothing.

Box Art




Level Design

This is my running commentary on the game design broken out by level.

Level Notes
1-1 The designers wisely introduce the player to pretty much every game element in 1-1. There are also two shortcuts: a high-jumping character can use a tweeter so skip the cave, or, by jumping the pit in the cave and using bombs, you can skip the vine segment altogether and show up on the far side of Birdo. Really great level design.
1-2 There is a lot more to take in with 2-2; several more new game elements and enemies are introduced. Stealing Pidgit's magic carpet is a great idea, and Phanto is one of my favorite enemies to hate. Again, a high-jumping character can use a Ninja to skip the cave.
1-3 Another great introduction. Players are taught that mushrooms aren't always near potions, and you'll often be expected to carry keys a long distance. Mouser is a great first boss. Not too difficult, but by no means easy. I like the brickwork in his lair.
2-1 Again, several new enemies and game play elements. I love the dead-eyes of the Cobrat. The quicksand, is a nice touch, and so is watching a Shyguy sink in it. Having to dig your way through the sand in the pyramid while Shyguys fall on you was also a clever design. Birdo has become a bit scarier with pits on either side.
2-2 The mushroom in the first room is well designed. The tall cactus near the end of the overworld is a nice trap. Weak jumpers have to use a crouch jump while also holding a bomb; a great anxiety inducer, and we see our first fiery Birdo.
2-3 More non-linear level design. The first mushroom is to the left of the starting ladder, and the room that's out of reach requires using a Beezo as a platform. Moving Phanto's key to the top of the dirt pit is hard work since it doesn't throw as expected here. Triclyde is a formidable foe.
3-1 Another secret; falling in the larger waterfall pit, which might happen accidentally, actually takes you to a cave where you can stock up on coins. There is also a nice aggravating spot where you have to steal Pidgit's magic carpet and quickly rise to a vine before it disappears. One more short cut requires a leap of faith to the left after climbing the vine to skip the Pansers. This fiery Birdo is harder still.
3-2 I enjoy a level where the ending is teased at the beginning. This level has a particularly devious section where you have to use bombs to break through walls, but it requires having to take them a fair distance in order to do so. There is a brief shortcut for characters that can leap across the last gap, but you only avoid a couple Beezos.
3-3 The is the first maze level which requires a fair amount of back-tracking before you figure out the correct order. You often climb up a section only to find a platform too high to reach. I like that the designers put a Phanto at the top, tipping you off that you will need to get the key to proceed. There are a couple new enemies introduced, as well as the Shyguy spawners. Seeing Mouser again as a boss may seem like a let down, but like Birdo, he's become more powerful.