Super Mario Bros 2 was a game I rented early in my NES days. It was quite different from its predecessor – and this was something my brother and I were not prepared for! When we rented the game – we couldn’t even get past the first boss no matter how much we jumped on his head! It was not until months later that we discovered that Mario needs to “pick up” the eggs shot in order to throw them back and dispatch Birdo. Nevertheless, over the years. the game has found its place in my gamers heart as a whimsical, unique NES game that still manages to be fun to this day!
The story is strange – likely because it was a game not originally planned to be Mario 2! The game starts with Mario (along with Peach, Luigi, and Toad) finding a door to a dreamworld! Their goal is to free the world of Subcon from Wart the Evil Toad, who has cursed the world world and its people.
In terms of gameplay, this game is a 2D platforming game like many in the series. The game does introduce some major changes including picking (and throwing) vegetables and enemies from the ground in order to dispatch other enemies. No longer is jumping a means to getting rid of enemies! Jumping is still a core part of the gameplay and is required to get over chasms and avoiding enemies. Despite the changes, some familiar Mario tropes are still here including mushrooms (that increases your health) and Stars (that make you invincible). New additions include cherries that allow you to play a slots mini game after each level, and magic potions that open a door to an opposite dark world that allows you to find the mushrooms. Ultimately, you must guide Mario or one of his three compatriots (Luigi, Peach, and Toad) to the end of the stage.
One of the main high-points of Super Mario Bros 2 is that there are many different characters to play as, and each of them play so distinctly. Even though Mario is the main character, I almost never play as him because the other characters have such unique abilities that make them much more fun to play as. Mario is the “jack-of-all-trades,” Luigi runs faster and can jump further, Peach can actually float when she jumps, and Toad can run and dig really fast (although his jump is less impressive).
In terms of levels, there are lots of them! There are 7 worlds with 3 levels each (apart from the last world which only has two levels). As the game was based on Toki Toki Panic, many of the levels have a middle-eastern theme but still manage to have a lot of variety. The gameplay is surprisingly a mix between vertical and horizontal levels – I really enjoyed this because it added a lot of variety to the levels.
Most levels have a mini-boss of sorts at the end (the first one being Birdo or some variant on him). Many of these bosses have become iconic in the Mario pantheon of characters and are fun (if not a bit easy) to fight. At the end of each world, there is a more proper boss fight but still remains fairly easy. I found these bosses a substantial improvement over Super Mario Bros 1 and helped the series set themselves up for imfamous Koopa Troop!
In terms of graphics, the game has fairly bland backgrounds but I found it much more appealing to look at compared to the first Super Mario Bros game. The characters looked much more unique in this game, and the differences between Mario and Luigi really started to become apparent (over and above the difference in colours of their suits). The game runs smoothly and overall looks like a mid-tier NES game. The music is excellent and has some really iconic tunes that I still remember to this day!
In summary, Super Marios Bros 2 is an excellent game that improves substantially over its predacessor with improved graphics, new gameplay additions, and great music. If you enjoy 2D platforming games – give this game a try! Overall, I give this game a 8/10.
Final Score: 8/10