Console: NES Company: Nintendo of America Release Date: July 1988 Genre: Action/Adventure Number of Players: One Save Feature? No
Wow. So many memories come flooding back when I think of playing Super Mario Bros. 2 as a child. It has been said many times before but this game was truly as magical as they come. Everything about this game was just so wonderful and dreamy. It was also one of the few games that brought a tear or two to this gamer's eyes during the ending. Simply put, Super Mario Bros. 2 certainly has a special place in my heart. It may not be the best NES game out there (not even the best Mario game!) but it certainly was one of the most magical games ever made...period.
Overview: Man oh man. When I think of a game like Super Mario Bros. 2, so many other images of the past come to mind. Getting together with friends from Tennessee, going to Toys 'R Us (THE place to go for video games back in the day), and of course, the introduction of a magazine by the name of Nintendo Power are a few things that pop into my head. Warm summer days, the feeling of opening and playing this game for the very first time...ohhh...you just couldn't top those memories!
I will never forget the day that I bought Super Mario Bros. 2. My good friend Travis Bruce and I were working outside on a warm summer day at my house in Fairfield, Ohio. It was just one of those days when the sun was shining so brightly and the sky was so blue that you could almost soak it in. I remember it so vividly. For a while, I had wanted a chance to play Super Mario Bros. 2 and, for some odd reason, when I asked Mom and Dad if they could take me to Toys 'R Us to buy the game, they agreed! Now, you have to remember that I only bought one or two new NES games a year back in those days (it's not easy for an eight-year old to save $45!) so it was a pretty special day when I got a new game. Anyway, Mom took me to Toys 'R Us (See? It was the best place to buy new games back then!), I saw the game for $45, and I bought it.
Now what happened next will probably blow you away. Being so ecstatic and excited and ready to explode, I did something that no one would ever expect. I actually let my good friend Travis play the game...gasp!...before me!! Can you believe that? All the waiting...all the excitement...and I actually let him play first! Ha ha...in retrospect, I think that it's really cool that I did that. I think that Travis enjoyed playing the game too. ;)
Needless to say, Super Mario Bros. 2 was a huge hit with its unique feel and engrossing gameplay. Not only that but it was one of the first true sequels in NES Nation. As we all know, the original Super Mario Bros. was a megahit that may have very well saved the video game industry as we know it. However, what was so amazing was that Nintendo of America was able to capture lightning in a bottle a second time! SMB2 was definitely a worthy sequel.
Graphics: Wonderful and magical...need I say more? For Mario fanatics like yours truly, Nintendo could do no wrong in the graphics department. What was so ironic was that the graphics in Super Mario Bros. 2 (and the other NES Mario games for that matter) were so simplistic! There isn't a whole lot of detail and the background graphics consist of only one color most of the time yet it works so well! The atmosphere in SMB2 was simply incredible! While the game had that playful feel typical of the Mario series, it wasn't too friendly or "cutesy."
Some of the character animation was superb for an NES game as well. I thought that Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Toadstool were all really brought to life in this one. Some of the enemies like Shyguy, Triclyde, and Fryguy were very memorable as well. Everything was colorful and flowed nicely yet it wasn't overdone.
Music: Like its predecessor, Super Mario Bros. 2 contained catchy, memorable tunes that you will never forget. The main diddy that plays in the overworld might have actually been the best in the series. It was that catchy! The underworld tunes were pretty good too but nothing can top the one in the first Super Mario Bros. game! The boss music was doable and the classic music that plays during the subscreen is great! And the ending theme...oh boy...the ending theme. It might not seem like oscar material now but, back in 1989, it was so special! I was so touched when I beat SMB2 for the first time and the music was certainly a major reason for that catharsis. It was just so cool (at least for an eight-year old). I don't know how else to say it.
Play Control: Fluid play control that is incredibly easy to learn has always been the staple of the Mario series and SMB2 is no exception. It was like the first Mario game with improvements! You could now pick up items like vegetables, bombs, and POW blocks and physically throw them at your opponents! Better yet, you could actually pick up the enemies themselves and toss them at each other! This was a lot of fun and made for plenty of laughs (just seeing an enemy go down after getting nailed with a pumpkin was funny for some reason). I also liked how you could now squat to build up strength and jump super high. Later games tried to copy this feature yet none had the execution of SMB2.
Strategy played a unique role in SMB2 as well. Since you could select from four characters (all with unique strengths and weaknesses), some would perform better in certain areas than others. This variety was very impressive for an early NES game and it really gave SMB2 its replay value. For example, Toad was a great pick for World 2 because of his ability to dig and pick up items with lightning quickness. He was 4th in jumping ability but World 2 really stressed quickness and agility over high jumps. By the other token, Princess Toadstool or Luigi were great picks for Worlds 5-1 and 6-2 because of their incredible jumping ability (gotta love how Princess floats). Of course, Mario was the most well-balanced character with no real strengths or weaknesses. I usually preferred picking him or Toad although it all depended on the level.
Challenge: From the third world on, Super Mario Bros. 2 is actually a pretty tough game! I was amazed at how large some of the levels were (World 5-3 comes to mind for some reason) and some of the bosses like Fryguy gave me fits! World 5-1 was a monster too! I can't tell you how much I dreaded that level. You had to jump on top of leaping enemies across a waterfall with hardly any ledges to take a breather on! It may not sound like much but it was really hard! For an extra challenge, try beating that level with Toad! Wart (the final boss) was a headache for many people as well. I remember wondering what in the heck I was supposed to do against the game's final villain. I think that it was by sheer accident when I discovered that the trick was to feed him vegetables (try that for originality). Anyway, my main point is that, while Super Mario Bros. 2 was a very enjoyable game, it could sure challenge you as well.
Storyline: For some reason, I always thought that Super Mario Bros. 2 had the most intriguing story of the series. Hey, anything that involves dreams and magical worlds is exciting right? Not only was the game enchanting but I believe that it was the first game to truly surprise me at the end. I was so surprised when I saw Mario in bed dreaming of defeating Wart and being honored by the creatures of Sub-Con. It was really cool (remember that I was 8 at the time).
Funfactor: Like any Mario game, this is the category where the game really shines. Although Super Mario Bros. 2 is strong in virtually every category, the game's appeal comes from its simplicity. The game doesn't try to blow you away; it simply draws you in little by little until you're so engrossed with the amazing gameplay and wonderful atmosphere that you don't want to ever stop!
Although I still feel that Super Mario Bros. 3 was the best Mario game ever, the second Mario hit is certainly no chopped liver. It was original and intuitive enough to hold its own and is without a doubt much better than the already great original Mario game. Overall, this baby is a winner!
Negatives: Even by 1988 standards, the background graphics were a bit weak. After all, Blaster Master came out shortly after SMB2! Thankfully, this was corrected beautifully in Super Mario All-Stars for the Super NES.
Also, while the music in SMB2 is very nice indeed, more variety would certainly have been welcome. I mean, heck, Mega Man 2 had different music in just about every level! It should be noted that for some reason, even later Mario hits had this issue. I guess that they didn't want to mess with perfection eh?
Ratings: Graphics: 4.5 Music: 4.3 Play Control: 4.5 Challenge: 4.5 Storyline: 4.5 Funfactor: 4.7 Overall Score: 27.0 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!
Back to NES NostalgiaLast Updated: June 1, 2006