There are some games that I just cannot give a numeric value to. Most of the time, this only applies to some of the most blatant classics in the history of video games that are too important to score. The first Legend of Zelda game, the NES Mario Bros. trilogy, and games like Pac-man and Tetris all fall into this category. Because of this, I will not be doing a standard review for Throwback Thursday this week.
A little while back we reported that Nintendo would slowly be releasing imported games on the Wii’s Virtual Console. This seemed like really great news at the time, especially since many of the other Virtual Console games have been so lackluster. This past weekend, with 900 Wii points burning a hole in my Wii pocket, I decided to give Super Mario Bros 2: The Lost Levels a shot.
Originally released in Japan as the sequel to Super Mario Bros., the game that Americans would have known as Super Mario Bros. 2 never saw the light of day on the NES on our shores. It was later released as part of the Super Mario All-Stars collection for the SNES. Not having ever been an owner of a Super Nintendo, I was unfamiliar with the game until the day it showed up on the Virtual Console.
The game description on the VC is as follows: “Originally released in Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2, this game has previously made only brief cameo appearances in the Western hemisphere. Now available on the Virtual Console in all of its original splendor, Mario fans will appreciate the familiar look and feel of the game, while finding that its updated game play creates an entirely new challenge. No longer content just to wear different-colored overalls, Mario and Luigi also possess different skill sets (Mario can stop quicker, while Luigi can jump higher). In addition to the classic enemies already known to fans worldwide, there are also Poison Mushrooms, backward Warp Zones, and the occasional wind gust (which can help or hinder your progress) to take into account. And if that’s somehow not enough, expert players can go looking for the game’s secret worlds. So get ready to put your Mario skills to the ultimate test, and save the Princess again. Just don’t be surprised if she’s in another castle!”
Completely ignoring the part about poison mushrooms, I was initially interested in playing with Luigi, thinking that his special skill, high-jumping, was much better than Mario’s. I actually thought that Mario got ripped off in the abilities department. He can stop faster? Sounds like a gyp to me. I soon found out that to compensate for this, playing with Luigi leads to a lot of erratic skidding and sliding. Sure, he can jump higher, but he can’t stop running to save his own life. After he met his end a few times in the first level by careening into goombas or sailing off a cliff, I decided it was time to switch back to Mario.
The game looks almost exactly like the first Super Mario Bros., with rearranged levels. The enemies remain basically the same as well, although the dreaded underwater squids showing up and floating around above ground did not please me. Since SMB was quite possibly the first video game I ever played and definitely one I grew up on, I know almost every level and world inside and out, as does just about everyone who’s been playing games as long as I have. Playing The Lost Levels feels like you’re playing the first Mario Bros. without knowing every single nook and cranny of the game. This is pretty scary, since we all know how unforgiving the first game is. Guess what, guys? The Lost Levels is even harder!
However, for its increased difficulty, the game rewards the player with up to five extra worlds for beating the game. Of course, to access all of these worlds, you’ll have to defeat every castle; shortcuts through warp pipes are not permitted. There are also many more hazards to be wary of. Remember when I said I ignored the warning about poison mushrooms? Well, about the third block I hit spit one of these out at me, and I was immediately killed. Were these really necessary? Probably not, but it is kind of funny to watch unsuspecting gamers gleefully rush to their doom trying to get them.
At 600 points, this game is a little pricier than most of the 8-bit games on the Virtual Console, but it’s worth it. While the original SMB wasn’t my favorite classic Mario game (it’s all about Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3 for me), I’ll still never hesitate to pop it in once in a while. Because the level design on Mario games is so good, they have awesome replay value. If you haven’t downloaded this one yet, go ahead and do so. It’s only six bucks and really, what else are you going to get?