Sunday, May 26, 2013

Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES, Wii U VC) Retro Review

SuperPhillip Central is working overtime to provide you with another new review, but this time it's a new review of an old game that recently entered back into the spotlight on the Wii U's Virtual Console service. It's Super Mario Bros. 2, and you can read all about our opinion of the game below.

Proof That Vegetables Can Be Bad For You

If you are a gamer, especially a classic gamer, you probably know the tale of the American version of Super Mario Bros. 2. If not, then no worries-- let me drop some knowledge on your pretty little head. The original Super Mario Bros. 2 released in Japan, and it looked just like its predecessor, albeit with new levels and a high difficulty. That difficult was deemed so high by Nintendo of America, that they didn't feel American NES owners could stand the challenge. Thus, Nintendo reworked a Japanese game known as Doki Doki Panic and instead of the new characters introduced in that game, they were replaced by Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Toad. Therefore America's version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is quite different from the Japanese version. The Japanese version would later be released in America as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. Phew! That took some writing to get that story across!

Regardless, Super Mario Bros. 2 recently released on Nintendo's digital drip-feeding service called the Wii U Virtual Console. For a game that originally released in 1988 (and then later in Japan as Super Mario USA), Super Mario Bros. 2 is still a delightful platforming adventure.

Immediately when you play Super Mario Bros. 2 after coming off any other 2D Mario platformer game in existence, you will notice an obvious change in the mechanics. Instead of jumping on Goombas and crushing them with your mighty mass, you leap on enemies, pick them up, and chuck them at other foes. The picking up of objects doesn't end with enemies either. No, you can pick up sprouts that house vegetables, bombs, and even a magic potion that opens a door into subspace, where you can earn coins and even a health-boosting magic mushroom.

Remember kids, to give Shy Guys their 
daily recommended serving of vegetables!
Right off the bat for each level you receive a choice. You can select one of four characters, each of which controls different than the others. For instance, Mario is the balanced character, while Luigi is a little harder to control, but his higher jumps (and very jiggly legs) make him a suitable selection. Meanwhile, Toad is a smaller target, and Princess Toadstool can hover in the air temporarily after a jump. While you can play through the game as one character and one character only, there's a lot of fun in mixing and matching to suit the particular level. Playing as Luigi for the entire game is much more challenging than say, playing through the game with Princess Toadstool. While the controls for all characters are competent enough, I would have liked to see them not be as loose as they are. This makes some precision jumps incredibly frustrating to pull off.

Leapin' lizards, can Luigi jump!
There are seven worlds in Super Mario Bros. 2, and all but the last contain three levels each. Super Mario Bros. 2 is a relatively short game, allowing players to reach its final boss in approximately three hours. Regardless, the platforming challenge is quite high, especially when you consider all the precision necessary to overcome each level's hardships. One you'll be jumping across logs which are tumbling over a waterfall, another you'll be climbing from beanstalk to beanstalk, avoiding enemies that shoot bullets and enemies that blast flames at you. Perhaps the one criticism of how the levels are set up is that the difficult curve is not a steady one. One early level might trip you up severely while the next is pretty much a breeze.

Moby Dick these whales are not.
A common element in levels is picking up keys to unlock faraway doors. It's not as simple as it sounds when you factor in that as long as you carry a key, a hovering mask named Phanto will ruthlessly chase after you. It's a game of cat and mouse, where you need to pick up the key, toss it when Phanto appears, and make baby steps (i.e. little-by-little making progress).

While levels conclude with a battle with Birdo (picking up the eggs it shoots from its snout and chucking them back into the creature), worlds conclude with a more inspired boss battle. Mouser requires you to quickly pick up the bombs he tosses, throw them onto his platform, and hope he gets caught in the explosion. Meanwhile, Fryguy will be extinguished by tossing little mushroom platforms at him. This is all the while avoiding is stream of flames that he showers on the battlefield. The boss battles aren't just fun, they're routinely challenging and much more complex than one might expect.

Show Mouser who really is "da bomb."
Super Mario Bros. 2 is a definite upgrade over its predecessor's graphics. Sprites are much more detailed, and the worlds have much more architecture and environmental ambiance to them. The classic tunes of Super Mario Bros. 2 still sound fantastic and as catchy as ever, something I definitely noticed when I was happily humming them throughout my play-through.

There's much more detail in the environments
of Super Mario Bros. 2.
Super Mario Bros. 2 might not be the best 2D platformer around, nor is it one that platforming fans dream about. However, it has all the correct elements to make it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Though it is a short game, challenging yourself to beat the game as each of the four characters adds some replay value to the game. While Super Mario Bros. 2 is just Doki Doki Panic in Mario clothing, the game is a worthwhile entry in the Mario series, and one that has provided the universe and canon with a lot of memorable characters and elements. It's a game that might get so engraved in your mind that you might start chucking cabbage and radishes at your real life enemies. SuperPhillip Central by no means condones this behavior.

[SPC Says: 8.0/10]

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