Monday, May 21, 2012

Second Opinion: Super Mario Bros. 2

As you may recall, for my April Fools' Day special this year, I converted my review on the Super NES version of Doom into video form... in the style of the Irate Gamer. At first I had only seen a few episodes of his show, and despite his occasional lapses of research failures and hypocrisies, there were some moments of his I genuinely liked. I watched more of his show as I was working on my episode, and it was then that I chanced upon his "review" of Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the moment when I lost all respect for the Irate Gamer as a critic. There was so much he overlooked and just failed to care about that it instantly became one of those opinions I refused to recognise. And so, here's what I have to say about what the Irate Gamer had to say about...

Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Platform/Release:
    • NES, October 1988
    • Game Boy Advance, 10 June 2001 (as Super Mario Advance)
    • Wii, 2 July 2007
  • Genre: 2D Action (Platformer)
  • Players: 1
  • Rarity/Cost:
    • NES: Common, US$10-20
    • GBA: Common, US$5-10
    • Wii: N/A, US$5
"If you line up all the Super Mario games in order, one of them just sticks out like a sore thumb."
You mean Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, the one game out of those five in which you don't even play as Mario? ...Still good, though.
"Now when you start this game, you'll have the choice of picking from four different characters., all with their own special abilities. Mario is the regular fighter, Luigi is the high jumper, Princess Peach can hover in the air for extended periods of time, and Toadstool, well, he's pretty much worthless."
Toad is not useless; he's the fastest digger out of all the four characters. Which comes in handy in places such as the levels in World 2, which have deep digging passages.
"[...] You'll notice that the gameplay has been totally altered. First they did away with the ability to smash your enemies. Instead, you'll have to pick them up and toss them at other enemies in order to kill them."
Okay, look. I can understand annoyance at the loss of instant gratification, like the kind you find when you stomp on an enemy in Super Mario Bros. and it goes away right then and there. But SMB2 plays by its own set of rules, and if you're comparing it to a completely foreign system, then you're not going to have fun with it. Which, might I argue, is the point of video games on the whole, no?
"Second, this game is only a one-player game. It's totally different from the original in which you can play two players."
Funny thing about that: in its earliest stages of development, SMB2 was conceived as supporting two player co-op, but this feature was deemed not fun enough and scrapped early on. Also, the multiplayer offerings from the first SMB were of the take-turns variety.
"And remember that invincibility star? Well, yeah, they pretty much [verb]ed that whole thing up, too. Instead of now finding the star, you'll have to go around collecting five cherries that are scattered around the levels. And after you collected that fifth cherry, you've got to wait for it!"
Look at that scene again. Not only did he cut away from that footage in order to artificially stretch it out, but he also slowed down the footage itself. Yeah, I can tell. I re-created that scenario, and the time it took for the Starman to rise up from the screen and touch my player was exactly 10.85 seconds. And besides, it's not like Cherries are hard to find, in most levels.
"And while we're at it, this game could really use a lot more power-ups, too. Some spots in the game are so over-crowded with enemies, it's insane."
"At the end of the game, you'll finally meet up with the last boss, Wart, who ends up just really being a pushover. All you have to do is throw vegetables at him when his mouth is open, and he'll choke on them and die. And yet again giving kids another reason not to eat their vegetables."
Your hero, ladies and gentlemen.
"Released only in Japan, [Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels] continues where the first one left off. All the same enemies, power-up items, even the maps look the same. This right here is the perfect predecessor to the first Mario game."
When you said that part about the same items, you showed a Poison Mushroom - an item not found in the first SMB. Also, let me emphasize one of the words he said: predecessor. I'm not sure if he didn't notice that, or if he's just really stupid.
"I did some more research, and found something that's guaranteed to flip some [noun]. Years earlier, a game was released in Japan called Doki-doki Panic. [...] It's the exact same game! And we're not just talking about copying the layout of the levels - everything has been stolen! The enemies, power-ups, music, everything! If you compare both these games side by side, they're the exact same video game."
Funny thing about that: the game in question (full title Yume Kojo: Doki-doki Panic) was made by Nintendo themselves - with Shigeru Miyamoto at the helm, to boot. So would ya mind telling me how Nintendo could've ripped off SOMETHING THEY CREATED IN THE FIRST PLACE!?!? Oh wait, it gets even better: DDP was originally conceived as a sequel to Super Mario Bros. in the first place. That explains why items like Starmen, Coins, and the Pow Block (from the 1983 Mario Bros.) were in there to begin with.

If you want to know more about Doki-doki Panic (and if you want to see me totally show up the Irate Gamer), here you go: The game was released for the Famicom Disk System in 1987 as a tie-in with Fuji TV's "Yume Kojo '87" (English: "Dream Factory '87") promotion. The major difference between this game and SMB2 is that it has a save function and unlimited continues, but you can only switch characters in between worlds or when you start or resume a game. Also, each of the four characters progresses separately, so to get the best ending, you have to beat the game four times, once for each of them.
"Even the characters in this game have the exact same abilities as the characters from Mario 2! I mean, look: here's Mario, Luigi, Princess, and yeah, even the worthless Toad."
You may have matched the DDP and SMB2 characters by looks, but not by abilities. Technically, the character you labelled as Mario's counterpart, Papa, has Toad's abilities, and vice-versa for Imajin, the guy you labelled as Toad's counterpart. Oh, and if you find the fact that DDP's Mama shares the role of SMB2's Luigi to be hilarious in hindsight, then we have so much to discuss.
"It's unclear as to why they copied [DDP] in the first place. But many have speculated that the real Mario 2 game was just too much like the first one."
Partial credit, for once. See, Nintendo of America was the one who chose not to sell the original SMB2 abroad. Partly because it was more of the same, but mostly because of its intense, "fustrating" challenge, and at such an early stage, NoA did not want to risk Mario's popularity with a product they felt others would not appreciate. Now, The Lost Levels has been re-released numerous times (I've played it as part of Super Mario Bros. Deluxe on Game Boy Color), and I agree that it puts you to the test, alright. But still, better late then never -- or better late than on time, in this case.
"Now, I was never a big fan of Super Mario 2, but a few years ago, they released it again, and this time for the Game Boy Advance. Super Mario 2 was given a complete makeover, and the end result is amazing. I can honestly say that for the first time, this truly feels like a Mario game."
Even though the level designs and core mechanics have gone unchanged?
"They totally revamped all the levels..."
By which you mean they simply changed around the enemy placement and added five red coins per level.
"...included a lot more power-ups, mixed in with some interesting enemies..."
Both of which are merely larger versions of things already present in the game.
"...and now finding hearts to replenish your health is so much easier."
Allow me to say it again. *ahem*

Seriously, dude? If you think a game holding your hand is a deciding factor of quality... well, you may be right some times, but this is not one of those times! You must secretly suck at gaming -- and this isn't the only example. It has come to my attention that you could only get through the first few levels of subjects like Resident Evil 5 and Robocop 2, and you only made it as far as you did on Final Fantasy III and Ghosts & Goblins because you cheated. Hoo boy, I can't wait to challenge you to some sort of showdown somewhere along the line.

So what do I think of the game? It's certainly well-executed, no surprise coming from a Nintendo product. Sure, the pick-up and throw mechanic is different than what we're used to, but with the way the game revolves around it, it becomes second nature fast. (And if it doesn't, it's you that needs to change.) My biggest beef with the original version is its lack of a save function, but unlike a certain someone I just talked about, I'm no crybaby. I understand that back in 1988, this was an unconventional and not exactly cost-effective feature, so I know better than to judge it for that. Besides, that's what the ports are for. All things considered, Super Mario Bros. 2 scores 90%, an A-.


  1. I love the original, it gave us one of the best video game themes and some classic Nintendo characters. I tend to find the latest mario titles a little too easy. You made some good points ^, that bloke is an ass, his videos aren't funny, just lame. Good article

    1. Holy crow, my first comment! Thank you.

    2. No probs. I understand how much comments mean to us bloggers, have a look at my games/cereal bars blog :-)