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Super Mario Bros. 2

Stats:
System: NES, Arcade
Release Year: 1988
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Players: 1
ESRB: N/A

Plot

This comes directly from the SMB2 instruction booklet:

One evening, Mario had a strange dream. He dreamt of a long, long stairway leading up to a door. As soon as the door opened, he was confronted with a world he had never seen before spreading out as far as his eyes could see. When he strained his ears to listen, he heard a faint voice saying "Welcome to 'Subcon', the land of dreams. We have been cursed by Wart and we are completely under his evil spell. We have been awaiting your arrival. Please defeat Wart and return Subcon to its natural state. The curse Wart has put on you in the real world will not have any effect upon you here. Remember, Wart hates vegetables. Please help us!" At the same time this was heard, a bolt of lightning flashed before Mario's eyes. Stunned, Mario lost his footing and tumbled upside down. He awoke with a start to find himself sitting up in his bed. To clear his head, Mario talked to Luigi, Toad and Princess about the strange dream he had. They decide to go to a nearby mountain for a picnic. After arriving at the picnic area and looking at the scenery, they see a small cave nearby. When thy enter this cave, to their great surprise, there's a stairway leading up, up and up. It is exactly like the one Mario saw in his dream. They all walk together up the stairs and at the top, find a door just like the one is Mario's dream. When Mario and his friends, in fear, open the door, to their surprise, the world that he saw in his dream spreads out before them!....

This game left many fans puzzled over Nintendo. It was known to many fans that Japan had recieved SMB2 three years ago, and that it was in all respects just a more difficult SMB. So where on earth did America and Europe's SMB2 come from? It was radically different from the previous game. Well, several years later, the entire truth was uncovered. It seemed that Japans SMB2 was considered too difficult for western gamers. So instead, Nintendo reprogrammed a game called Doki Doki Panic, and released it here with Mario and co. as the heroes under SMB2. That explained all the unusual and previously unknown enemies and worlds. Finally, in 1993, the west got Japans SMB2 as part of Mario All-Stars.

Overview

Design-wise, this game was noteably superior to Japans SMB2. Instead of just a more difficult version of the previous game, the western game had considerably better graphics and sound, seeing as how it was released two years later. The graphics are much more detailed, and the characters look much better than in SMB or Japan's SMB2. The music is more fluid and smoother. The sound effects are certainly different from those of SMB, but they work. In terms of gameplay, this game is unusual to say the least. Never has there been a game that quite has the same feel of SMB2. Don't get me wrong. It is a platformer in Mario tradition, despite being reworked from a completely different game. You go through the game as one of four selectable characters (Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess), defeating your enemies as you go along. But instead of the standard jump-on-their-heads of power-up-and-shoot-fireballs routine that has been firmly established in Mario's platformers, you attack, in all truth, by using a dazzly array of plants, or even using your enemies against themselves. Pick up a plant, toss it at the enemy. Pick up an enemy, toss it at another enemy. And of course there were all kinds of special weapons like bombs and POW blocks to add to your arsenal. This made for an unusual, yet effective game.

Of all the Mario platformers, this is definetly the most unusual. That is both good and abad at the same time. However, I think this game worked out just as well as the Japanese version would have. And now, with Mario All-Stars, we can get the best of both worlds.