Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
Japanese box art
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Publisher(s) Nintendo Designer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
Composer(s) Koji Kondo Series Mario Platform(s) Family Computer Disk System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Virtual Console Release date(s) Genre(s) Platforming Mode(s) Single-player Rating(s)
Super Mario Bros. 2 (スーパーマリオブラザーズ2 Sūpā Mario Burazāzu Tsū ), also known as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, is a platforming video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Family Computer Disk System. First released in Japan on June 3, 1986, it is the direct sequel to the second best-selling video game of all time, Super Mario Bros. Due to the game's high difficulty and similarity to its predecessor, Nintendo of America chose not to release it in North America until the Virtual Console release in 2007. A full remake, entitled Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, was included as part of the Super Mario All-Stars collection for the Super NES. More recently, the original Disk System version was made available as a download (including North America) for the Virtual Console as of 2007. Unlike the 16-bit SNES version, the Virtual Console version is the original Disk System version with all its original subtitles (although like Super Mario Bros., the original game was already entirely in English) without the loading screen.
The premise of the game is identical to Super Mario Bros.: Bowser has abducted Princess Peach and is holding her captive in one of his castles. Either Mario or Luigi must navigate through the Mushroom Kingdom, overcome Bowser's henchmen, and rescue the Princess. The game uses the same game engine as its predecessor and is quite similar in visual style. It is intended to challenge players who have mastered the original Super Mario Bros.
In contrast to its predecessor, The Lost Levels does not feature a two-player mode. At the start of the game, players are given a selection between Mario or Luigi to control. It is also the first entry of the Mario series in which Mario and Luigi exhibit differing movements: Mario retains the same movement characteristics from the original Super Mario Bros., whereas Luigi is less agile but can jump higher and farther. Minor tweaks have been made to the physics engine, allowing Mario or Luigi to bounce higher off the backs of enemies. Aside from improved sound quality, the background music and sound effects are lifted entirely from the previous game (except for sounds added for Mario/Luigi skidding and the wind blowing). The various character sprites are (for the most part) also unchanged, though more detail is given to the surrounding backgrounds and terrain.
The Lost Levels follows a similar style of level progression as its predecessor: eight Worlds, having four levels each. At the end of each world, Mario or Luigi navigates through a lava-filled castle, culminating in a battle against Bowser. The first eight Worlds are numbered 1-8, while the remaining four—earned by completing the game eight consecutive times—are lettered A-D in the original Disk System version. It is still possible to bypass parts of the game by exploiting warp zones, but unlike the previous game, two of The Lost Levels′s warp zones return the player to earlier levels. Completing Worlds 1-8 without using a warp zone allows the player to access "Fantasy World" (also known as World 9), a repeating bonus stage that is similar to the "Minus World" glitch from Super Mario Bros.
The game features no new enemies, though many of them behave differently from before. Land-borne enemies such as Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and Lakitus now appear during underwater levels, while sea creatures such as Cheep Cheeps and Bloopers can be found hovering in midair. Hammer Bros. are much more aggressive and will continuously advance towards Mario, far past their starting points. In addition, red Piranha Plants are more aggressive and will emerge from their pipes even if Mario or Luigi are standing directly beside them (in the original Super Mario Bros., Piranha Plants stay dormant if Mario is standing in close proximity), although they will remain dormant if Mario is standing directly on top of the pipe, as the ones in the original game do. Lastly, in Worlds 8-4 and D-4, Bowser will appear twice inside his castle. The first Bowser is a fake, and is a darker hue of green than his counterpart. This does not happen in any level of the previous game.
The Poison Mushroom, a recurring obstacle in the Mario series, is first introduced in The Lost Levels as a booby-trap disguised as a power-up. While similar in shape to a Super Mushroom and 1-Up Mushroom, the poison variety will harm Mario if he touches it. The resultant damage is similar to being struck by an enemy: if Super Mario or Fire Mario touches a Poison Mushroom, he will revert to regular Mario; if regular Mario touches one, the player will lose a life. In the original release, Poison Mushrooms are distinguishable by their black spots (as opposed to the red spots of a Super Mushroom or the green spots of a 1-Up Mushroom) and their color varies depending on the environment; in later editions of the game, the mushroom sports a telltale skull marking. Another new obstacle, windstorms, now appears during clifftop levels. The gusts blow intermittently from left to right, and are strong enough to push Mario or Luigi off a ledge. The direction of the wind is determined by the leaf animations that blow across the screen. Also introduced are special green springs, which bounce Mario or Luigi extremely high. These are usually used to cross large gaps.
The game was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka, the creators of the original Super Mario Bros. Visually, it looked very similar to its predecessor, but it had a higher level of difficulty. Smooth level designs were replaced by tough obstacle courses. Koji Kondo wrote the score for The Lost Levels. The game largely re-used the musical pieces from its predecessor, though there were also new compositions, such as the ending theme. Nintendo of America disliked The Lost Levels, which they found to be frustratingly difficult and otherwise little more than a modification of Super Mario Bros. Rather than risk the franchise's popularity, they canceled its stateside release and looked for an alternative. They found one in Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic (Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic), another Nintendo game developed by Miyamoto, which he had actually spent more time developing than The Lost Levels; it was released as Super Mario Bros. 2 in North America and Europe and later as Super Mario Bros. USA in Japan.
A remake of The Lost Levels was released in 1993 as part of the Super Mario All-Stars collection for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The English name of the game originates in this compilation, in which it was renamed from its original title of Super Mario Bros. 2 to avoid confusion with the game released with that name in North America. In Japan, the game subtitle "For Super Players" was added. Each game in the collection is given a 16-bit graphical and sound upgrade, as well as a save feature which enables players to restart from any level if all lives are lost, not just the beginning of the World. In addition, Luigi has the ability to jump higher than in the original Famicom version. The collection was re-released in Japan for the Wii on October 21, 2010.
In May 1999, a handheld port of The Lost Levels—under the Japanese title For Super Players—appeared as an unlockable reward in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe for the Game Boy Color. Similar to the All-Stars remake, this port includes a save feature. Among the many differences between the Super Nintendo and Game Boy Color versions is the exclusion of Worlds 9 and A-D. The overall difficulty has been reduced through various means, including the elimination of strong winds and the shortening of jumps. The physical differences between Mario and Luigi have been removed, allowing them to move in an identical manner, and the graphics are mostly the same as Super Mario Bros. rather than the original graphics of the FDS version.
In observance of the 2007 Japanese Hanabi Festival, the original The Lost Levels was made available as a download for the Wii's Virtual Console service. The title is priced at the standard 600 Wii Points. In Europe and Australia, the game was released for a limited time during the latter half of September. Nintendo of Europe announced that The Lost Levels would be retired as a download at the end of the month. Contrary to that statement, however, the game was later reinstated on August 22, 2008.
A port for the Game Boy Advance was made through the Famicom Mini series.
Reception and legacy
The Lost Levels sold 2.5 million units in Japan, easily becoming the best-selling game of all time on the Famicom Disk System.
In a review of the Virtual Console version of the game, IGN compared the game to the original Super Mario Bros., saying that "The Lost Levels feels a lot like a fan-made hack – with platforming challenges that are just a bit too frustrating and don't flow as well as Mario 1, and graphics that seem like a downgrade as well." The IGN reviewer also claimed that Nintendo of America made the right choice keeping the game in Japan.
Several aspects of The Lost Levels have gone on to become standards in the Mario series. The appearance of the mushrooms, shorter and wider with eyes, became the standard for all subsequent games. The game mechanic of Mario and Luigi having different abilities (i.e. Luigi jumps higher but skids more) was later reused in the Super Mario Advance series of Game Boy Advance remakes and in the Super Mario Galaxy series. Poison mushrooms have proven to be an enduring aspect of The Lost Levels, appearing in subsequent games such as Super Mario Kart and the Super Smash Bros. series.
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- Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japan) guide at StrategyWiki
- Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels at Virtual Console Reviews
- Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels at the Mario Wiki
- Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels at NinDB
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