Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is a curious thing. On the one hand it is one of the toughest games of its time and feels more like a fan mod than an actual sequel to Super Mario Bros., and on the other the game is a lot of fun.
First let’s dispel the myth that this game wasn’t released over here due to it being too hard – remember that games like Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man were huge hits and equally very tough. This game wasn’t released here because by the time we were ready for a Super Mario Bros. 2, the game looked outdated.
The decision to make an entirely new Super Mario Bros 2 for us western gamers (based on the Japanese game Doki Doki Panic) was the right choice. Not only did our version of Super Mario Bros. 2 look better, but it also gave Mario and co distinct personalities and helped define the Super Mario universe.
The Lost Levels as mentioned is a devilishly difficult game, and at times seems to hate you. Coming into this game from the original you will be used to grabbing everything that comes out of a block, but Nintendo here added a Poison Mushroom that would kill you.
This creates some tense moments as you try to avoid enemies and pit falls as well as these deadly mushrooms, and such evil design doesn’t stop there. One of the key hall marks of the original game was getting to warp pipes to help advance your progress, yet Nintendo have added warp pipes within The Lost Levels that take you back to the beginning of the game.
I can forgive these new evil elements as they add a great deal of tension to the game, as well as creating a new way to play. But there is something else that doesn’t sit well with me, the game looks and sounds just like the original, but unlike the original there doesn’t seem to be a natural rhythm to the game.
When you play Super Mario Bros., the music almost feels like it is in time with your movements, with the level design feeling as if it was made along with the music. The Lost Levels pales in comparison, with the level design more broken up and getting that natural rhythm going just doesn’t happen.