It’s odd that a game which started out as a non-Mario title should go on to define a large number of things of the Italian plumber’s universe.
The western version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was actually a re-skinned version of Japanese-only release Doki Doki Panic, rather than the Super Mario Bros. sequel that Nintendo had already delivered to Japan. And such a decision was right. Remember in 1988, Nintendo released Super Mario Bros. 3 across their native homeland which looked light years ahead of its Japanese predecessor, not to mention the countless other third-party titles on NES that looked incredible by that point.
Anyway, enough about visuals. The gameplay in Super Mario Bros. 2, that is the version as we remember it, is rather different to that found in the first Super Mario Bros. This time Nintendo gave players the choice of character to play as, with Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach making up the now familiar cast of characters. Each had their own unique skills, with levels giving individual characters their chance to shine. For example, Toad is quick at digging through the sand, whereas Peach has the ability to reach high ledges or float for longer distances than a basic jump would allow.
At the time of release, having a second game in the series change direction wasn’t unusual; Nintendo changed The Legend of Zelda’s formula for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link after all. But the legacy of Mario owes so much to Super Mario Bros. 2, as in the original you couldn’t see any difference between Mario and Luigi as it was only a palette swap. In Super Mario Bros. 2, Luigi became the taller/ganglier brother and then we have Toad and Princess Peach becoming the characters we know today.
Super Mario Bros. 2 is a very easy game, you can blow through it in less than hour, but the game is still fun to play and at times pure genius. It may not be as well remembered as either the original or Super Mario Bros. 3, but it deserves to be remembered as a classic alongside those two.
If you haven’t played this one before, or haven’t returned to it in many years, I strongly recommend the download as it plays so differently to the barrage of Mario games that have come our way over the last few years.