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Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES) artwork

Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES) review

"Fiddlesticks: providing coverage for criminally overlooked games since 2012"

OK, so youíve probably clicked on this review link expecting some sort of background summary on how Super Mario Bros. 2 came to fruition as Japanese-only enterprise converted to US markets with a Mario facelift thrown in for good measure.

(Yeah, there's some of that!)

Or, perhaps, youíre really expecting this review to offer some sort of self-justifying write-up for why this writer felt so compelled to pen a piece on a perfectly more-than-adequately covered game.

(You're on a roll! I just feel like typing words!)

Now on to Fiddlesticks' fair and unbiased review!

Back when your pappy was a little school lad and before Nintendo had taken the Mario franchise to the lofty heights it has now reached, there was a simple little sequel released in Japan to the famous first Super Mario Bros. game. This sequel was imaginatively called Super Mario Bros. 2, and it was released on the mighty Famicom Disk System. Aside from some slight yet important changes, it was essentially indiscernible from its predecessor, and it lingered on the Asiatic side of the Pacific Ocean until finally rearing its head on the glorious Super Mario Bros. All-Stars compilation cartridge for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System some number of years later.

While Japan got to enjoy Marioís true second outing, us Americans with our star spangled slacks and Jeep wrangliní jackets got to play something really quite different. Mario and co. were put into a wholly different game set in a wholly different dream world quite unlike anything else the series had seen up to that point or since.

In this world of Subcon, Mario or Luigi or Princess Toadstool or Toad set forth on a platforming adventure to topple the wearisome King Wart. Because heís a frog. And heís fat. And heís evil. His legion of Shy Guys and Birdos make for an unfamiliar cast of foes compared to the Koopas and Goombas seen prior, and to this day Iím of the opinion that they would have been nothing more than a footnote had they not gotten to start alongside Mario and co.

Iíd be remiss to state that this adventure is far too unusual to be noted as a favorite of mine for the series, even when just comparing it to its NES brethren. I prefer the iconic imagery of the first installment and the epic nature of the third to the dream-world-like portrayal of this sequel. But at the same time, Iíd be foolish to style this rambling as disappointment when, after all, Iíve been playing this frickiní game on and off for years.

Maybe itís because Super Mario Bros. 2 is better in parts than it is as a whole. Itís always easy to pull this dusty cartridge out of a box, boot it up, and go relive its best moments with relative little investment in time. Let's be frank; some of Super Mario Bros. 2ís parts are pretty fricking glorious.

Weíve got Shy Guys on ostriches, whales that spout off water that can elevate our heroes to newfound heights, dangerous wells filled deep with sand, bomb-tossing rats for bosses, and rocket ships pulled from leafy stems growing casually from the ground, just to describe a few sights along the way. As Mario, youíve chosen a stout yet dogged fighter for traversing this strange realm. But chances are youíre tired of him and want to play as his beleaguered brother, so you choose Luigi and come to realize that his jump is so slippery and imprecise that you feel out of control when heís in your control. You could go with Toad, but his special power is only pulling up rutabagas from the ground a bit faster than his companions. Princess Toadstool, on the other hand, offers up a nice hovering technique that makes her jumping attributes second to none. She is the best controlling character over all. This game really should be all about her and not about her dumb rescuer and his jiggly jumping brother in tow.

With the Princess in gear and a bevy of vegetables to toss at Wart's minions, Super Mario Bros. 2 takes on a very carefree attitude despite the fact you're murdering masked minions with vegetables . . . big hulking vegetables . . . shriveled, dried-up vegetables. Vegetables with concerned faces. Oh sure, you can fling bombs or baddie into another for some baddie on baddie action, but this is a game that champions death by plants. Its lack of sense makes perfect sense. This is all a dream in Marioís head after all.

Even though I get excited about all the things I just mentioned above, Iíve never been able to fully accept Super Mario Bros. 2ís music, and I actually prefer to skip as many levels as possible when playing through the game Ė I just donít usually feel like putting in the time! Also Ė and letís face the facts here Ė Mario is a chump and Princess Toadstool is the best character to use in the game despite her name appearing nowhere in the title. I guess Nintendo realized this some years later and thatís why Super Princess Peach (a game I have not played) got its release to the standing ovation of women everywhere. Or something.

In fact, Iíd be willing to bet that most folks probably prefer to play as the princess in Super Mario Bros. 2 than they do in Super Princess Peach. Thereís something to laud about this classic for being weird and different . . . but at the end of the day, I prefer exploring the Mushroom Kingdom versus the dreamscape of Subcon.


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Community review by Fiddlesticks (January 04, 2018)

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