Published on July 24th, 2013 | by octaneblue1
Review: Super Mario Bros. 2 – Wii U Virtual Console
System(s): NES, Virtual Console (Wii), Wii U Virtual Console, 3DS Virtual Console
Release Date: October 20, 1988 (NES), July 2, 2007 (Virtual Console), May 16, 2013 (Wii U Virtual Console), July 11, 2013 (3DS Virtual Console)
Super Mario Bros. 2 is often (unfairly) seen as the black sheep of the Super Mario Bros. series. It’s mostly common knowledge that the game is an altered version of a Japan-only release titled Doki Doki Panic redeveloped for international markets. Super Mario Bros. 2 may get some flack, but it’s actually a very entertaining Super Mario Bros. title in its own right that’s certainly worth checking out. Read on for the full review of the Wii U Virtual Console version of the game!
Super Mario Bros. 2 is quite different from its predecessor in several ways. One of the noticeable differences is the improved graphics. Mario & company look much better than they did in the first game. Mario & Luigi are no longer sprite swaps, and now look more distinct from each other. There are improved animations and the stages are much more detailed. In the game’s audio department, there are some really great, memorable tunes. The main overworld theme is rather iconic, and has re-appeared in later titles such as Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Gameplay-wise, there are drastic changes. In Super Mario Bros., you started out from the beginning point and made your way to the right, eventually reaching the end goal of the level. SMB2 features the horizontal gameplay, but adds in a new vertical scrolling feature, in which your character can climb up (or in some cases, down) parts of levels to advance. Also new is the ability to go back in a level; in the first SMB game, once Mario or Luigi moved forward in a level, they couldn’t go back. So in this game, there’s much more of an emphasis on exploration. And on top of that, there are several doors, jars, and so forth to go through and check out. Since there’s no timer in the game either, it’s a nice change of pace than the rather fast-paced nature of the first game.
The game also features a roster of four selectable characters: Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Peach. Each character has their own unique traits and play styles, and this is arguably the standout feature of the game. Mario has average stats and is a good all-around choice. Luigi jumps highest but has somewhat slow movement. Toad is fast and picks up items quickly, but he has the lowest jump. And Princess Peach is the slowest character, but she has a special floating ability that is invaluable for crossing gaps. Once you start a level, you can choose who you want to be. If you die in a level, you’ll have to continue using that character until you beat it. In newer remakes of Super Mario Bros. 2, the ability to change characters after losing a life was an added feature. This was nice because some characters perform better in some levels than others. If you’re playing the game for the first time, getting stuck with a certain character in some situations may get a bit frustrating. For instance, in some levels, Toad’s low jumping ability may be a hindrance, or Peach’s slow digging ability may cause pursuing enemies to quickly catch up.
Another big difference between this game and its predecessor is the way you defeat enemies. In the original game, most enemies could be stepped on, or defeated by the use of items. In this game, enemies can be picked up and thrown at other enemies. You can also pick up items, primarily vegetables, from the ground and defeat enemies with those, too. Super Mario Bros. 2 has a life system, indicated by hearts on the left side of the screen. When your character is down to one heart, they will shrink down (similar to the first game). You can restore health by defeating enemies and spawning small hearts, or health can be replenished and expanded by one by finding Mushrooms in the special Subspace areas, which you can enter with the use of magic potions that are hidden in the ground.
Super Mario Bros. 2 includes seven different worlds, with 3 levels in each one except the last one, which has 2. The game’s 20 levels are actually quite lengthy. While warps are available to skip through certain worlds, just like in Super Mario Bros., playing through the game in its entirety will take a bit. The worlds in the game span across several different locales, including grasslands, deserts, and icy areas. Plenty of enemies are encountered along the way, and the final level of each world includes a boss fight. The difficulty curve of the game is fair. When you begin the game, it starts out easy. But it definitely gets more challenging as the worlds go on, with more of an enemy presence and tougher platforming sections. Once all lives are lost, it’s game over, and you’re sent right back to the title screen.
Like other Wii U Virtual Console releases, Super Mario Bros. 2 supports Off-TV Play, save states, and has its own dedicated Miiverse Community, where you can interact with other players through messages, screenshots, and drawings. The save states in particular will be useful for this game, as it eases on the difficulty a bit for new players.
Super Mario Bros. 2 is quite different from other Mario games — and that’s part of its charm. It’s an entertaining platformer that still holds up to this day. If you haven’t played it before, definitely check it out! For just $5, it’s very much a worthy download.
+ Fun platforming gameplay
+ Catchy tunes
+ Four selectable characters
– Can only switch characters between levels
– Might be too challenging for new players
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5