Review: Super Mario Bros – The Lost Levels

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Continuing on with my Super Mario series playthrough, I’m brought to the next installment in the series, Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels.  This title was released in Japan as Super Mario Bros 2 – For Super Players. It was the original sequel to SMB and was designed with a much higher degree of difficulty.

This game is hardcore beyond all human reasoning. The premise is the same as the original Super Mario Bros, but with the added option of playing either Mario or Luigi  in single-player mode. (Luigi has different jump physics, thus making the experience drastically different). The levels in this game are extremely difficult. Sometimes laughably-so. There are pits the span 1/4th of the entire stage that can only be crossed by bouncing off the backs of flying turtles. If you manage that, you’re likely to find an arm of fireballs waiting for you on the other side. One of more popular upgrades to the game is the introduction the poisonous mushroom, a trap disguised as a power up. Touching it will either weaken Super Mario or kill regular Mario. There are also trampolines that will launch Mario completely off of the screen leaving the player to guess where he might land. It is sheer terror, but in a good way.

I did it once back in 2003 and I said I would never do it again. But, yesterday, I played through this title all the way to the end, and I managed to do so without warping. World 1-9 and A-D. If you’ve ever played this title, you’ll probably agree that that is quite a feat.

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The game was rejected for release in the US by Nintendo of America due to high degree of difficulty. It didn’t see a  western-release until the Super Mario All-Stars collection, many years later. That being said, the All-Stars version is actually EASIER than the original 8-bit release. In the original release, you must play through the game a total of EIGHT TIMES to unlock the secret “A-D” levels. In the re-release, playing through it once without warping is enough. The JP audience also had the slap-in-the-face of starting back on the first level of whichever world they were on if they had to use a “continue”. The updated version allows players continue on the same level in which they die. If you are a Mario fan, and you have the patience, I do recommend playing through this title at least once in your life. There’s a lot of cute Easter egg-type of content in the game if you have the willingness to play all the way through.

Other than the ramped up difficulty, and the new challenges listed above, it’s very similar to the original classic. After clearing this game, I felt like I could handle just about anything Nintendo could throw at me. Finishing this game was a proud accomplishment.

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Difficulty: ExtremeThis game makes the original SMB look like a cake walk. I’m not exaggerating this one bit. As far as twitch/platformers go, this is probably the most difficult I have ever played.

Story: The exact same plot as the original. But If you look at this as a harder version of the first title, it’s easy to forgive.

Originality: While this title really doesn’t bring anything original to the series, its intention was to be nothing more than a challenge for people who fancied themselves to be SMB experts. While many aspects of the game are the same, there are several new twists and tricks that will throw many veteran players off.

Soundtrack: Identical soundtrack to the first release, but classic tunes nonetheless.

Fun: This game is so difficult that after a certain point, playing it is almost a chore. Many points in the game make you ask yourself “Why am I doing this? This is not fun.” However, finally finishing the game, does seem to make it all worth it. Again, it is what it is, an extreme challenge.

Graphics: Both 8bit and 16bit versions were pretty much state of the art at the time of release. The original NES version actually offers a slight improvement over the original.

Playcontrol : The Wii version of the games suffers the same issues as many NES platformers do on the virtual console; sometimes the controls feel a bit laggy, or imprecise.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 Stars – This is a classic title, and I do recommend it to any Mario fan. However, due to the extreme level of difficulty and the lack of any real innovation, I cannot rate it as high as the original SMB. This is not a title for a the casual player. Young children will more than likely be turned off by it. But if you’re wanting to prove to the world that you are a Mario Master, than look no further.

Available today on: Wii, Virtual Console

Other Reviews In This Series:

SMB   –   SMB Lost Levels  –  SMB 2  –  SMB 3  –  SM World – SM World 2-  SM Land  –  SM Land 2  – SM Land 3 –  Mario 64 – Mario Sunshine – New SMB – Galaxy – Galaxy 2 – New SMB Wii – Mario 3D Land – New SMB 2 – New SMB U – SMB 3D World

Paper Mario – Thousand Year Door – Super Paper Mario – Sticker Star

Wario Land 2 – Wario Land 3 – Wario Land 4 – Master of Disguise – Wario Land Shake It

Luigi’s Mansion – Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon – Super Princess Peach

Review: Super Mario Bros.

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Working on this blog and waxing nostalgic about old games really got me hankering to play some. So tonight I decided to have a little quality time with my son by breaking out some old school Mario. A couple years ago, I picked up the Mario 25th Anniversary disc on Wii. This is essentially nothing more than Super Mario All-Stars on a disc, but having the updated version or the first four Mario games all in one collection is a really a great value. If you can still find a copy, I definitely recommend it.

Re-living this old classic was a lot of fun. My son and I played old-fashioned 2-player mode for an hour or more. I’m proud to admit, I still remember all the old tips and tricks, hidden blocks, etc. I’ve still got it!

Playing this game again gave me a brilliant idea; a playthrough/review of the entire Mario series. Why not? It could be fun… So after everyone went to bed, I settled back down in my armchair with the lights down low, slid the disc in the Wii and started my journey.

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Before I begin, I’d like to note that while I do have the actual 8-bit virtual-console version, I decided to go ahead and go with the All-Stars update. I did so simply for the better graphics and upgraded audio. Since the gameplay is exactly the same, I don’t feel like I’m really compromising the experience.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last twenty-five years, Super Mario Bros. is the story of Mario and Luigi, two Italian plumbers who find themselves in the weird fantasy world of “The Mushroom Kingdom”. Their goal is rescue a kidnapped princess from the evil turtle-bully, Bowser. The game is a side-scrolling platformer consisting of eight, four-level worlds. The fourth level of each world features a castle that might potentially house the missing princess. Of course, you don’t actually find her until you’ve reached the very last castle.

I decided to play through the entire game without warping and I’m glad I did. Over the years I had forgotten just how quirky and wonderful many of the levels were. Giant colorful toadstools, flying fish, sneaky swimming squids…  I even enjoyed how grumpy some of the later levels could be. Remember the little “mazes” in some of the later castles? I’m referring to the levels where you must travel in a certain pattern (bottom of the screen, or top of the screen) in order to progress, otherwise the level just continues with no end until the timer runs out. Good stuff.

Sitting down and playing through this title again was a lot of fun, and I’m very glad I did it. Despite the age of the game, there’s still something satisfying about finally rescuing the princess and getting that kiss on the cheek.

Below is my breakdown of the game. Please understand it is simply my opinion.

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Difficulty: Hard – Some levels can be quite challenging even today, but tricks and enemy placement stays the same. There’s nothing that you cannot overcome after several attempts and using good memorization.

Story: Little to no real story. Evil Bowser, the King Koopa kidnaps Princess Peach. Mario and Luigi come to the rescue… Kind of shallow I suppose, but on the other hand, do we really need much of a story for a game like this?

Originality: At the time of release there was nothing like it. Imaginative worlds, fresh ideas for the time.

Soundtrack: Despite the limited resources of the NES and SNES, the music in this game is timeless. SMB contains what is arguably some of the most recognizable game tunes around.

Fun: I had a BLAST playing this with my son. The game is a bit dated nowadays, but that does not detract from it in any way.

Graphics: This is true for both the NES version and SNES. At the time of release everything about this game looked state of the art. Today, both versions still carry the cartoon vibe extremely well.

Playcontrol: Perfect on the original version. The Wii version of the games suffers a bit in the play control area. The classic controller and classic controller pro are great, but the cross pad and control stick feel a little loose. I had several character deaths that were the direct result of the control not responding the way they would have on the original hardware. It’s not horrid, but it is noticeable.

Overall Rating (out of four stars):  4 Stars

Available today on: Wii, Virtual Console, eShop

Other Reviews In This Series:

SMB   –   SMB Lost Levels  –  SMB 2  –  SMB 3  –  SM World – SM World 2-  SM Land  –  SM Land 2  – SM Land 3 –  Mario 64 – Mario Sunshine – New SMB – Galaxy – Galaxy 2 – New SMB Wii – Mario 3D Land – New SMB 2 – New SMB U – SMB 3D World

Paper Mario – Thousand Year Door – Super Paper Mario – Sticker Star

Wario Land 2 – Wario Land 3 – Wario Land 4 – Master of Disguise – Wario Land Shake It

Luigi’s Mansion – Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon – Super Princess Peach