Join 3,438 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A giant puzzle and practical joke
November 5, 2007 1:26 PM   Subscribe

“In most games, you trust that the designer is guiding you, through the usual signposts and landmarks, in the direction that you ought to go. In the Real Super Mario Bros. 2, you have no such faith. Here, [game designer] Miyamoto is not God but the devil.” Slate assesses the true sequel to Super Mario Bros.
posted by tepidmonkey (60 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh? This has been available for a decade at least. It was part of the Super Mario All-Stars cart on the Super Nintendo.
posted by koeselitz at 1:28 PM on November 5, 2007


"The American version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is an odd duck of a sequel that isn't really reviled but also isn't really remembered at all."

Uh, I think people remember it, but more as a WTF than as a fond nostalgic memory.
posted by grouse at 1:28 PM on November 5, 2007


Not to dis on the post - I really, really like 'Lost Levels,' I just don't see how anybody could think that this wasn't available to US kids, when I SAW THE BEST MINDS OF MY GENERATION DESTROYED by it...
posted by koeselitz at 1:29 PM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


In college, we filmed, but never edited a mockumentary about our friend that was amazing at 'the lost levels'...a game so frustrating that it took most of us the whole year to beat. Without the save feature included in the 'Mario All-Stars' game for SNES, i probably never would have finished it...
posted by schyler523 at 1:30 PM on November 5, 2007


Okay, now I'm reading TFA... that wasn't really the real game? Wow! ...

*begins salivating*

posted by koeselitz at 1:30 PM on November 5, 2007


Actually, grouse, I was just about to pop in here to rave about how much I loved that game. It's still my favorite out of all the Mario games, by far. It's easily one of the slots in my list of top five NES games ever, constantly fighting for space in my heart with the original Zelda and Startropics.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:32 PM on November 5, 2007


Really? What was it you liked about it?
posted by grouse at 1:34 PM on November 5, 2007


Lots of things... the bizarre dreamlike character and level design, primarily, but I think what sustained me was the difference between the characters' abilities. After switching back and forth between the characters, I started getting a really tactile vibe from the game -- it made me feel weak when I pulled up veggies as the Princess, it made me feel drunkenly exhilirated when I jumped as Luigi, it made me feel like a small frantic powerhouse to pull up clods of sand in the desert as Toad.

More than any other NES game I can think of, it's the one that was most able to trick me into feeling like I was actually in the physics of its world.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:40 PM on November 5, 2007 [10 favorites]


I just don't see how anybody could think that this wasn't available to US kids

It was very much not available at the time that it was a current release. The Doki Doki Panic -> SMB2 hijinks were a noted departure, and folks (if they read their magazines or Knew People or whatever) were aware of this weird true-sequel Japanese release but didn't actually have access to it for a serious gulf of years—when it did finally arrive on that SNES cart, the timing was all wrong.

It'd be one thing if the SMB franchise had died out after the first American release; finding The Lost Levels would then be a sort of wonder, if a hair-tearing proposition at that. Compare it to the second quest in the original Legend of Zelda—the same game, in principle, but more so, and harder, and mixed up some.

But Mario didn't fizzle out, and by the time we got The Lost Levels over here, we already had the consective revelations of SMB3 and then Super Mario World. With those in play, the original Japanese sequel looked pretty grimly out of date: all the simplicity and sluggish controls of the original game, without the familiar improvments and revisions of the following titles and a lot more of a pain in the ass to play besides.

So while, sure, there were plenty of kids with access to the game, they weren't the kids who were the kids who first worked their way through the original SMB, and the world was not the same world where SMB first came out. The Slate writer didn't pick up the SNES cart, fine; but the SNES cart itself was way too late for The Lost Levels to be anything but a footnote.
posted by cortex at 1:42 PM on November 5, 2007


"The American version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is an odd duck of a sequel that isn't really reviled but also isn't really remembered at all."

Yeah, except for the bob-ombs, and Birdo and shyguys and all the other enemies that keep showing up in subsequent games, and the fact that for a game that wasn't ever really expected to be a true sequel did a lot to develop the series' personality and character.

The ending still ranks as one of my favorite game endings of all time.

SMB2j wasn't fun. It was hard. Unfairly hard. Un-fun hard.
posted by ShawnStruck at 1:45 PM on November 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


(And I don't know what the writer is smoking regarding the American doki-doki-redux SMB2 being a forgotten title; people have differing opinions on it, but it was hugely influential as a title and sold like hotcakes. It's kind of a step outside of the [as yet not firmly established] Mario canon, but so were a lot of the early sequels. I think you'll find more people dinging Zelda 2 than SMB2, and both were regardless very fine games compared to most of what was coming out.)
posted by cortex at 1:46 PM on November 5, 2007


I can't speak for greg nog, but I remember thinking I'd never played a game with that much environmental activity before when it first came out (the american super mario 2, I mean). Of course, my elementary school self didn't use those words. more like "dude, you can pull shit out of the ground and throw it! and duck behind hills and shit!"
posted by shmegegge at 1:47 PM on November 5, 2007


Zelda 2 was a cancer on video games even when it came out. I hated that game so much I broke it on purpose.
posted by shmegegge at 1:48 PM on November 5, 2007


I think you'll find more people dinging Zelda 2 than SMB2

oh Zelda 2 suckled at my taint hard
posted by Greg Nog at 1:48 PM on November 5, 2007


I AM ERROR.
posted by tepidmonkey at 1:50 PM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I actually thought SMB2 was awesome, too. I still find myself humming the music at times.
posted by blacklite at 1:52 PM on November 5, 2007


The American SMB2 is actually my favorite NES SMB title. Agree wholeheartedly with the similar above posts.
posted by OldReliable at 1:53 PM on November 5, 2007


And yes, gaming obsessives, I know that a version of the Lost Levels made it into 1993's Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo. But that wasn't the Real Super Mario Bros. 2—that was a colorized Citizen Kane.

Well I was about to say... And I'm not sure what he is talking about about it being a "colorized citizen kane". Did he play both and not like it? Were the controls just slightly sharper?

And Cortex: How do you know whether what you're saying is true or not? Have you spoken with every SMB fan out there or even very many of them? I mean it's not like today where you can go online and read what other people in your demographic think about something, this was back in the day when the only other opinion sources were the kids around you. I don't remember getting that excited about SMB: Allstars when I was a kid, but maybe I was just the wrong age: Not quite old enough for a nostalgia trip. But on the other hand, maybe lots of people were.
posted by delmoi at 2:01 PM on November 5, 2007


(And yes, gaming obsessives, I know that a version of the Lost Levels made it into 1993's Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo. But that wasn't the Real Super Mario Bros. 2—that was a colorized Citizen Kane.)

Anyone know what the author is referring to by this? Just the fact that you didn't have to play it all at one sitting*?

*and by "sitting" I mean "as long as you can leave the Nintendo on without the game freezing up or yer mom turning it off
posted by Challahtronix at 2:06 PM on November 5, 2007


beaten by delmoi while trying to figure out the coding for smaller text on meFi
posted by Challahtronix at 2:07 PM on November 5, 2007


Anyone know what the author is referring to by this?

Unfortunately I do know what he is referring to. In Super Mario All-Stars, the graphics were "enhanced" from the original games. Basically they were more colorful.
posted by jefbla at 2:13 PM on November 5, 2007


The true SMB2 also appeared in the Game Boy color version of Super Mario Brothers, titled Super Mario DX. It was even further hardened by the smaller screen of the GameBoy.
posted by zabuni at 2:14 PM on November 5, 2007


SMB2 was a great game, and it did a fantastic job of creating lasting characters.

I was kind of under the impression that Miyamoto didn't have much to do with The Lost Levels, executive producer in name only. But I'm not sure where I heard that. Possibly during the Retronauts podcast on the Mario series.

At any rate, he was directly involved with SMB2, and the changes between it and Doki Doki are numerous. I'd say that Lost Levels is probably more forgettable than SMB2. It's just Mario again, only harder.
posted by graventy at 2:17 PM on November 5, 2007


Guessing, but I imagine the author refers to the graphical makeover--many of the games in Super Mario All-Stars got updated visuals to take advantage of the SNES' increased graphical power.
posted by box at 2:19 PM on November 5, 2007


And Cortex: How do you know whether what you're saying is true or not? Have you spoken with every SMB fan out there or even very many of them?

Mruh? I'm not speculating to know the minds of SMB fans. I'm stating, unequivocally, that the world had moved on from the time when SMB came out to the time when The Lost Levels came out on that SNES cart. I don't mean that kids who liked SMB in 86 didn't like the japanese sequel when they got it in 93; I mean that they were seven years and and games-wiser thanks to that strange interim.

Someone who cut their teeth on SMB1 is going to have a different interpretation of The Lost Levels than someone who cut their teeth on Super Mario World. Any kid who grew up with the impression that The Lost Levels had always been available missed out on some of the context of those earliest days of the franchise, is what I'm saying. For good or for ill. The lack of a US release of the sequel was a conspicuous absence for some of us. A little bit of heartbreak.
posted by cortex at 2:19 PM on November 5, 2007


I actually thought SMB2 was awesome, too. I still find myself humming the music at times.

Heh. I'm humming it while reading this thread. Doot Doo Doo-Doo Doo-Doot Doot Dootely-Doot-Doo...
posted by Rock Steady at 2:20 PM on November 5, 2007


There is a decent point-by-point on the game and engine differences between the original SMB and The Lost Levels and what hit the SNES cart, if you want some more detail. The short of it is that, aside from some cosmetic stuff, the SNES release was a little less pathological about some of the hardcore details. Sacrificing art for the sake of playability, if you will.
posted by cortex at 2:25 PM on November 5, 2007


The insanely awesome thing about the SMB2 music was that when you paused the game, it muted the melody, revealing a catchy and almost totally unrelated bass line. I used to sit there with it paused, wondering how on earth they got two different tunes to work together like that. All of which means that now, whenever I'm with someone who has the melody stuck in his or her head, I can come in underneath and completely nerd-bliss out.
posted by darksasami at 2:32 PM on November 5, 2007 [8 favorites]


cortex: "So while, sure, there were plenty of kids with access to the game, they weren't the kids who were the kids who first worked their way through the original SMB, and the world was not the same world where SMB first came out. The Slate writer didn't pick up the SNES cart, fine; but the SNES cart itself was way too late for The Lost Levels to be anything but a footnote."

delmoi: "Well I was about to say... And I'm not sure what he is talking about about it being a "colorized citizen kane". Did he play both and not like it? Were the controls just slightly sharper?"

Well, I have to say, having read the article, the game he describes isn't the Lost Levels I'm familiar with. I mean, for one thing, the mushroom of death doesn't look like a normal mushroom in Lost Levels, but it looks just the same in SMB2j. That's a real difference, a difference in play, and if there are other differences, I can understand what he means.

That said, I loved Lost Levels for many years, and have to say I agree with his general point: this is a great game, better than the original and better than any that have come after it in the SMB franchise.
posted by koeselitz at 2:44 PM on November 5, 2007


I mean, for one thing, the mushroom of death doesn't look like a normal mushroom in Lost Levels, but it looks just the same in SMB2j.

Well, not just the same. Different spotting, for the attentive. But I hear you; the purple angry deathshrooms in the SNES release are probably the least superficial of the cosmetic changes—again with the lessening of the pathological approach of the Japanese release.
posted by cortex at 2:53 PM on November 5, 2007


Wikipedia says:
To access World 9 (or "Fantasy World" as it is also known in the original release), the player must complete every castle from Worlds 1-8 in the course of the game, though in the All-Stars version having entered one warp zone in the course of the game will also disqualify the player. The other four secret worlds are labeled A through D. To access these worlds, the player needs to finish the game eight times, then hold the A button and press Start on the controller at the title screen.
Wow, that is pathological..
posted by grouse at 2:54 PM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


ASSHOLE MARIO

there are many stages to watch. if you feel the need to do that.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:59 PM on November 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


I'm schocked - shocked! - to discover that I not only really enjoyed that article, but that it actually spun SMB2j into a strange little philosophical exercise. The fact that rewards and punishments looked the same in SMB2j completely changes the personality of the game - it adds a certain nervousness and darkness to the cheery universe of SMB.

The fact that subsequent sequels have added to SMB in different ways helped correctly frame the accomplishment of SMB2j: while not as "good" or as "fun" or as "maturely designed" as SMB3 or SMW, SMB2j gets a lot of mileage out of being a quietly sadistic puzzle game.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:12 PM on November 5, 2007


If you liked the music in SMB2 USA, there’s a pretty great jazz remix you should listen to. (Direct link to mp3.)
posted by tepidmonkey at 3:19 PM on November 5, 2007


I too loved the US SMB2 and the weird-ass legacy it left to the mario canon... especially the overworld music (but not the underworld or birdo battle music). Here is a fantastic big-band arrangement of that song by Estradasphere just in case you haven't heard it before.

My favorite thing about SMB2 in addition to the almost visceral physics that Greg Nog mentioned was the Extra Chance slot machine thing at the end of each level... I found it very easy to find the rhythm and get 3 cherries and 5 extra lives with almost each coin, giving scads of lives and enough to finish the game without too much frustration.

The ending was indeed great, and featured one of the greatest tunes in all of chipdom... that song was almost an obsession for me, I programmed almost every synth I came across to play it, just 'to see how it sounds'.

The lost levels version on mario all-stars had different sprites for everything and a much more modern look for mario, plus all-new backgrounds with parallax scrolling. Honestly, even as a mario fan, the lost levels were just not interesting so long after their time and I barely touched them. Like cortex said, its conspicuous absence during the 80s made it not as interesting by the time the 90s rolled around. Simply put, by the 90s, games that hard weren't fun anymore. If you were looking for mario nostalgia with your Mario All-Stars SNES cart, why would you struggle through the lost levels when SMB3 is just a press of the d-pad away?

It's very cool to see this sort of stuff starting to trickle out onto the Wii and even cooler to see it be successful... it bodes well for future gems. I'd would love to see the original Doki Doki panic on the Wii shop to see how it compares.
posted by ulotrichous at 3:19 PM on November 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


There are only two things in SMB2j that I would say were outright unfair: Yes, there are lots of other things that make the game harder, and maybe they make the game so hard that it's not people's cup of tea, but there's nothing unfair about them. This is an important distinction. For some of us, overcoming a tough but fair challenge is its own reward, and I would like for there to still be a space for those games. Even better if some of those games aren't shmups.
posted by brett at 3:25 PM on November 5, 2007


From TFA:

"The key to excelling at Super Mario Bros.—I have no idea how to excel at the Real Super Mario Bros. 2—is to learn the game's territory, to become so deeply familiar with it that you don't even have to think about what you're doing. But to do that requires painstaking exploration. You can't just test each block of bricks—to uncover all of the game's secrets you have to test every single block of airspace, in case a hidden vine, extra life, or coin box is hiding there."

And he will never excel at Lost Levels, because he is an adult now. Were he a kid, he'd have had all the time in the world to learn to excel at Lost Levels. But as an adult, with all the intrusions and responsibilities of an adult life scratching at his window, he won't be able to do it.

I remember as a kid I would hole myself up in my room for endless summer days, playing and replaying games like Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario World and so on. I got all the hearts in Zelda: A Link to the Past. I was able to wake up and say "I'm going to play through Super Mario Brothers 3 today, using no warp zones." I had the time to do that.

But as an adult who works 5 days a week, on my weekends I wake up, read the news on the internet, make breakfast, go for a walk, try and get into my girlfriends pants and then, after being told in no uncertain terms that that wasn't going to happen, I'd probably switch on the Wii. At which point I'd stare aimlessly at the channels wondering what to play. At the moment, it's Super Paper Mario, which I have owned for the last month or two. But I've only reached Chapter 4. Because real life dosen't allow for me to spend close to 7 days a week ploughing through the game. And I want to finish it before Mario Galaxy comes out, so I spend as much time as I can with it. Which isn't much.

If I load up Zelda: A Link to the Past on the virtual console now, I play it and recall those great days as a kid. But will I find all the hearts? Fuck no. Because I can't be bothered and because I can't fucking remember where they all are.

So basically, yeah, I sympathise with the author. He wants to excel at The Lost Levels, but can't and never will. I am in the same boat. I want desperately to excel at this Mario game, but I just don't have the time to do that. Maybe if I made more money from my job I could hire a neighbourhood kid to play the game for me under my name, but I don't, so I won't.

Being an adult sucks.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:27 PM on November 5, 2007 [11 favorites]


But our generation's retirement will be awesome.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:50 PM on November 5, 2007 [11 favorites]


Great post. I ❤ Mario and have been playing ever since he was known as "Jumpman" back in the Donkey Kong days. I still play SMB3 and SMW all the time.

I was psyched for Lost Levels and plunked down my $6 for this on the Wii console a few weeks ago, and it's so bloody ridiculously goddamned mind-bogglingly difficult, I gave it up after half-an-hour.

Now that SMB3 has hit the Virtual Console servers, maybe I should run through that first to hone my chops, then try The Lost Levels again.
posted by porn in the woods at 3:52 PM on November 5, 2007


I, too, liked Super Mario 2. If you played as Princess Peach, your jump control was amazing. Hold down the jump button and she'd just hang in the air...it was beautiful.

I liked the music, too. So nanner nanner, haters!
posted by zardoz at 3:52 PM on November 5, 2007


"But our generation's retirement will be awesome."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:50 AM on November 6

You give me hope, sir.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:16 PM on November 5, 2007


Hey Greg Nog, I agree that SMB2 had good "physics" in the play control. I think there are some better examples on the NES though. Bionic Commando, and Metalstorm both bring a lot of gravity, momentum, and interaction with the involvement into play.

I think US SMB2 did a lot to progress the lore and allure of the Mario franchise. When I first loaded it up back in the seventh grade, I remember thinking it had the best graphics I'd ever seen on a home game.

Here's a 1UP Retronauts podcast on Mario 2:
linky
posted by autodidact at 4:33 PM on November 5, 2007


"I think US SMB2 did a lot to progress the lore and allure of the Mario franchise. When I first loaded it up back in the seventh grade, I remember thinking it had the best graphics I'd ever seen on a home game."
posted by autodidact at 10:33 AM on November 6

As did I. And I loved US SMB2, or, as I still refer to it, SMB2. Because to me it is SMB2, despite the fact I know that The Lost Levels exists and it's meant to be the 'real' SMB2.

Like it or love it, US SMB2 was SMB2 to a lot of kids growing up outside of Japan, and really, it wasn't until maybe a decade later, when Super Mario All Stars came along that most western kids found out that they had played a pretender. Only then did I, as a kid who read gaming magazines religiously on a monthly (!) basis was I told by the esteemed gaming press that there had been another, different SMB2 in Japan.

The internet has a lot to answer for when it comes to the demonisation of US SMB2. All these hard-core Nintendo fan-boys want to show how l337 they are and will tell you that your Nintendo street cred is somehow tainted if you like US SMB over the official Japanese game. I say BAH! to that. BAH I say!

How many of these internet nerds today, these geeks who sit on internet message boards and alt.nintendo.geeks or whatever, discussing the finer points between Lost Levels and US SMB2 really would have been sitting infront of their NES at age 8 thinking "oh yeah, this game is just Doki Doki Panic. Pish posh! Lost Levels would have been such a better game! I shall register my discontent at the turn with which this franchise is taking!" Answer: none. Not one. They would have been sucking down sodas while flinging Shyguys off of cliffs, is what they would have been doing. And loving it.

Without knowing that there was something else out there, we western kids played and enjoyed US SMB2. And I did and still do. It had great graphics for the time, a different style of gaming and a nice ending. I still remember thinking that that animated end screen of Mario sleeping was awesome for the time, and the music was sweet for that ending too.

If you can look past your hard-core Nintendo credentials, if you can look past the internet chatter that has vilified it, if you look past the fact that it was another game with Mario pasted on top of it, you will see that US SMB2 was and, in many ways still is, a good (if not great) game and in the end, that's all that matters.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:57 PM on November 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


retirement? You think they're gonna let us retire?
posted by stenseng at 4:57 PM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bionic Commando! I would just swing around and around and not even complete the levels.
posted by eustatic at 4:59 PM on November 5, 2007


Nthing the greatness of SMB2. Every couple of years I go back to that and the original Zelda like one goes back to a favorite novel.

The ending was indeed great, and featured one of the greatest tunes in all of chipdom... that song was almost an obsession for me

This?

I really liked it as well. Combined with the visual of Mario sleeping and the credits it seemed magically peaceful. Icing on the proverbial cake.
posted by weston at 5:05 PM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another thing I remember being significant about SMB2 was there was no points, no score. The ojbective was just to negotiate the levels. I found that really appealing and "pure". I also noticed it in Metroid.
posted by autodidact at 5:09 PM on November 5, 2007


And above I meant to say "interaction with the environment".
posted by autodidact at 5:11 PM on November 5, 2007


I love SMB2 too. I loved it when it came out, and I just replayed it all the way through (something I hadn't the patience for as a kid) and loved it again.

I'm not a gaming nerd--just a nerd that likes to play games--I didn't even know about Doki Doki Panic, and though I knew about the Lost Levels, I never really thought about where they fell in the whole sequence. I just liked playing all the games, especially SMB2. It's totally whacked out--that's why I like it.

I don't think I realized as a kid how hard it was. But when I played it again as an adult I really did. I think games were so much harder then. These days I can push through almost any game on my xbox. But those old games...I actually have to cheat sometimes to get all the way through.

So...shells were creepy racist black disembodied heads. Weird.
posted by lampoil at 6:08 PM on November 5, 2007


Oh, I loooooved SMB2 (the US version.) I think I was super-pleased by the fact that Peach was her own character, instead of some fool waiting in a castle to be saved.

Did you guys use the same character over and over, or did you switch for different levels?

And now I see that I can buy the Lost Levels on the Wii. So I'll be busy for a while, thanks.
posted by sugarfish at 6:32 PM on November 5, 2007


I just want to say that those bird-head-door-things that tried to kill you in the last world of SMB2 terrified me as a child. The floating heads that came after you while you were carrying a key were creepy as hell, too.
posted by mek at 6:44 PM on November 5, 2007


I was ALWAYS Princess Peach. Even as an adult. Once I got used to that jumping control, I couldn't give it up, even though the other characters had their own advantages. It probably made the game even harder, in retrospect.

It was probably the first video game I ever played where playing a female character was possible.
posted by lampoil at 6:48 PM on November 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I switched. Mario, Princess, Toad, in order of frequency. Never liked to play Luigi except for one particular shortcut that he could reach that nobody else seemed to be able to.

I just want to say that those bird-head-door-things that tried to kill you in the last world of SMB2 terrified me as a child. The floating heads that came after you while you were carrying a key were creepy as hell, too.

I can't remember anything else from a game that actually startled me as a teenager. But those masks? Creepy. They're still a little creepy.
posted by weston at 7:20 PM on November 5, 2007


One day all of us are going to be sitting around in rest homes (if we're lucky?) and talking about Mario the way our grandparents talked about Bing Crosby and FDR.

It'll make perfect sense to us, but be completely unintelligible to anyone under the age of 200.
posted by Avenger at 7:46 PM on November 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Princess Peach? Revisionist history. She's Princess Toadstool, damnit.
posted by ELF Radio at 11:22 PM on November 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


US SMB2 was the only one I bothered finishing. I still remember when I found the first warp zone. Very cool aha moment. Although one of my all time favorite games is still the Neverhood.
posted by jeblis at 2:27 AM on November 6, 2007


Actually, yeah, I always called her Princess Toadstool, too. It was, like, a few months ago that I realized they now call her Peach.
posted by lampoil at 6:52 AM on November 6, 2007


She was always Princess Peach in Japan, according to Wikipedia. They sometimes get around this by calling her Princess Peach Toadstool. Of course, these are the same people who gave us Mario Mario and Luigi Mario in the movie.
posted by Gary at 10:34 AM on November 6, 2007


The masks were the scariest things in any video game for me up to that time, I would be rushing and rushing to get the key to the door every time, pulse pounding.

But then I realized the masks go away as soon as you drop the key.

They're the easiest enemies on earth to avoid. But they put on a good show.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:05 PM on November 6, 2007


I've been working through Lost Levels on Wii Virtual Console over the past few days. The game stands as a good example of a master designer working on the rules introduced in the first game and mining them completely dry of ideas. Nearly every implication of the original Super Mario Bros.' rules and physics is taken advantage of: there's a warp that can't be reached if you're big, there are negative warps, and there's even a fake maze in a castle in the bonus levels: the player sees the scenery cycling and assumes he's gotta find the right route through, but actually it's just a really long level.

The thing about it is, in addition to having to memorize the locations of the negative warps so one doesn't encounter them accidentally (some, but not all, include a handy suicide pit nearby), that it really forces you to master the game physics, especially relating to bouncing off of turtles.

There are areas later in the game where there are boobytrap Starmen, where the player grabs one thinking "yay invincibility," then proceeds to fall right through a turtle that must be bounced off to make a jump. Then there's 8-2, which is an infinite loop unless the player hits a block after bouncing off a turtle.

The game teaches that it's a lot easier to make turtle-bounce jumps when big, due to the way the game detects bounces. Basically, if the player is coming down from a jump and touches a stompable enemy, it counts as a stomp, even if the player touched the enemy's side, so Mario/Luigi can use a flying turtle as a way to get extra jump height even if it looks like his upper body is going to collide.
posted by JHarris at 10:52 AM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


« Older Believe it or not, there was a record for running ...  |  The ten worst album covers of ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments