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Super Mario Bros. 2 Review

Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: September 01, 1988 Also On: GBA

Quite possibly the best-known video game character of all time, Mario either leads or is close to leading on the list of most games appeared in by a video game character. The main series of Mario games had three incarnations on the NES, but the second one was a radical departure from the other two in many ways. However, that is not to say that different is bad, and in this case, although the result is not as entertaining as its predecessor and sequel in my opinion, Super Mario Bros. 2 was a very good game in its own right.

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The graphics of Super Mario Bros. 2 are obviously of a completely different style than its predecessor and sequel. Gone are the pipes, the question-mark blocks, and the goombas, and present are the vases, the grass, and the shyguys. However, everything is very clear to see, and it is easy to tell what one is looking at and, very importantly, to tell the difference between foreground and background. Overall, for 1988, the graphics are done well, even if they do not look Mario-ish.

The sound is passable for its time period. There are only four musical themes in the levels, and one of those is reserved for the final boss alone, so very few people will be able to hear it without a lot of patience and effort. Sadly, the best of the four is that one. The sound effects aren’t any more memorable than the other three musical themes. The original Super Mario Brothers had the same music in almost all of the levels, but that song was truly addictive and classic, unlike the music in this game. In my opinion, this is one of a very few games in which Nintendo dropped the ball when it came to music.

So far as gameplay goes, this one is the black sheep of the three Mario games for the NES. Instead of jumping on enemies to kill them, you jump onto an enemy, pick it up, and throw it into another enemy to kill both of them. If you throw an enemy and it doesn’t hit another enemy, it will steady itself and come after you again, unless you throw it into a hole of course. You can also pick up vegetables and assorted other items to throw at enemies.

Some levels require you to carry a key from somewhere in the level to a locked door. This is complicated for two reasons. One, there is a bad guy whose sole purpose in life is to make your life miserable while you’re holding the key, and two, you can’t hold a key and an enemy, and if you throw the key at an enemy and it falls into a hole or something, you have to backtrack to where you got the key and get it again. That won’t happen as much as I make it sound like, but such things can occur.

There is also a larger emphasis on vines in this game than in either its predecessor or its sequel. It can sometimes get old to have to remember which vine to be on at a particular point, but more often the annoying thing is trying to get Mario to grab onto the other vine when you’re switching from one to another, and if you fall, you keep falling until you land somewhere or grab a vine.

One thing this game does have going for it is a slightly more varied boss set. Rather than every boss being a fire-breathing dragon with the only variance being that some of them throw hammers, there are at five distinct end-of-world bosses (two duplicate in the seven-world game) and three types of the normal end-of-level boss. Also, this game is fairly difficult, so it will last a while as you try to beat it since you can’t save and have to start at the beginning on every attempt.

Overall, this game is shorter than its predecessor, containing only twenty levels in seven worlds, and no ‘second quest’, but it is decently lengthed since levels take longer, and it has high replay value because you’ll have to play it many times before you beat it, and even then, you’ll likely be wanting to play it again. If you don’t have this game, I would recommend you get some version of it.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.3
Written by Martin Review Guide