Video Game: Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
The second game in the Super Mario Bros.
series. Following the success of Super Mario Bros. 1
decided to follow it up with a Mission Pack Sequel
, titled Super Mario Bros 2
. There were four main differences between the original and the sequel: the two-player mode was replaced by the option to play the game as either Mario or Luigi, Luigi was given higher jumps but inferior traction, some of the graphics were updated, and the game was about as close to Platform Hell
as one gets short of a romhack.
The game came into existence when Miyamoto
and his crew were working on Vs. Super Mario Bros.
(an arcade version of the first Super Mario
) and were modifying the game to make it suitable for the arcade's pay-per-play model (i.e. the game was made harder and many bugs and infinite lives exploits were removed). Among the changes made to Vs. Super Mario
was replacing some of the Hard Mode Filler
stages from the latter half of the game by making the earlier versions of these stages hard from the get-go and replacing the later versions with new stages (that would later be integrated into Lost Levels
itself). Miyamoto decided to create an alternate home version of Super Mario Bros
composed entirely of new stages aimed specifically at hardcore fans of the original, resulting in the production of Super Mario Bros. 2
for the Disk System.
Even though this was back when every game - including the first installment - was Nintendo Hard
, the insane difficulty of this game infuriated many players, making Nintendo decide not to release it in America nor Europe
. Still, the game sold well in Japan, it sold 2.5 million units, and was the all-time best-selling on the Family Computer Disk System. However, Nintendo of America needed a Western Mario sequel in record time, so Nintendo put Mario sprites into another Nintendo game, Doki Doki Panic
, and called it Super Mario Bros. 2
(Super Mario USA
in Japan so the Japanese wouldn't be confused when that game got released over there). When the original Super Mario Bros. 2
was finally released in America and Europe as part of the Super Mario All-Stars Compilation Re-release
, it was instead titled Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
. It was also included in the Game Boy Color
remake of the first game, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe
(though in both All-Stars
, it shares the same graphics as its predecessor, losing some of its uniqueness).
Tropes differing from the first game:
- A Winner Is You: Reach World 9-4 and you get a message made of blocks that reads "アリガトウ!" (Arigatou!, or "Thank you!")
- Anti-Frustration Features:
- Both the SNES and Game Boy Color ports allow you to save the game per level, and you get infinite continues, which makes a grueling game much more tolerable.
- In 7-2, one of the trickiest levels in the game, each time you loop around the first part, a new mushroom block will always pop in, in case you lost a hit trying to get up to the level's warp pipe.
- Some of the backwards warp zones have bottomless pits allowing you to kill yourself instead of just letting the timer count down to 0 (or, heaven forbid, actually warping backwards with the result that world 9 is Lost Forever).
- Art Evolution
- While the Mario Bros. and enemy sprites remain unchanged, the backgrounds now look different: the ground is now made from rock instead of brick, the clouds and bushes now have faces, mountains now look more jagged in appearance, trees are now drawn more realistically, the fence posts are replaced with mushrooms, lifts are now made of mushrooms instead of metal, bricks now have shading, the giant mushroom platforms are now replaced with cloud platforms, mushroom powerups now have eyes for the first time, and Princess Peach now has a redesigned sprite. Drop shadows were also added to the text so they are easier to read against the bright blue backgrounds.
- This also applies to the promotional art, which depicted the characters (particularly Bowser and Peach) much closer to their now standard designs (here's a comparison between the manuals for this game and the original), although Mario still has his red overalls/blue shirt design from the first game instead of the blue overalls/red shirt design he would later used in every game since Super Mario Bros. 3.
- Ascended Glitch: World 9 was inspired by a glitch in the Famicom version of the first Super Mario (that is impossible to reproduce on the NES version due to the different hardware design) that was reported by publications such as Family Computer Magazine. The glitch involved removing the Super Mario cartridge during mid-play and switching with a copy of Tennis, playing a few rounds after resetting the game and then switching back to Super Mario (resetting the game again) and using the continue code. All of this is done without turning off the system. The World 9 in question is an underwater version of World 6-2 and World 1-4 with random enemies and crashes.
- Brutal Bonus Level: The game itself is hard enough but worlds A to D take it to a whole other level.
- Bubbly Clouds: In addition to the "Coin Heaven" bonus areas from the first game, a few levels (the end of 8-2, 8-3, and A-3) take place in the clouds.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
- In addition to red and green Koopas, this game also introduced red Piranha Plants, which pop in and out of pipes faster than the original green ones and emerge even if you're standing next to their pipe.
- Also applies to the Poison Mushroom. Its color palette matches the background in the 8-bit versions (brown in overworld levels, blue underground, gray in castles). The All-Stars version went even farther to distinguish it, making it purple with a large skull on it.
- Cosmetic Award: In the FDS version, every time the game is cleared without warp zones, a star appears on the title screen. While eight stars is needed to access Worlds A through D, anything over that (the maximum being twenty-four) is nothing but bragging rights.
- Divergent Character Evolution: Luigi gets his distinctive abilities here (higher jumps, doesn't stop on a dime), predating the US/EU sequel.
- Double Unlock: In the Famicom version of the game, to get access to worlds A to D, you had to beat the game eight times in a row. This was changed in the All-Stars port where you just have to beat the game once to play the rest of the worlds.
- Easter Egg: Like in the original SMB, if you wait long enough on the title screen, then a brief demo will start to play. It also explains why you shouldn't touch Poison Mushrooms in the first place.
- Endless Game: In the original, if you beat the game without warping, you can play World 9. But when you play through World 9 it just continues to loop, until you die or give up. However, in All-Stars, beating world 9-4 leads to world A-1 instead of looping.
- Game-Breaking Bug:
- An important springboard in world D-2 can sometimes fail to spawn, making it impossible to jump across the wide gap to the flagpole.
- World C-3, where the fifth green spring (after the first three Piranha Plants) won't appear at times, and you need it to cross a very long gap.
- Game Mod: An official one, All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros.. Here, some of the enemy characters and all of the Mushroom Retainers were changed into Japanese celebrities. It was given out as a raffle prize on the Japanese radio show "All Night Nippon".
- Goomba Springboard: This play mechanic makes its debut in the Mario series here. Also the Trope Namer. For some reason, this mechanic is removed in the GBC release, playing more like its predecessor, although levels were edited to compensate the removal.
- Guide Dang It: Worlds 2-2 and 8-2. Because of the large gap that Mario cannot jump across by himself, World 2-2 is the first level that requires hitting an invisible block to win. World 8-2 will repeat itself if a player tries to beat it like they would any other level. The only way to beat this level is to hit a block which spawns a Piranha Plant vine to climb up to the flagpole in the sky.
- Hard Mode Filler: Several levels are almost identical, such as 7-4◊ and C-4◊, 7-3◊ and C-3◊. 7-3 is just a level where you have to use several springboards to get across long gaps; C-3 literally does nothing but add a Lakitu (but just that single addition makes the level much, much more frustrating). C-3 also has no checkpoint, unlike 7-3. Die at any point, especially during the wind section near the end which requires very precise timed jumps, and you're doing the whole stage over again.
- Invisible Block: Sure, the first game has them, but Lost Levels places them with the express intention to kill you. Good luck trying to jump past the Hammer Brothers in world 8-3 without hitting invisible blocks and dying on your first few attempts. And many of them contain a Poison Mushroom.
- Jack of All Stats: The first time that Mario does this — he manages to average out from only one other character.
- Lightning Bruiser: Luigi was this for the first time.
- Lost Forever: In the SNES remake, your save file is permanently locked out of World 9 if you used a warp zone prior to when you would start World 9, even if you warped backwards. Not only that, but if you ever use a warp zone after getting World 9, you retroactively lose it for that save file. If you're unfortunate enough to save, that is.
- Meaningless Lives: The All-Stars edition, because it allows you to save after clearing a level rather than a world. The only punishment for getting a game over in this edition is that you have to restart the stage from the beginning (which is only even a problem if you've passed the Check Point).
- Minus World: World 9 uses mismatched tile sets similar to the minus world in the FDS Updated Re-release of SMB 1, and infinitely loops like the original World -1 (except in the All-Stars version).
- Mission Pack Sequel: Most of the game is reusing sprites and tilesets from the first game, with just a few extra ones. This and the difficulty were the two biggest factors as to why Nintendo choose not to release it overseas until the All-Stars remake.
- Mood Whiplash: The fortress in D-4. Halfway through, you're outside in grassland again, then down in a coin-filled bonus room before returning to the fortress. Even more so in the All Stars version, where cheery bonus music is played in bonus rooms.
- Mythology Gag/Metagame: Several points in the game qualify. Consider the first set of ? blocks in World 1-1, where the Mushroom is instead a Poison Mushroom, the first of many.
- Nintendo Hard:
- It's no Kaizo Mario World, but this is definitely the hardest 2D Mario game to date. Notably, every remake of the game has done something to make it slightly easier. Even the Super Mario All-Stars and Game Boy Color ports save the game on a per level basis, rather than a per world basis as is the case with every other game it includes. It also removed a number of Invisible Blocks specifically designed to cause unintended player deaths (although many were still left in), particularly in later stages, then added invisible blocks containing power-ups elsewhere. It also makes Worlds 9 and A-D much easier to get to.
- Playing the game on Super Mario Bros. DX makes it even harder via Fake Difficulty; since the Game Boy has a smaller screen, you can hardly see what's ahead. Sometimes you can't even tell if there's a pit or solid ground below you. This version also removes the wind and Goomba Springboard mechanics, making some jumps extremely difficult. On the flipside, the wind jumps have their platforms re-arranged to be closer than the original, and since there are several levels where the wind isn't required to make jumps and is just there to mess with you as you attempt to keep your footing on small platforms and avoid hazards, these levels tend to be a lot simpler on DX, somewhat making up for the small screen.
- In Nes Remix 2, most of the challenges either involve the easiest levels in the game, or are very short.
- Platform Hell: One of the few commercial releases.
- Poison Mushroom:
- The Trope Namer and its first appearance in the series. And its original incarnation, they are almost indistinguishable from normal mushrooms. It is very easy to die at the start of 1-1 if you aren't expecting it. Which, considering that Poison Mushrooms hadn't been seen before this game, most players weren't. However, if you stick around to watch the game demo, you can clearly see Mario trying to get the Poison Mushroom and dying, allowing this type of death to be averted by patient players. This says nothing, however, about Poison Mushrooms in Underground and Castle levels, since the mushrooms' colors change and thus may lead a less Genre Savvy player to conclude that it's a different kind of mushroom.
- The SNES release makes the Poison Mushrooms a completely and totally unmistakable solid purple with a skull on the cap of the mushroom and gave them angry eyes. If you still picked one of these up, you deserved it.
- The Lost Levels also has backwards warp zones. And entering them not only takes the player back to the first world, but also renders access to World 9 impossible.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Most of Koji Kondo's classic compositions from the last game were recycled here. In addition, a "Burning Rubber" sound (later recycled in Super Mario Bros. 3) was added, as was a "Wind blowing" sound. The ending theme was also given a complete makeover, similar to the Vs. arcade version, only with an extended bridge, and octave change.
- Secret Level: Worlds 9, A, B, C, and D. Some bordering on Brutal Bonus Level (even in relation to the rest of the game).
- Sequel Difficulty Spike: It's much more difficult than the first game, and more difficult than all subsequent games as well.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: in Super Mario All-Stars. Of course they'd give the hardest Mario game in history a title screen with gentle harp and string music.
- Suspicious Video Game Generosity: Frequently, if this game gives you a star, you don't actually want to take it. Either it will prevent you from getting one-ups from using Koopa shells on enemies (which you'll need) or you won't even be able to complete the level (8-2 is an example of this).
- This Was His True Form: Just like in the first game, all the Bowsers but the last one will reveal themselves to be minor enemies in disguise if defeated with fireballs. The All-Stars version adds new enemies for World A-C and makes the Bowser in World D the real one. (Note that getting to some of these Bowsers with fireballs requires glitching through levels).
- Underground Monkey: The new red Piranha Plants pop out of their pipes even if Mario is standing next to them. (If you're standing directly over them, at least in the All-Stars version, the ones from ground-based pipes won't emerge, but if you're standing on the edge of the pipe, they will. However, the ones that emerge from upside-down pipes will emerge regardless of where Mario stands).
- Warp Zone: Just like in the first game, except there's some which send you backwards. Using any of them prevents you from getting to World 9. In many instances of reaching backwards Warp Zones, there's a conveniently-placed pit where you can kill yourself to avoid warping back. If it doesn't, such as the one in 8-1, you can always just wait for the timer to expire.