Reviews: Super Mario Bros 2

Super Mario Advance, or How an Infamous Sophomore Slump Became, err, Less Slumpy

Despite growing up with this game as part of Super Mario All-Stars, the first game cartridge I ever owned, I have few fond memories of it. It was just the "other" game on the cart that was there if I needed a change of scenery from Bros. 1 or 3 (Lost Levels was out of the question from the get-go: I was not, nor am I now, a big enough masochist to even bother giving it a proper play). As a game, let alone a sequel to the first game that truly highlighted the full potential of video games, it just plain leaves me cold and wholly un-entertained. "E'rry tiem," as the kids say these days. This is a roundabout way of saying that yes, this was a game to which mowing the lawn seemed a more engaging activity; the very capital sin of game design.

There's nothing technically wrong with it; in fact, it pioneered more than its share of ideas and characters that would became mainstays of the Mario series as a whole... only, usually implemented in a better fashion. Aside from having the tepid gameplay and pace usually associated with contemporary third-rate licensed games based on some obscure, long-forgotten animated series, it's suffused with forgettable level design, and a frustrating feeling of never really accomplishing anything (having your hard-earned life containers taken away at the close of every level sucks hard) besides gathering lives you'll need for the few times the game decides to provide any noteworthy challenge (usually in the form of Goddamned Bats, the era's poor excuse for "difficulty", that the game does little to train you to handle) And in the end, after making a poor man's Bowser eat his veggies (seriously!) it's revealed to all have been a dream. Whoopee.

...But!

THERE ARE NO CATS IN AMERICAAAAAAAAAAA...

No, wait, what the hell happened there? Anyways...

...But!

Some fifteen years later, some genius at Nintendo had the bright idea, presumably after having been burned by the game much the same way as I, to make it FUN! You wouldn't think Bros. 2 would be a great launch title for the first Nintendo handheld device able to produce colours other than primaries and various shades of puke, but with some choice additions of fresh and engaging (if admittedly, still pretty shallow) things such as a point counter, a more steady stream of power-ups, red coins to be gathered, and even a bit of a second quest dealie that added some genuine, uhh, taxation(?) to a relatively non-taxing game. Not nearly good enough to make it a classic, but these changes, combined with the smaller bursts of playing normally associated with handhelds, finally made it worth the effort to play, at least. Not being a blight on Mario's otherwise exemplary main series record is good enough, for government work.

(...True, the remake also featured drawbacks in terms of those annoying soundbytes they tacked onto everything from that era, but ehh, it's just as well I'm often partial to listening to music with the game sound off, eh?)
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