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Video Game / Super Mario Bros. 2

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You may be looking for Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, the original Japanese sequel to Super Mario Bros. which is known as Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japanese.
Mario and his friends have the adventure of their dreams. Note that Bowser isn't there.

"You've never seen creatures like these! You've never had an adventure like this! It's everything you've dreamed of, and worlds more! It's Super Mario 2!"

Describe Doki Doki Panic, uh... Super Mario USA, um... Super Mario Bros. 2 here.

Super Mario Bros. 2 is the third overall installment in the Super Mario Bros. series. It revolves around Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach (known in the West as Princess Toadstool back in the day) travelling to the land of Subcon to save it from the tyranny of Wart, which has turned it into a land of nightmares. In a literal sense, because he gained his power by corrupting the Dream Machine. Interestingly, this mission was entrusted to Mario by way of a strange dream, in which one of the land's inhabitants begged the famed plumber for his help. This means that Subcon is a Dream Land, to which Mario and company access through a gateway identical to the one seen in the aforementioned dream; hence why many of the events and situations they'll experience, as well as the enemies they'll face (especially how they're faced, since Goomba Stomp no longer works), differ greatly from what Mario and his friends were used to until that point.

Of course, if you've been into the history of video games, you'll know the bigger reason why this dream has come into Mario's mind all of a sudden.

In Japan as well as North America, Super Mario Bros. turned out to be a blockbuster hit, and the Killer App that Nintendo needed to get the Nintendo Entertainment System (and the Famicom, the Japanese version) into the homes of game players. Nintendo of Japan decided to strike while the iron was hot, and push out a sequel as quickly as possible, using both newly designed levels and levels originally created for the arcade version, VS. Super Mario Bros. - the result was titled Super Mario Bros. 2 (and later released internationally as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels). But while the designers and Japanese videogame fans thought it was fun for being even harder than Nintendo Hard, Howard Phillips of Nintendo of America playtested the game and just found it punishing to play, not fun at all. It was decided that the original Super Mario Bros. 2 just wouldn't work for American gamers, since it was both basically a retread of the first game and just too hard, traits that would negatively impact a video game market still recovering from the crash. Furthermore, Nintendo feared the graphics of The Lost Levels would be seen as outdated in the face of new competing games coming from both their own developers and those of their third-party partners.

Meanwhile, 1987's Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic (Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic) started life as a prototype based on Mario being made by the same team in charge of Mario games, having a primary focus on vertical levels and co-op multiplayer; but when Nintendo netted a licensing agreement with Fuji TV, it was revived and rebranded with the mascot characters of Fuji's Yume Kōjō ("Dream Factory" or "Dream Machine") promotional event. When Nintendo of America rejected the Japanese sequel and needed a new one for western markets in a hurry (especially since Super Mario Bros. 3 was already on the way), they re-rebranded Doki Doki Panic to match the Super Mario Bros. characters, ported it from the Family Computer Disk System to the Nintendo Entertainment System, and gave the game a few additional visual upgrades (mostly redone animation), as well as quality-of-life features like adding a run button, improved music and a new boss character. As a result, Nintendo of America unintentionally fulfilled their Japanese sister branch's original intentions regarding the prototype, albeit without the co-op multiplayer; that wouldn't be introduced in its intended form until New Super Mario Bros. Wii, 21 years later.

This game introduced many of the series' iconic enemies (such as Shy Guys, Bob-ombs, Birdo and others) and abilities (such as picking up and carrying items and enemies), and it further developed and differentiated the four main characters (providing Luigi with an in-game taller, lankier appearance, giving Princess Peach her ability to float, and actually codifying Mario as the Jack of All Stats for the first time). The game also received a Recursive Import to Japan in 1992 with the Japanese title Super Mario USA, thus fully wrapping up the canonization process (the only difference is that, in that country, the game is officially listed as the fifth console game and sixth overall, due to the release order). So it may have been a dream, but one that marked an important addition to the series.

This American version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was released in its home country and Canada on October 9, 1988, Europe and Australia in the spring of 1989, and finally in Japan as Super Mario USA in 1992.

The game was later remade for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System as part of the Super Mario All-Stars Compilation Rerelease in 1993, and then with further updates as the first of the individual Super Mario Advance line for the Game Boy Advance in 2001.

The game also received a Japan-exclusive "sequel" in 1996 with BS Super Mario USA, based on the SNES version released for the Satellaview add-on, and its story confirmed that the original game's events are indeed real, as in this follow-up the characters return to Subcon to protect it once again from Wart. The concept of Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad all being playable characters with differing stats and abilities in a Platform Game would resurface in Super Mario 3D World and reappear in Super Mario Run. Lastly, despite not having a dedicated game style in Super Mario Maker or its sequel, the former added several Mystery Mushroom costumes based on enemies and characters from this game, while the latter added assets from it via updates (Pokeynote , a game mode involving Ninjis, a powerup allowing Mario to grab and throw enemies, and keys guarded by Phanto).

This game provides examples of:

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  • Achilles' Heel: Wart hates vegetables.
  • Action Bomb: This game marks Bob-Omb's debut. They're usually thrown away by Albatosses from the sky to harm Mario and company; some castle levels also have vases that unleash them with the same purpose in mind. Unlike in future games, Bob-Ombs will explode after a few seconds even if they're not being attacked.
  • Action Girl: This game is notable for being Princess Peach's playable debut. Her royal upbringing and demure experience compared to the Mario Bros., plus not being dressed for adventure, means she isn't quite as athletic or powerful (she's the slowest runner, takes a bit to pick things up, and doesn't jump very high), but her talent to float for a few seconds makes platforming a cinch and lets her avoid enemies and obstacles easily.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In Doki Doki Panic, twins Poki and Piki fought over the book the story takes place in and accidentally ripped out the last page in which Mamu (Wart) was defeated, explaining why World 7 only has two levels when all other worlds have three.
  • Airborne Mook: Albatosses slowly fly through a horizontal line (almost always to the left, but the ones appearing at the start of World 6-2 soar to the right), while the Beezos fly faster (to the point that characters can only stand over them for a brief moment). Pidgits use carpets to fly in an oscillating pattern until they aim at the player's character to harm them (in Super Mario World, they replace Bullet Bills upon completion of the Special World and can fly just fine without a carpet).
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: Cacti are present in all of the desert levels. Thankfully they are harmless platforms for Mario and crew to jump on. The same can't be said for Pokey, an multi-segmented cactus creature that tries to move into the characters to damage them with its spikey body. Unlike their later appearances in the series as a spiny, you can safely jump on their heads and ride them.
  • All Just a Dream: Zig-zagged. The instruction manual implies that Mario first dreams up Subcon, then sees it for real on a picnic with his friends, but the game's ending explicitly shows that he dreamed it all. However, the instruction manual also explicitly says that Wart terrorizes dreams. Then the game's semi-sequel, BS Super Mario USA, implies that the events of the game did happen, just within a dream world.
  • All There in the Manual: The manual gives more detail on the story, and subtly drops Wart's weaknessnote . It also adds a touch of personality and backstory to almost all the enemies, such as Snifits making their bullets out of nightmares, Ninjis being lesser demons who invade the dreams of boys who play Nintendo, Tryclyde being a loner until Wart came in the picture, etc.
  • Always Night: Unlike the rest of the worlds which are in broad daylight, Worlds 2 and 5 are set at night, though the latter has daytime levels in All-Stars and Advance.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Birdo's sex was originally male (according to the instruction manual, "He thinks he is a girl" and would rather be called "birdetta"), but was later described as female and then "indeterminate gender", depending on the source. However, Birdo was also shown to be an entire species on occasion, so it could be that all previous descriptions are correct.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Why does the nightmare-producing machine spit out vegetables in the final battle with Wart? Was there a malfunction? A glitch? Or did it somehow grow sentience and rebel against Wart with his own worst fear?
  • Animated Adaptation: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! adapts elements of both this and Super Mario Bros.
  • Antepiece:
    • The very first screens of the game establish right off the bat that the game mechanics are different from the first game in three visual ways:
      • First, you drop down from a high vertical height down and scroll through several screens, unlike the original game, which only had horizontal scrolling.
      • Second, you find out immediately that you can't hurt enemies by jumping on them, and since a player will be familiar with the run button (which worked as the fireball button in the previous game), they will likely find out right away that you can pick up an enemy when you're moving or running on them, and since a second enemy is nearby, the player may realize they can attack it by throwing the Shyguy they're holding. Naturally, this new discovery may encourage the player to see if they can grab other objects, such as the nearest patch of grass, which gives you a throwable vegetable.
      • Third, moving left to right on the screen will loop you around to the other side, immediately tipping off the player that the Ratchet Scrolling of the original game has been dropped, and alerts the player that the only way to exit the screen is by figuring out how to use the nearby door.
    • The game also visually demonstrates how its Boss Battles work. At the end of the first level, they face their first encounter with the Pink Birdo. There are no items or even enemies to grab in her boss room. After being taught that enemies can be defeated by grabbing and throwing things at them, the player has to figure out how to defeat Birdo without nearby things to throw. They will discover that they can only defeat Birdo by grabbing the eggs she spits at them and throwing them back at her, which showcases the very different and dynamic boss battles the game offers. And each level will gradually increase the complexity of the Birdo fights so the player needs to hone their combat skills: The fight in World 1-2 reduces the space of the battlefield (thus requiring quicker reflexes to grab the eggs), the fight in 2-1 takes place in a perilous area where both end sides have Bottomless Pits, the fight in 2-2 pits you against Red Birdo (who is now red and will shoot both eggs and fireballs, hence why the use of Mushroom Blocks to attack her is advised), the fight in 3-1 has Birdo and a bottomless pit, 4-2 removes the Mushroom Blocks and brings back the pit while also adding slippery ice, 5-1 has Green Birdo (shoots fireballs only) and only one Mushroom Block, etc.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: If a player uses a Warp Zone to reach another world from a level where they had previously collected coins in Subspace, those coins will be carried over to the new world's first level. This allows players to use those coins alongside whichever ones they find afterwards at the end of that level in the Betting Mini-Game, which not only prevents the old coins from going to waste, but also provides a greater number of chances to farm extra lives.
  • Aquatic Mook: Trouters are red fish with large eyes that perform large jumps in waterfalls. By way of Cranium Ride, Mario and his friends can use them as platforms to quickly move to further areas in a level; this is exploited in World 5-1.
  • Art Evolution: Many subtle changes were made to several sprites from the Doki Doki Panic version to improve their quality, along with other visual changes:
    • Objects like Cherries, POW Blocks, the crystal ball, and vegetable tufts in the ground are animated. The tufts in particular were recolored to red to make them stand out more.
    • The slots mini-game has a proper background. The original version was a featureless green screen.
    • The Albatoss enemy was given several more animation frames, making its wing flaps look a lot smoother. The Doki Doki Panic version had only two frames.
    • Mouser's damaged/hurt sprite rapidly shifts left to right. The original did not move when he got hurt.
    • Phanto's face was changed to look more menacing.
    • The Overworld theme was given an additional section so that the song would play longer before looping back.
  • Asteroids Monster: Fryguy. After being hit three times (which would normally indicate the defeat of a boss in most Mario games), it'll be fragmented into four living parts. The battle will only end after none of them remain.
  • Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick: Mario is balanced, Luigi has jump height on his side, Toad has movement speed and lifting power on his side, and Peach is different from all three in that she can hover for a short period of time. They use the same set up in Super Mario 3D World, but lifting power is standardized (and instantaneous) since it's no longer a core game mechanic.
  • Beating A Dead Player: Some of the more aggressive behaving enemies, like the Ostros, Pansers and Pokeys will keep moving into the spot where the player fell off the screen after dying. The Bosses also keep attacking even after you're dead.
  • Betting Mini-Game: The Bonus Chance after completing a level through a Mask Gate and not by warping. In the original game you bet one coin at a time. In Advance, the player can wager multiple coins at once to earn a multiplied amount of lives.
  • Big Bad: Wart. He has conquered the world of dreams and is filling it with monsters created by the dream machine. It's up to Mario and friends to stop him.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Hoopsters are giant labybugs that constantly clamber up and down trees and vines. They're especially prevalent in 5-2 and 6-3, where they impede the quartets' attempts to climb up vines. They're generally harmless when they are below the player, but cause damage when they climb down from above. They move quicker when Mario and friends are nearby, who have to jump to another vine to avoid the Hoopster.
  • Big Fancy Castle: 7-2, the final level. A literal dream factory with two branching pathways, filled with Spikes of Doom and conveyor belts, and four different boss fights, including a final confrontation with Wart.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Certain vases have large insides, including one that has sand, making its innards much taller than its outer size.
  • Big "NO!": In the Advance version: Tryclyde when you hit him the first two times, Wart when you defeat him.
  • Blown Upward by a Blowhole: One screen of World 4-2 features a pod of whales that sporadically spurt water from their blowholes. The player can jump on the tops of these water spouts to reach the other platforms in the area. It also doubles as a Steam Vent Obstacle, because the spouts are apparently so high pressure that if you touch the sides of them, you'll take damage.
  • Bombardier Mook: Albatosses are large birds that carry bombs in their talons, dropping them when they pass above a player.
  • Bookends: At the beginning of Level 3-2, you can see the door to the end of the level right below you. In order to get there, you have to travel all the way across the grassland to the right to get access to the underground tunnels, and go through them back to the left. Along the way, Mario and his friends have to get though some barricades in the tunnels with bombs.
  • Bootstrapped Theme:
    • The Subspace theme is the Super Mario Bros. main overworld theme, minus the recognizable seven-note intro.
    • Also, the title screen theme is a remix of the "underwater" theme from Super Mario Bros. Super Mario All-Stars took this and ran with it, remixing said underwater theme for the title screen of all of their games save Super Mario World, and the Super Mario Advance series continued the tradition for its own games.
  • Boss-Altering Consequence: In the Gameboy Advance version, you can remove Birdo's bow by jumping on top of her and yanking it off. You can even return it to her if you throw it back at her.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: Wart keeps the Dream Machine in his throne room. Which constantly sprouts vegetables. His Weaksauce Weakness? Vegetables.
  • Boss Bonanza: The game has the player facing Birdo (twice, if a certain route is chosen), then a Mask Gate brought to life and finally Wart in the last level.
  • Boss Corridor: The battles against Fryguy and Wart are preceded by a short corridor (though in the latter's case, you have to fight the Mask Gate as well before gaining access to Wart's chamber). The other boss rooms are accessed after either crossing a path filled with enemies, or defeating Birdo (or, as seen in World 5, both).
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The instruction manual of the NES game described Birdo as "[thinking] he's a girl who'd rather be called Birdetta". This line was removed in the instruction manual of the game's rereleases, and other games featuring Birdo simply refer to her as female. Whether this was to acknowledge her gender identity or her sex was outright changed is up to interpretation.
    • During the conversion from Doki Doki Panic, the Big Face item (a ganguro head) was changed to a Koopa shell due to its high resemblance to Blackface.
  • Bubble Gun: This is Wart's weapon of choice. Spitting bubbles that fly outward before falling rapidly. The character has to weave between where they fall to avoid getting struck.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: Mario and crew have to venture inside a pyramid in 2-1 and 2-3.
  • Busman's Holiday: The game starts off with the heroes falling asleep while on a nice outing, only for them to enter the dream world of Subcon, which has been taken over by Wart. The heroes must defeat him to wake up.
  • Canon Immigrant: Being from a different series, everything in the game counts as an immigrant, save for the characters and objects that had their sprites changed. Most of the enemies have also appeared in other games in the series, most notably Pokeys, Bob-Ombs and Shyguys. The exception is Sparks, because they already appeared in a Mario-related game beforehand (Donkey Kong Jr.), being one of the elements from the series that were already in Doki Doki Panic (alongside the Starman powerup and the POW Blocks).note 
  • Cartoon Bomb:
    • Bob-Ombs are a slightly anthropomorphised version, making their debut in this game and having appeared in nearly every game since. Many of them are either generated by cloning vases or dropped from the sky by Albatosses. In this game, they have arms and lack a windup key in their backs, and have a tendency to explode even if they're not provoked. The Bob-Ombs in this game also have a specific brand name in Japanese ("Bob", or the onomatopeia of something exploding), whereas in later games we see the more common breed which, due to being part of the Koopa Troop, are known as Bomu-hei ("Bomb Soldier") in Japanese.
    • The game also has a non-living kind of bomb, which players can pull out of the ground to destroy breakable walls. These bombs are thrown by Mouser, the boss of World 1 and 3. In this game, you pull items out of the ground indicated by a tuft of grass (not limited to vegetables). Many a cartoon bomb is found this way (though some Mouser encounters have no such mercy; you must catch the bombs he's throwing at you and send 'em right back before boom time!). There are some instances of a Bob-Omb being unveiled this way, but its fuse is much shorter than the ones you normally run across, so it's more of a trap; better think fast and throw it away quick!
  • Catchphrase: In the GBA remake, which like the other GBA remakes of the Super Mario Bros. series was enhanced with voice acting. For example:
    Mario/Luigi: [when defeated] Oh! Mama Mia!
    Peach: Leave it to me!
    Any character: [when collecting a cherry] Lucky!
    Any character: [when picking up a heart] Thank you!
  • Charged Attack: When the player holds down on the directional pad, Mario (or whichever character the player controls) flashes while preparing for a super jump. This ability is also present in the GBA versions of the original Mario Bros. that come in GBA Mario games.
  • Checkpoint: The game provides a checkpoint every time the player enters a door, reaches a new area after boarding a rocket, or enters a boss room upon entering the Mask Gate's mouth. This excludes entering or exiting a vase, however.
  • Collision Damage: Running into enemies results in your character losing a hexagon/heart, and their reaction determines how much they have left (Shrinking when they have one hit point left). It's even lampshaded with the game's Stop Watch item, which freezes all the action when you pick it up. Yes, you take damage from enemies, even when they're not even moving.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The groups of enemies in Subcon come in many different colours, some more threatening than others.
    • Shyguys: Similar to the Koopa Troopas from the first game. Pink Shyguys patrol back-and-forth on the same platform, while red Shyguys walk off ledges and will turn in the direction of the player upon landing, making them particularly troublesome in the sand-digging segments. The All-Stars and Advance remakes of the game change the pink Shyguys to blue.
    • Snifits: Like their Shyguy relatives, pink Snifits patrol platforms and the red Snifit (yes, the red one) will walk off platforms. Gray and green Snifits will stay in one spot and jump up and down, continually shooting bullets. The All-Stars and Advance remakes change pink Snifits to blue, and green Snifits to gray.
    • Beezos: Red Beezos swoop down from the top of the screen, while gray and green ones fly in head-on swarms. The remakes change red Beezos to gold, while gray and green ones become red.
    • Pansers: Gray and green Pansers (or just green in the remakes) sit in one spot and shoot fireballs straight up, red Pansers sit in one spot and shoot fireballs in an arc to the left or right depending on where the player is, and pink Pansers (blue in the remakes) move around and chase the player while shooting fire in an arc.
    • Birdos: Pink Birdos shoot one egg at a time. Red Birdos shoot a few projectiles in a row, most of them eggs, but with some fireballs mixed in. Gray and green Birdos (or just green in the remakes) shoot a few fireballs in a row, requiring the use of Mushroom Blocks to defeat them.
  • Competitive Balance: All of the characters have different jump strengths, pickup animation speeds, and running speed while holding an item (without holding an item, all of them run at the same speed).
  • Continuing is Painful: Getting a Game Over sends you all the way back to the start of the world you're in. It's steadily alleviated between the different versions. In the original, you can only continue twice before the game kicks you all the way back to the beginning. In All-Stars, you have infinite continues, but keeps the "Restart the World" penalty. Completely averted in Advance, where you have infinite continues and you can start back on the stage where you got the Game Over.
  • Cosmetic Award: In Advance, there are changes to the title screen when you beat the game, collect all the red Ace Coins, and clear Yoshi's Challenge.
  • Cranium Ride: Since this is the one game in the series that lacks the Goomba Stomp, you can do this on most of the Mooks. Several areas require you to do this. note 
  • Cutting the Knot: It's very easy to short circuit the fight against Wart. Just grab a vegetable, then jump behind Wart to get behind him, then throw it when he opens his mouth. Rinse and repeat. It's much easier to do with Luigi or Peach of course.
  • Death by Gluttony: The way the player defeats Wart by stuffing him with vegetables.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In sharp contrast to the original and All-Stars versions, lives are complete non-issue in Advance. Even if you do get a Game Over, you can continue from the very same level you left off at.
  • Death Throws: It just wouldn't be a Mario game without it! The bosses do this too.
  • Degraded Boss: The pink Birdo becomes a standard enemy in World 4-3. Its real purpose is to shoot eggs to let Mario and crew ride across a stretch of water they can't cross on their own, also rendering it a Helpful Mook.
  • Developer's Foresight: The entrance door to Subcon in 1-1 is impossible for the player to re-enter, but even if you should choose to manipulate the game's code via glitches or a Game Genie to gain access, it won't crash the game (or take you to a Minus World), and the player simply emerges out the door again.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Toad's a crappy jumper in a Platform Game. That said, his Super-Strength and Super-Speed made him a favorite for speedrunners.
    • Peach is the slowest runner and her pickup speed is also the lowest, which can make things hairy in situations where enemies are swarming, the bomb-block wall puzzles (In 3-2 and 6-3) and during boss fights, where her delay can potentially cost you a hit point. However, her floating ability more than makes up for it, and she has other quirks like invincibility frames during her pluck animation. Making her a favorite among beginners and veterans.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: Quite a few, and they change thematically according to the current world's setting (grassy green in World 1, 3 and 5; arid red in 2 and 6; snowy white in 4; and white with a mushroom-like cap like those seen in Super Mario Bros. and The Lost Levels in 7. Surprisingly, sand is an example, too.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: This is the first game to depict Luigi as taller and thinner than Mario and the first to depict Luigi fluttering his legs while jumping; however, the first game to feature Luigi jumping higher than Mario was the other Super Mario Bros. 2, and Luigi was given a different physical appearance in The Great Mission to Save Princess Peach!.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In the ending, after the Subcons are released, their immediate first action is to crowd-surf a bruised Wart off while the heroes are being heralded and then (implied by the symbols to the right side of the screen shortly after he disappears off-screen) give him an off-screen No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The game actually started life as a Mario-style tech demo that couldn't get off the ground, until Fuji TV asked Nintendo for a game with Yume Kōjō characters in it, reviving interest in the project but separating it from its Mario-inspired roots. After the real Super Mario Bros. 2 was rejected for international release, Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic got re-adapted into a Super Mario Bros. 2 for western players.
  • Dream Land: Subcon may or may not really exist. According to BS Super Mario USA, it does.
  • Dungeon Bypass: The majority of Stage 4-3 has you climbing up one giant tower, crossing over to another, then climbing back down. If you happen to know this in advance and are playing as Luigi or Peach, you can easily jump the gap from the base of one tower to the other, thereby skipping 90% of the stage in seconds.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The game marked the debut of several enemies that would become regulars in the Mario series, but some of them are portrayed here differently. For example, the two red dots on the Ninji sprites are depicted in both the game's official artwork and The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! as red fangs, but later Ninji portrayals reinterpret those dots as big buttons or cheek-blushes. Bob-Ombs have arms and lack the familiar windup keys from their backs (from Super Mario Bros. 3 onwards, it's the other way around, with some exceptions). Pokeys are colored green instead of yellow, and can be mounted safely (in Super Mario World, the only way to ride them safely is with the Spin Jump). Lastly, Shyguys have a slightly shorter height, looking more like Waddling Heads; later games made their torsos look more visible.
    • This game is the first in the series to have worlds themed around different biomes, including a more visually specific Green Hill Zone (though Nintendo's original plan was to hold over this novelty until Super Mario Bros. 3, given the relatively homogeneous design of the worlds in the original game and The Lost Levels). However, one of these worlds, the one set in the cloudy sky, stands out for being the last (most later games opt to end with a Mordor or Lethal Lava Land world, though the sky setting would be kept as the seventh in almost all New Super Mario Bros. games, in a nod to this one).
    • Both the English manual and the end credits refer to Birdo as "Ostro", and vice versa. The Nintendo Power guide, released at the same time as the game, does use the name "Birdo" for the pink egg-spitting character, so the manual and credits were likely a mistake. Oddly, the All-Stars version still mistakenly calls Birdo "Ostro" in the credits, though its manual does get it right. Additionally, all contemporary materials, including the manual, refer to Birdo exclusively with male pronouns.
    • Though Birdo's artwork already depicted her with a red ribbon on top of her head, the ribbon is absent in her in-game sprite, likely due to technical limitations (this was later rectified in Super Mario All-Stars, which was released on the more powerful SNES). Also, as shown in the Japanese commercial of All-Stars itself, Birdo was originally paired with Wart, while in later Mario games she's paired with Yoshi instead (making more sense since both are dinosaurs).
    • Among the games in the Super Mario Advance line of remakes, the first game only had two title screens (one for the overall game, and another for the Mario Bros. side-game). The later games would include an additional title screen for the main campaign of the given installment.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: In this game, Birdo opens her snout only when firing an egg. In all future appearances, Birdo's snout is open at all times.
  • Easter Egg: Landing a Cherry-7-7 in the Bonus Chance gives the player three extra coins alongside a 1-up. This "3 Coin Service" occurs once per play session. This only happens in All-Stars and Advance.
  • Edible Ammunition: Assorted vegetables and sprouts can be uprooted and thrown at enemies. Pull enough of the full-grown ones, and you get a stopwatch that freezes all enemies for a few seconds. The only way to beat Wart at the end of World 7 is by pelting him with vegetables.
  • End-Game Results Screen: The game's ending shows the number of levels cleared by each of the playable character. There are 20 levels in total, though it's possible to clear the game with fewer by using Warp Zones.
  • Enemy Roll Call: The credits do this. Interestingly, the names "Birdo" and "Ostro" are switched around (this was fixed in all versions of Super Mario Advance, though).
  • Eternal Engine: The castles in Worlds 1-3, 3-3, and 4-3 give off this vibe, especially in All-Stars and Advance where they seemingly take place inside of factory warehouses.
  • Every Proper Lady Should Curtsy: Peach does this in official artwork.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Anything that moves in Subcon is not your friend. Aside from Wart's goons, there's homicidal cactus creatures in the desert, fireball-spewing flowers, and surly porcupines. Even the passive, non-threatening whales in World 4 can hurt Mario and company if they run into a jet of water spraying up from a blowhole. (They can stand on a blowhole and be propelled safely upward, though.)
  • Evil Living Flames: Fryguy, the flaming entity that serves as the boss of World 4. It attacks Mario and company by spewing fireballs from its own body while hovering around the boss room. It doubles as an Asteroids Monster as, after receiving three hits, it splits into four smaller (but still sentient) flames that have to be defeated as well for true victory in the battle.
  • Evolving Title Screen: In Advance, a red sky and a Yoshi egg are added to the title screen after Wart has been defeated. Completing the "Yoshi's Challenge" hatches the egg to a full-grown Yoshi. Depending on when all Ace Coins are collected, the egg or Yoshi turn red.
  • Extended Gameplay: In Advance, "Yoshi's Challenge" opens up after beating the game, which challenges the player to locate two Yoshi eggs in Subspace in each stage. The tough part is that you lose your collected eggs when you die.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Wart somehow doesn't notice that the Dream Machine is tossing out vegetables everywhere, even though it's right in front of him. Either he's both blind and anosmic, or is just Too Dumb to Live.
  • Fake Ultimate Mook: The giant Shy Guys and Ninjis in the Advance version don't pose any more of a threat than their normal-sized versions, and in fact are helpful since picking one up spawns a heart item each time.
  • Falling into the Plot: In the opening scene that starts the first level, the player's chosen character falls from a door in the sky. This is the door Mario and his friends entered during the story's prologue, taking them to the Dream Land of Subcon.
  • Fast Tunneling: Mario and his friends have to dig through sand in order to reach the bottom of a pyramid's underground chamber in two levels (2-1 and 2-3), the bottom of a regular cavern in another (2-2), and the bottom of a sand-filled vase in yet another (6-1). Toad is the fastest at digging, so these levels are best played as him.
  • Flash of Pain: Bosses when damaged. The sound effect is sligthly different from Doki Doki Panic, due to the more primitive sound chip of the NES compared to that of the Famicon Disk System. The flash rapidly varies through shades of white, green and pink.
  • Flip-Screen Scrolling: In the vertical areas, as back then the NES was unable to provide a fluid vertical transition (Super Mario Bros. 3 made it possible with its enhanced chip).
  • Floating Mask: Phantos. They gain life when you attempt to take a key and carry it to open a locked door.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Level 5-3, the initial outside at the beginning of the level has three distinctively large trees in the background as you run by. Would you guess those trees actually have some measure of importance later and are not actually background objects? Well, they do.
    • Those Hawk masks look kind of disgusted about having to open for you, don't they? One of them eventually does something about it.
  • Franchise Codifier: Despite not being originally planned as a Mario game, it features elements that have since become customary in the series: themed worlds other than grasslands, minibosses, the ability to carry objects and enemies, vertical level designs, and gambling minigames between levels to earn lives.
  • Game Mod: There's a mod of the game in 2021 called The Beatles Adventures in Pepperland, which is based loosely on the 1968 Beatles film Yellow Submarine.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The bullet-spitting Snifits. They are best known for using their masks to spit projectiles. It wasn't until Paper Mario: Sticker Star, more than two decades later, that their masks were used for toxic purposes.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Clawgrip, the boss of World 5. It throws large, heavy rocks at Mario and his friends, who have to carefully grab the rocks from above and throw them back at it (their weight means that trying to grab them from below only results in taking damage).
  • Giant Mook: In Advance, you can find giant Shyguys and Ninjis. Picking one up will cause them to drop a heart, effectively turning them into infinite sources of Hit Points.
  • Gimmick Level: World 6-2 is based on a bird-mounting ride (the otherwise aggressive Albatosses are simply flying in migration form, and have no Bob-Ombs to attack anyone with), instead of the usual platforming.
  • Glacier Waif: Toad, who is an interesting case. Toad has the best lifting strength, meaning he pulls up vegetables and sand extremely quickly, almost instantaneously, and he is the fastest of the four heroes...only on land, however. His jumping ability is the worst of the lot, however, so vertical adventuring slows down a lot with him as he will need to do more power jumps than the rest of the cast in order to make his way around.
  • The Goomba: Shyguys, though the Tweeters are just as weak and nonthreatening.
  • Green Hill Zone: The game has three of them in the first, third, and fifth worlds. It's played more straight with the first world as you may expect, but the third and especially the fifth world are much more challenging.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Throwing enemies at other enemies is the main method of attack, along with throwing vegetables (and keys, and bombs, and almost everything else you can get your hands on) at them.
  • Guide Dang It!: While official materials indicate Toad is the fastest, they do not indicate that Toad can't get his full speed unless he's carrying something.
  • Hearts Are Health: In All-Stars and Advance. In the original, your hit points are hexagons instead. In all versions, though, grabbing a small heart restores one hit point.
  • Heart Container: Grab mushrooms in Subspace to increase your hit points. The health extension isn't permanent though; it resets when you enter a new stage.
  • Helpful Mook: Two of them, both of the accidentally assisting type.
    • Trouters aren't actively dangerous and just jump out of the water repeatedly. Thanks to the Cranium Ride, they make very useful platforms to jump on to cross long pits. They still inflict Collision Damage however, and riding one back into the water kills you.
    • The pink Birdo in World 4-3. The eggs it spits can still hurt Mario and co., but need to be ridden over a large bottomless pit to Fryguy's fortress. You may be tempted to clobber it, but that does no good since you can't complete the level without its help.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: The player characters have life energy, but in order to connect the game to the rest of the series, they shrink when they only have one hit point left. But this does not actually reduce the hitbox. Thought yourself clever by trying to duck under Birdo's attacks while small? Think again.
  • Ice Palace: The last level of World 4 has not one, but two tall towers full of ice. The first has to be climbed upward while avoiding the incoming Flurries, while the latter is accessed for the descent and requires some Cranium Ride due to the abundance of Spikes of Doom. There's a third building shortly afterwards, but its only content is the entrance to the world's boss (Fryguy).
  • Iconic Sequel Character: This game marks the introduction of Birdo, who would go on to appear in many Mario spin-offs and become Yoshi's partner in them. Also, by way of Canon Immigrant, many enemies that are now mainstays in the franchise were born in this installment.
  • I Fell for Hours: The very first part of the game has you falling from a door in the sky onto a hill in Subcon. Later, in World 3-1, you can access a secret cave by falling several screens onto the bottom of the very tall waterfall (this cave has several vegetables which can be collected as coins in Subspace, plus a Warp Zone to World 5). Lastly, in World 5-2, you eventually climb up a rocky area only to fall from the other side (and due to the spikes present, quick reflexes are required to avoid taking damage).
  • Improvised Weapon: The main gameplay gimmick of the game. Mario and his friends venture into a strange dream world where the traditional Mario Goomba Stomp doesn't work, and there aren't any power-ups to be found. So players have to defend themselves from enemies by using anything they can grab as a throwable weapon. Vegetables, POW Blocks, Bombs, and even other enemies can be picked up and used as projectiles. Boss battles often require using the boss' own ammunition and throwing it back to damage them.
  • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: World 7-2, the final level, has conveyor belts almost as its entire gimmick. Both boss fights against Birdo in the level are also over conveyor belts. Naturally, the conveyor belts increase the difficulty of maneuvering and dodging enemies and obstacles. Also, enemies are not affected by them, though those which don't turn back upon reaching the belts' ledges will drop onto a bed of spikes.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The Starman appears after grabbing five cherries, which lets the player speed up the process of eliminating enemies to grab small hearts and restore a part of their Life Meter.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: Phanto, who begins chasing you as soon as you pick up a key. However, he stops chasing you once you put the key down. He'll start chasing you again when you pick it up, so it's mostly a game of either out-running him or drop-and-pick cycles. There's a glitch that allows you to kill it, but it's difficult to pull off.
  • Irony: Fryguy, a living flame entity, is the boss of an ice world.
  • Journey to the Sky: The last level of World 6 has Mario and his friends climb a series of tall beanstalks that take them well above the usual Shifting Sand Land of that world, and reach a pyramid in the sky where the boss (Tryclyde) awaits. This part of the game is not only important for the conclusion of the world, but also because it leads to the next world, set in the cloudy sky, as it's there where Big Bad Wart lies.
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • World 7-2 has a Mask Gate attack you when you pick up the crystal ball. Three whacks with the mushroom blocks will neutralize it and allow you to proceed afterwards but if you take too long, you'll have to repeat the battle.
    • Fryguy in World 4-3 splits up into smaller fireballs after you hit him a few times, which can catch first-time players off guard after being used to bosses being defeated after a few hits.
    • Unlike most defeated bosses, the final boss Wart doesn't lose his hitbox and can still damage careless players should they touch him during his "defeat" animation. Better hope you're not down to your last hit point, or you'll lose a life and have to repeat the battle. Super Mario Advance does away with this trap.
  • King Mook:
    • Tryclyde is a much bigger cobrat with three heads who spits flame rather than rocks.
    • Clawgrip is revealed in the Advance version to be a Sidestepper (the crustacean enemy from the arcade Mario Bros.) that grows in size and strength thanks to the power of Wart's bubbles. This version also introduces Robirdo, a Mechanical Monster modeled after Birdo.
  • Knockback: A unique example in the Mario series. How your character reacts to taking a hit depends on how many hit points he or she has. Four or three hit points, they get knockback. Only two hit points, they just shrink, with no knockback.
  • Level in the Clouds: World 7, as well as the last parts of Worlds 5-3 and 6-3. In them, there are enemies that can attack Mario and company from their positions, which makes jumping between clouds more difficult than usual.
  • Life Meter: One of the earliest uses of one in a Mario game. The meter initially starts at 2 units, but it can be extended up to 4 (or 5 in Advance) units. The extended health doesn't carry over to the next stage.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": Several of the enemies, including Mouser the mouse, Ostro the ostrich, Porcupo the porcupine, and Clawgrip the crab (after its claws). Some sources also suggest that Birdo is a type of bird (despite her feather-less, reptilian appearance).
  • Locked Door: This is the first Mario game to implement doors, including locked ones and the keys that open them. The majority of the locked doors are in the dungeon levels (the ones housing the worlds' bosses). They can be opened by taking the keys to them, but during the process, Phanto will continuously chase the characters.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The subspace music is a short version of the ground level theme from Super Mario Bros.. Because the timer in subspace is extremely short, you won't get to hear the whole song unless you exploit a glitch that lets the song continue playing after you leave subspace.
  • Lord British Postulate: Phanto, the mask that pursued you when you collected a key, can be killed. You have to get four cherries, pick four large vegetables, pick the fifth to get a clock to stop time, get another cherry to get an Invincibility Star, and while you're invincible, slam Phanto. You're out of luck in Super Mario Maker 2, because Phanto is truly invincible there.
  • Lucky Seven: In the All-Stars and Advance versions, getting all 7's on the bonus reels nets you ten One Ups.
  • Magic Carpet: Pidgits sit on black-colored flying carpets, which Mario and his friends can steal to traverse Bottomless Pits and reach high areas.
  • Marathon Level:
    • The last level of World 3 is one of the longest, most labyrinthine in the game (the final level is just as large, but it's justified for being indeed the last). Usually, a castle level is about to end after the player opens the locked door with a key guarded by Phanto. But here, opening that door only means 50% of the level is completed — the player's character still has to tackle three tall areas filled to the brim with enemies just to reach the castle's roof; only by that point will the game's boss music start hearing, signaling that the world's boss (Mouser in the original NES version and All-Stars remake, Robirdo in the Super Mario Advance Updated Re-release for the GBA) is about to be found.
    • The last level of World 5 is a more straightforward example. It has no alternate paths or even a Phanto chase like in 3-3. 5-3 is just simply long with wide screens filled with enemies, a long underground section which takes the player's character into a vertical climb inside of a tree that is also filled with enemies. They're still not done yet, because there's another long section where the player has to hitch rides on magic carpets across the trees to a cloudy area with enemies, concluding with another fight with Red Birdo and Clawgrip.
    • 7-2, fittingly for the final stage, takes place within a massive castle labyrinth filled with conveyor belts, Spikes of Doom, and enemies everywhere. Its the only stage in the game that has two branching pathways, both of which are required if you want to get both Heart Container Mushrooms. The level also has a Phanto chase, and four different boss battles, one of which includes the Final Boss Wart.
  • Market-Based Title: Because Super Mario Bros. 2 is actually a completely different game in Japan (Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels), this one is called Super Mario USA over there.
  • Meaningful Name: Subcon, a land in Mario's subconscious.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The game introduces two mechanical enemies: Bob-Ombs (round, sentient bombs that explode after a few seconds) and Autobombs (cart-like vehicles that can shoot fireballs whenever Shy Guys ride them); in subsequent games, Bob-Ombs no longer have arms but do have a windup key in their backs (though some Bob-Ombs with arms can be seen in Paper Mario 64). Robirdo, who appears in the Advance version, is large enough to be a Mechanical Monster and the boss of World 3.
  • Mechanical Monster: Robirdo in Advance. A huge, robotic version of Birdo that spits giant eggs, creates earthquakes by jumping, and tries to run Mario and friends over by charging at them.
  • Mercy Invincibility: What happens every time you get hit, along with knockback. However, the invincibility frames still tick down as the screen scrolls vertically, which means it can run out during scrolling and you can get blindsided without any way to recover.
  • Mini-Boss: The game set the tradition in itself and subsequent 2D Mario games to have a miniboss that is frequently fought over the course of the adventure, so they also qualify as Recurring Bosses. Birdo fits the role here, appearing in almost every level and in up to three variations: The pink version (who shoots one egg at a time), the green and gray versions (who shoot two-to-three fireballs at once), and the red version (who alternates between both types of projectiles). The eggs can be thrown back at them, but since the fireballs obviously can't you have to attack the green/gray variant by throwing Mushroom Blocks instead. The game has an additional miniboss appearing in the final level, right before the battle against the Final Boss Wart: The previously-harmless Mask Gate, who has to be hit three times with Mushroom Blocks as it tries to attack you so its mouth opens and you can enter.
  • Mook Maker: Certain vases throughout the game spit out a constant and endless stream of Shyguys or Bob-Ombs. Placing a Mushroom block on top of the vase stops the stream, or it can be destroyed with an explosion.
  • Mooks, but no Bosses: World 4-1 is unique in the aspect that Birdo does not appear at all. Instead, Mario and friends have to get past a brief obstacle course while avoiding Shyguys riding Autobombs and Flurries. The crystal ball is waiting out in the open for them at the very end.
  • Musical Spoiler: When it's not otherwise obvious, the change to the boss theme can let the player know that a boss is coming up.
  • Mythology Gag: The end credits play the title screen music from Doki Doki Panic
  • Nightmare Face: Phantos, in contrast to their counterparts from Doki Doki Panic.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Phanto is a masked specter that is usually immobile and looks harmless, but is actually guarding a key. When a character grabs the key, Phanto reacts and starts chasing the character until they release the key. Chase will resume if the key is grabbed once again, but will stop appearing for good once the key is used to open a Locked Door. They also qualify as Invincible Minor Minions and Invincible Boogeymen because, without an obscure glitch, it's impossible to kill them.
  • Ninja Prop: Toward the end of the game, the Mask Gate which serves as your exit gate will animate and attack you.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • Despite their name, Porcupos are actually hedgehogs.
    • Despite his name, Wart is a frog, and only toads have warts.
  • Novelization: The game received an official Choose Your Own Adventure-styled gamebook in 2001 to correspond with the Advance version.
  • Oddball in the Series: One of the first video game examples, due to its departures from its predecessors and eventual successors. Despite this, many of the features that originate in Doki Doki Panic would become assimilated into later Mario titles: this game is the first to feature the standard stats for the main cast (like Luigi's low traction and Peach's float), it's the first game to feature the nigh-ubiquitous grabbing and throwing mechanics, and a number of Doki Doki Panic enemies (such as Birdo, Shy Guys, Ninji, Pokeys, and Bob-Ombs) would become staples of the Mario franchise later on.
  • Palette Swap: There are actually two colors of Shy Guy, although the two colors are closer. The difference is exactly the same: Shy Guys in pink turn around when they hit edges; Shy Guys in red walk right off. The three kinds of Birdo have more strikingly different colors, and they indicate what they spit: eggs only, fireballs only, or both. Snifits come in even more colors with a wider variety of behavior, from walking off of cliffs to turning back to spontaneously changing directions to jumping and firing more rapidly. Also, the flicker of damaged enemies or things about to explode changes based on what character you're using. This is because all sprites on an NES screennote  can only make use of one of four sets of three colours (chosen from a palette of 53). In most games, the player character gets one of these sets, and in SMB2, each player character uses a unique colour set. But since you don't want enemies changing colour based on which character you're playing, that only leaves 3 sets left for every single other sprite, which includes vegetables and anything else that has to move around the screen.note  You can't change the colour scheme assigned to the enemy without changing all other enemies and whatnots using that colour choice, but you can switch that particular enemy's sprite to one of the other colour sets, and the player character's colour set is about the only one that's at all predictable.note 
  • Parachute Petticoat: Peach, enabling long jumps.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Toad is a rather short guy, but he's the fastest at picking things up and doesn't lose any running speed or jump height while carrying them. The trade-off is that he's the worst jumper of the four.
  • Pipe Maze: World 6-1. At first it plays like a traditional Shifting Sand Land level, but then you enter the underground area housing 21 jars (them being the game's equivalent of pipes); almost all of them can be entered, but only one has the key that leads to the end. Among them is also one jar leading to an extra life, so it's not all bad.
  • Plant Mooks:
    • Pokey, a sentient xerophyte creature made of round cacti sections; hitting its lower pieces will reduce the enemy's size but keep it alive, while hitting the head will kill it instantly. In this game, it's colored green and can be stepped onto its head; in later games, it is colored yellow or orange and is no longer safe to attempt Cranium Ride on it. Both types are featured in Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Color Splash.
    • Panser is a lotus-shaped plant that shoots fireballs (bigger than those of Piranha Plants) upward. The gray and green ones simply aim skyward, the red ones lean their shots at the side closest to the player, and pink ones move sideways and intend to hit the player. A successor species (the Volcano Lotus) appears later in Super Mario World, shooting smaller fireballs but releasing up to four of them at the same time.
  • Playing with Fire:
    • Among bosses, Birdo shoots fireballs when colored red, green or gray, though the red version also shoots eggs. Tryclyde spits fireballs en masse, being a three-headed serpent. Fryguy simply drops them off his body, being a monster made of fire.
    • Among enemies, Pansers spit the fireballs upward (how they do so depend on their color: Green ones simply shoot them up while being stationary, red ones aim at wherever Mario and his friends are, and gray ones aim at them while moving). A subspecies of Panser known as Volcano Lotus appears later in Super Mario World, shooting multiple small fireballs upward at the same time. Lastly, Shy Guys shoot fireballs when riding an Autobomb.
  • Point of No Continues: Your game will be over with no more possibility to continue if you lose all your lives after continuing twice in the original NES version! Averted in the All-Stars and Advance remakes, which offer infinite continues.
  • Poison Mushroom: Some grass patches in Subcon are booby-trapped and contain Bob-Ombs. These Bob-Ombs have a short fuse and will blow up in your face if you don't throw it away on time.
  • Power Up Mount: A rare enemy example and actually pre-dating the former trope namer by a few years. Ostros are fast-moving ostriches. They are first seen ridden by Shyguys to give them extra speed in an attempt to run down Mario and crew. Dislodging the Shyguy pilot causes the Ostros to run off on their own, or players can jump on them to use them as transportation themselves. There is also the Autobomb, a motorized vehicle also ridden by Shy Guys that fire projectiles at the player.
  • Press X to Die: The suicide code for use in Unwinnable situations, such as the Fryguy glitch where the exit door fails to spawn.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: The debut of Peach's pink dress in an actual game (she's always had a pink dress in official artwork).
  • Pre-Final Boss: After collecting the orb to open the hawk head that leads to the final boss... it starts flashing and becomes hostile, flying around the room in an attempt to ram you.
  • Proj-egg-tile: Birdo's only form of attack (at least until you meet the fireball-spitting variants). Picking up the eggs in mid-air and throwing them back at Birdo is also how you defeat her.
  • Promoted to Playable: Peach and Toad, NPCs in Super Mario Bros. and The Lost Levels, are now playable characters.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Desert levels have two types; the first takes about 7-10 seconds to completely suck you in and is quite easy to jump out of, the second (sand waterfalls) takes half as long as the first to suck you in and requires you to jump much faster to get out of, though fortunately, the first type is typically near it. There's even a shortcut late in the game that involves going in almost to your cranium. If that wasn't enough, later levels deviously place the sand waterfalls around a group of enemies, likely trapping you in a nasty situation where the enemies swarm you while you struggle to jump out.
  • Recurring Boss:
    • Birdo is fought sixteen times through the game (it makes seventeen appearances, but in one of them it's a Helpful Mook). Justified since Birdo is a Mini-Boss, and subsequent 2D Mario games would repeat this trend with Boom Boom, Reznor, and Bowser Jr.
    • Mouser, who appears at the end of Worlds 1 and 3. In Doki Doki Panic, Mouser also appears as the boss of World 5, but was replaced in this instance by Clawgrip for Super Mario Bros. 2.
    • Tryclyde is the boss of World 2 and World 6. In Advance, Tryclyde's second appearance was replaced with the second Mouser appearance, whose place was taken by the new boss Robirdo, leaving Mouser as the only recurring boss.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In the SNES and GBA versions, World 1-3 has a room with not only Phantos, but a giant Phanto in the background. When you take the key, the background Phanto's eyes glow red while the normal ones start to chase you.
  • Regional Bonus: Reskinning aside, Super Mario Bros 2 has a substantial number of improvements over Doki Doki Panic. A run button was added, the sprites are far more polished and detailed, load times were eliminated due to the move to a cartridge, and the requirement to beat the game with every character to unlock the ending was mercifully nixed. The only major downside is that the ability to save the game was removed, replaced with a limited amount of continues.
  • Respawning Enemies: Enemies respawn after leaving screens in the NES and All-Stars versions, which can catch careless players off guard as they can get smacked by an enemy in a place they previously were. Downplayed in Advance, where you have to move to a new room to get enemies to respawn.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Mouser, the giant, bomb-tossing mouse who appears as the boss of World 1 and World 3.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: In the end credits, "Hoopster" is misspelled "Hoopstar", "Tryclyde" is spelled "Tricylde", "Clawgrip" is misspelled "Clawglip", and both "Birdo" and "Ostro" have their names switched around. All of these mistakes are fixed in the localizations of All-Stars and Advance.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: This was the first game in which Peach is a playable character, and she's quite useful.
  • Rule of Three: Each world minus the last concludes after the third level (the last world has only two levels).
  • Schmuck Bait: The Game Grumps illustrate a good example here: sure, you can get all those coins, but if you expect there to be bombs in any of that row of five plants, you're wrong.
  • Scoring Points: Not present until Advance, which added in a scoring system similar to that of other Mario games (in which beating several enemies with the same attack earns progressively more points).
  • Sequence Breaking: Luigi's amazing jumping power sometimes allows for some equally amazing shortcuts. Some of them are very simple and maybe even intentional — such as jumping off the Ninji up to the platform in 1-2, bypassing the locked room — while others require a huge amount of skill to pull off — such as jumping across all of the albatosses and beezos to bypass stage 6-2 entirely, or jumping on the small pillars to bypass the first section in 7-1.
  • She's a Man in Japan: The beginning of the bizarre saga of Birdo, though its appearance in this game is actually an aversion.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The second and sixth worlds, with the former featuring more basic elements (quicksand, desert-dwelling enemies, the need to dig through sand in the dungeons) and the latter focusing on more complex concepts. This also makes the game the first in the Mario series to have a desert-type world.
  • Shock and Awe: Beware of the Sparks, whose spiny status is justified due to them being electrical beings that constantly race around platforms in the towers and castles. In Advance, actually touching the Sparks causes the entire screen to flash briefly to indicate your character being shocked as they take damage.
  • Silent Antagonist: Whereas the bosses get plenty of Trash Talk in the GBA remake, the Hawkmouth guarding Wart's throne room doesn't say anything.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: World 4. In all stages, Mario and company have to walk through very slippy ice platforms, which increases the difficulty of dodging enemies as well as avoiding falling into the cold water.
  • Smart Bomb: The old "POW" power block is back, and now you can carry it around and deploy it at will. This isn't an addition to the game - it was in Doki Doki Panic.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Cobrats lurk in the desert sand and inside vases, hopping out of their hiding places to attack Mario and company when they get close. Tryclyde, one of the major bosses, is a three-headed snake.
  • Snowlems: Flurries are snowy enemies that slide on icy floors, always heading towards the player.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Shyguys and Bob-Ombsnote  are known as "Shy Guys" and "Bob-ombs" in later games, and are rendered as such in the Advance manual; conversely, Fryguy is known as "Fry Guy" in the Advance manual, but the original spelling is still present in the in-game cast roll.
  • Spikes of Doom: A frequent hazard in castles and other areas. Not the insta-kill kind, but bad to touch anyway. In World 4, you have to rely on enemies via Cranium Ride to cross spiky corridors without touching them.
  • The Spiny: Porcupo is the standard spiny, but the game also introduces Sparks as well as Pansers, spiny enemies that shoot. Also, unlike Birdo, trying to jump on any of the other bosses' heads hurts you.
  • Spring Jump: Any character can crouch to "charge up" a super jump. In Luigi's case, it sends him close to the top of the screen.
  • Steam Vent Obstacle: The geysers of water spouted by the Whales in World 4 hurts upon contact. It's still safe to stand on, however.
  • Suddenly-Harmful Harmless Object: At the end of World 7-2, a Mask Gate, which had up until now been your gateway between stages, now comes to life and attacks you.
  • Suddenly Voiced: In Advance (and BS Super Mario USA). Not only do Mario and friends talk, but so do the bosses.
  • Super Drowning Skills: There are no swimming stages in this game unlike its predecessors, and falling into the drink costs a life. It's justified, as the water you run into is in World 4. Not exactly smart swimming in water in an ice world.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Phanto springs to life whenever Mario or his friends grab the key it's guarding, and will relentlessly hunt them down between rooms, and it cannot be stopped unless they drop the key.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: In 7-2, in the final room before Wart, you find the Mask Gate, the Crystal Ball, and two suspiciously placed Mushroom Blocks. Seems like nothing, but you'll realize why they're there soon enough.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Wart's Boss-Arena Idiocy isn't bad enough, he has to keep opening his mouth to spit bubbles on top of it. Take a guess on what his weak spot is.
  • Take Your Time: Unlike the other 2D Mario platformers, there's no time limit here.
  • Tech-Demo Game: Super Mario Advance was a launch title for that system, so it does a lot to show off the capabilities of the Game Boy Advance. Even the game's intro is part of this, as it starts out with a shaded box framing the older Game Boy (Color) resolution that fades away to show the larger screen.
  • Tennis Boss: Birdo spits eggs that you have to jump on and throw back. Mouser and Clawgrip are also defeated by catching their ammunition and throwing it back.
  • This Cannot Be!: Birdo, Mouser, Tryclyde, Robirdo, and Wart when defeated in Advance.
    Mouser: "No Way!"
    Tryclyde: "IM-POSSIBLE!"
    Birdo/Robirdo: "How could you?"
    Wart: NO! Ribbit! NOOOOOO! AHHHHH!!
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: Pluckable bombs are a common item that are found in grass patches and can be used to blow up walls and destroy enemies. Mouser also uses Bombs as his main weapon of choice. Players have to be careful using bombs however, because they cause damage to anything caught in the blast radius (As in, where the "BOMB" graphic appears), including your own character!
  • Throw the Mook at Them: Aside from grabbing vegetables, the characters can also grab enemies and throw them at other enemies and bosses. Tryclyde in particular has a Tweeter that hangs out with him in his room. It poses no threat whatsoever, but it does make a very effective weapon to use against him if you don't want to use Mushroom Blocks.
  • Time Stands Still: The Stop Watch item (after uprooting five ripe vegetables) stops all the action around you. Collision Damage still applies, so be careful.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sure, Wart, fight the Player Character while the malfunctioning/rebellious Dream Machine is tossing out vegetables everywhere when your one weakness is vegetables, and your primary form of attack is to open your mouth to spit bubbles. How, exactly, did you think this would go well for you? Bonus idiot points for the Dream Machine being right in front of you.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The first instance in the series where Peach and Toad are Promoted to Playable and break from their usual NPC or Damsel in Distress roles.
  • Trash Talk: The bosses deliver a one-liner before engaging Mario and co. in combat in Advance.
    Pink Birdo: This is as far as you go! / Well, hello there!
    Red Birdo/Robirdo: I'm gonna finish you off! / You've come a long way!
    Green Birdo: I'm ready for you this time! / You got a lotta nerve!
    Mouser: Here, have some bombs!
    Triclyde: Step right up, if you're ready to get... toasted!
    Fryguy: I'm too hot to touch!
    Clawgrip: Arr, you'll make a tasty treat!
    Wart: I am the great Wart! Ahahaha!
  • Tree Trunk Tour: The last level of World 5 eventually takes Mario and his friends into an underground area that provides access to the interior of a large tree, which is explored similarly to a Tower or Castle. It's overrun by Sparks, Bob-Ombs and Pansers.
  • Tremor Trampoline: Robirdo will jump up and land to create an earthquake that stuns the player character on the ground. So Robirdo can set them up for its follow up attack.
  • Underground Level: Several levels have sections that take Mario and Crew inside caves or underground. All of the levels in World 2 end with the player entering an underground chamber or cavern where they need to dig through layers of sand to reach the bottom. Red Shy Guys however roam the sands where they can walk into the holes left during the dig and move in the direction of the player, potentially harming them. Other examples include Levels 3-2 (an underground maze) and 6-3 (an underground sandy cavern).
  • Unending End Card: The NES version sticks to Mario sleeping in his bed after the Enemy Roll Call ends and the words "The End" are written. The All-Stars remake does allow you to save and quit, though.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • In World 2-2 where you must dig through sand, it's possible to force yourself into a dead-end by digging up every sand block until they're out of your jumping range. Since the game has no timer, you're stuck there. The only way out without resetting the game is to use the suicide code (Up+A+B on the second controller). Advance also adds a vase to the bottom, and entering and exiting it will respawn the sand, making it impossible to trap yourself in the first place.
    • The Birdo fight in 6-1 has a couple mushrooms that can be used against her. However, there's also a corridor that is just big enough for a super-sized character to fit through. If you're supersized and you accidentally throw the mushroom while inside this corridor, you will get stuck under the mushroom, and Birdo will not be able to kill you. This is INCREDIBLY easy to do by mistake, so make sure to go above the platform.
  • Unique Enemy:
    • There's exactly one red Snifit in the entire game. Not counting the ones on the title screen artwork and in the slot machine bonus game.
    • The Advance remake adds the Bouncing blade at the bottom of a jar in Level 5-2. It causes damage and cannot be defeated without a starman. It is seen in this single jar and it never shows up again.
  • Unsound Effect: "BOMB!" Doubles as Accidentally-Correct Writing, since "bomb" comes from Ancient Greek onomatopoeia referring to a booming
  • Updated Re-release: The first in the Super Mario Advance series, making it a quasi-sequel to Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. With all the upgrades from All-Stars, plus a point system, collectible special coins, voice samples, giant enemies and vegetables, improved graphical effects, and Yoshi's Challenge after completing the game. It also came with Mario Bros. and a multiplayer mode!
  • Vanilla Unit: Of the four main characters, Mario and Toad both count, lacking special abilities like Princess Toadstool's floating or Luigi's air kick. Mario has well-rounded stats, while Toad has faster movement and pickups at the expense of a shorter jump.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: World 7-2 starts with the drawbridge to Wart's castle completely open. Though this means World 7 only has two levels instead of three, this one more than makes up for it by being packed by enemies and hazards (including up to four boss fights, and the series' first appearance of conveyor belts), plus being very huge (almost twice as large as a standard level in this game and the majority of games in the series).
  • Video Game Remake: In the Super Mario All-Stars compilation, with graphic and sound upgrades, and a save feature.
  • Warp Zone: There are a few pipes that can warp you ahead a few worlds, but you have to use said pipes in the subspace areas (assuming you threw the potion in the right spots).
  • Weak, but Skilled: Princess Peach is her own unique case. She's outclassed by the other heroes in virtually everything. She lifts objects the slowest, she is the slowest runner (when holding an object), and her jumping is mediocre, with only Toad being worse. However, her unique talent to float for few seconds offers Peach top-tier-control and precision that none of the other characters have, making any platforming and navigating obstacles in the game very easy with her.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: If Wart eats vegetables, he'll eventually croak.
  • Weaponized Offspring: Birdo has this trademark move of shooting eggs from the mouth as projectiles.
  • Wrap Around: A few of the vertical sequences in the game, making it the first case in the main platformer Mario series (the arcade Mario Bros. featured it first for having only one-screen stages).
  • Zerg Rush: Beezos are all about this when attacking Mario and friends. Either coming after them by swooping down from the top of the screen and attacking when they get in range or flying in swarms head-on. When you see a Beezo, chances are he's bringing many friends with it, too.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Super Mario USA, Super Mario Brothers 2, Super Mario Advance


Super Mario Brothers 2 USA

To establish how this game was different from the original Super Mario Brothers, the game begins with the player dropping down. This is pointed out in DidYouKnowGaming.

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Example of:

Main / EstablishingSeriesMoment

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