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Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

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Not to be confused with Super Mario Bros. 2 (Super Mario USA).
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
Mariobros2japanbox.jpg
Japanese cover art
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D4
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Takashi Tezuka[1]
Designer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto[2]
Composer(s) Koji Kondo
Series Super Mario
Platform(s) Famicom Disk System
Release
  • JP: June 3, 1986
Genre(s) Platform, action
Mode(s) Single-player

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is a 1986 side-scrolling, action platformer video game developed and published by Nintendo. An installment in the Super Mario series, it is the first sequel to the 1985 video game Super Mario Bros. The games are similar in style and gameplay apart from a large increase in difficulty. Like the original, Mario or Luigi venture to rescue the Princess from Bowser. Unlike the original, the game has no two-player option and Luigi is differentiated from his twin plumber brother by having less ground friction and higher jump height. The Lost Levels also introduces setbacks like poison mushroom power-ups, counterproductive level warps, and mid-air wind gusts. The game has 32 levels across eight worlds, and five bonus worlds.

The Lost Levels was first released in Japan for the Famicom Disk System as Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japanese: スーパーマリオブラザーズ2?) on June 3, 1986, following the success of its predecessor. It was developed by Nintendo R&D4—the team led by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto—and designed for players who had mastered the original; it additionally uses the same engine as Super Mario Bros. Nintendo of America considered the game too difficult to sell in North America and instead sold a retrofitted version of Japanese game Doki Doki Panic as its Super Mario Bros. 2. The game was not released in North America until its inclusion on the 1993 Super Nintendo Entertainment System compilation Super Mario All-Stars. It was later ported to the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Virtual Console (Wii, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U).

The game is known for its intense difficulty, which contributes to its reputation as a black sheep in the franchise. Reviewers viewed The Lost Levels as an extension of the original release, especially its difficulty progression. Journalists appreciated the game's challenge as spectators of speedruns, and recognized the game as a precursor to the franchise subculture that creates and shares nearly impossible levels. This sequel gave Luigi his first character traits and introduced the poison mushroom item, which would be used throughout the Mario franchise. The Lost Levels was the most popular game on the Disk System, for which it sold about 2.5 million copies. In 2014, IGN ranked the game among the bottom of its top 125 Nintendo games.

Gameplay[edit]

Screenshot of gameplay from the 1986 Japanese release, showing a poison mushroom

The Lost Levels is a side-scrolling, platformer action game similar in style and gameplay to the original 1985 Super Mario Bros., save for an increase in difficulty.[3][4][5][6] As in the original, Mario (or Luigi) venture to rescue the Princess from Bowser.[5] The player jumps between platforms, avoids enemy and inanimate obstacles, finds hidden secrets (such as the warp zone and vertical vines), and collects power-ups like the mushroom (which makes Mario grow), the Fire Flower (which lets Mario throw fireballs), and the Invincibility Star.[3] Unlike the original, there is no two-player mode[7] and the player chooses between the twin plumbers, who are differentiated for the first time, at the title screen. Luigi, designed for skilled players, has less ground friction and higher jump height.[3] Mario is faster.[7]

The game's difficulty picks up from near the end of the original and progressively increases.[3] The Lost Levels introduces irritants including poison mushrooms, level warps that set the player farther back in the game, and wind gusts that redirect the player's course mid-air.[4] The poison mushroom, in particular, works as an anti-mushroom, shrinking or killing the player-character.[8] Some of the game's levels require "split-second" precision[4] and others require the player to jump on invisible blocks.[9] There were also some graphical changes,[6][10] though the soundtrack is identical.[3] After each boss fight, Toad tells Mario that "our princess is in another castle".[4] The main game has 32 levels[2] across eight worlds and five bonus worlds. A hidden World 9 is accessible if the player does not use a warp zone. Bonus worlds A through D are accessible when the player plays through the game eight times, for a total of 52 levels.[3]

Development[edit]

The game's director, designer, and composer pictured together in 2015: Takashi Tezuka, Shigeru Miyamoto, and Koji Kondo

The original Super Mario Bros. was released in North America in October 1985. Within four months, it had sold tens of millions of Nintendo Entertainment System (Famicom in Japan) video game consoles and signaled the end of the 1983 video game crash.[11] Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the Mario franchise, now led Nintendo's R&D4 division, which was working on The Legend of Zelda, and no longer had time to design games completely by himself.[4] Takashi Tezuka, the assistant director of Super Mario Bros., joined Miyamoto to develop a sequel to the game[12][13] with the R&D4 team.[3]

The Lost Levels, originally released in Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2[5] on June 3, 1986, was similar in style to Super Mario Bros. but much more difficult in gameplay; Jon Irwin in his book Super Mario Bros. 2 described it as "nails-from-diamonds hard".[13] Tezuka felt that Japanese players had mastered the original game, and so needed a more challenging game to follow it up. Commercials for The Lost Levels in Japan featured players failing at the game and screaming in frustration at their television.[13] Some of the later levels of the game came from Vs. Super Mario Bros., an arcade port of the original.[4] After Zelda, The Lost Levels was the second release for the Famicom Disk System, an add-on external disk drive with more spacious and less expensive disks than the Famicom cartridges.[4]

When evaluated for release outside of Japan, Nintendo of America considered The Lost Levels too difficult for the North America market and declined its release.[4][14] Howard Phillips, who evaluated games for the president of Nintendo of America, felt that the game was unfairly difficult, even beyond the unofficial moniker of "Nintendo Hard" that the company's other games sometimes garnered.[13] His opinion was that The Lost Levels would not sell well in the American market.[12][13] "Few games were more stymieing", he later recalled of the game. "Not having fun is bad when you're a company selling fun."[13]

Nintendo instead released a retrofitted version of Doki Doki Panic as its Super Mario Bros. 2 outside of Japan.[15] Doki Doki Panic had originally been developed by Miyamoto and Kensuke Tanabe as a modified take on a Super Mario Bros. game before it was released in Japan as a stand-alone game as part of a collaboration with Fuji Television.[16] Miyamoto spent more time on Doki Doki Panic than on The Lost Levels.[4] Doki Doki Panic's characters and artwork were modified to match Super Mario Bros. before being released in America, and the re-skinned release became known as the "big aberration" in the Super Mario series.[4] The American Super Mario Bros. 2 was later released in Japan as Super Mario USA.[15]

Rereleases[edit]

The Lost Levels was the second game released for the Famicom Disk System (attached below the Famicom, as pictured)

Nintendo "cleaned up" parts of the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 and released it in later Super Mario collections as The Lost Levels.[4] It was first released in North America in the 1993 Super Mario All-Stars collection for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.[5] All-Stars was rereleased as a Limited Edition for the Nintendo Wii console in remembrance of Super Mario Bros.'s 25th anniversary in 2010.[15] It was also ported to other platforms.[5] The All-Stars version features updated graphics (including increased visibility for the poison mushroom[7]) and more frequent checkpoints to save player progress.[8]

The Lost Levels is an unlockable bonus in the 1999 Game Boy Color game Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. The game was edited for the handheld device: the visible screen is cropped, features such as the wind and the five bonus worlds are omitted. Challenge modes are added.[17][18] The Lost Levels was rereleased in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance on the third volume of Nintendo's Japan-only Famicom Mini compilation cartridges.[19]

Nintendo's digital Virtual Console platform brought the unedited 1986 Japanese gameplay to North America for the first time.[3][7] The Lost Levels was released for Nintendo's Wii Virtual Console digital platform in Japan on May 1, 2007, in Europe on September 14 (as part of Nintendo's Hanabi Festival[7]), and in North America on October 1. The 3DS version released July 25, 2012,[20] and then simultaneously in North America, Australia, and the United Kingdom on December 27.[3] The Wii U Virtual Console release came to Japan on August 8, 2013, to Europe on January 23, 2014, and to North America on March 13.[20] The Lost Levels were also included in Nintendo classic game compilations including the 2014 NES Remix 2 (Wii U)[21] and Ultimate NES Remix (3DS).[22]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer Wii: 8/10[7]
GameSpot Wii: 6.5/10[8]
IGN 3DS: 8.5/10[3]
Nintendo Life Wii U: 8/10[20]

At the time of its release, The Lost Levels topped Famicom Tsūshin's charts.[13] The game was the most popular game on the Disk System, for which it sold about 2.5 million copies.[2] Retrospective critics viewed The Lost Levels as an expansion of the original,[3][2][6][7] like extra challenge levels tacked on its end.[3] Despite their similarities, the sequel is distinguished by its famous difficulty.[20] 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die summarized the game as both "familiar and mysterious" and "simply rather unfair".[9] The Lost Levels replaced the original's accessible level designs with "insanely tough obstacle courses"[4] as if designed to intentionally frustrate and punish players beginning with its first poison mushroom.[23][20][3]

Retrospective reviewers recommended the game for those who mastered the original, or those who would appreciate painful challenge.[20][7][24] Casual Mario fans, GameZone wrote, would not find much to enjoy.[24] Nintendo Life's reviewer felt that while the original was designed for recklessness, the sequel taught patience, and despite its difficulty, remained both "fiendishly clever" and fun.[20] IGN agreed with Nintendo of America's choice against releasing the harder game in the 1980s,[3] though Eurogamer thought that The Lost Levels was "technically a much better game" than the Doki Doki-based Super Mario Bros. 2.[7]

Three decades after the game's release, Kotaku wrote that speedruns of The Lost Levels were "remarkably fun" to spectate, due to their demanding precision.[14] The 2014 Wii U compilation NES Remix 2 similarly made The Lost Levels more palatable by segmenting it into speedrun challenges.[21] The Lost Levels presaged the fan community that modified Mario games to create nearly impossible levels. IGN said that The Lost Levels has more in common with this subculture than with the Mario series.[3] Indeed, the sequel is remembered as a black sheep in the franchise[9][20] and a reminder of imbalanced gameplay in Nintendo's history.[9]

Luigi received his "first distinctive character traits" in The Lost Levels: less ground friction, and the ability to jump farther.[4] IGN considered this change to be the game's most significant, though the controls remained "cramped" and "crippled" with either character.[3] The game's poison mushroom, with its character-impairing effects, became a staple of the series and featured across Mario franchise games.[33] In 2014, IGN ranked the game among the bottom of its top 125 Nintendo games.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NES Classic Edition Developer Interview". Nintendo. Archived from the original on January 1, 2017. Retrieved November 24, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Super Mario Bros. 2". Atari HQ. May 4, 1999. Archived from the original on March 11, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Thomas, Lucas M. (October 3, 2007). "Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels Review". IGN. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m McLaughlin, Rus (September 13, 2010). "IGN Presents: The History of Super Mario Bros.". IGN. p. 3. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Farokhmanesh, Megan (March 16, 2014). "Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels hits Wii U Virtual Console". Polygon. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c Miller, Skyler. "Super Mario Bros. 2". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Whitehead, Dan (September 15, 2007). "Virtual Console Roundup". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c Provo, Frank (October 5, 2007). "Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on August 24, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c d Donlan, Christian (2010). "Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels". In Mott, Tony. 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. New York: Universe. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7893-2090-2. OCLC 754142901. 
  10. ^ Thomas, Lucas M. (June 1, 2012). "Building to New Super Mario Bros.". IGN. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  11. ^ McLaughlin, Rus (September 13, 2010). "IGN Presents: The History of Super Mario Bros.". IGN. p. 2. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Claiborn, Samuel (June 15, 2012). "This Is Shigeru Miyamoto's Favorite Mario Game". IGN. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Irwin, Jon (October 6, 2014). Super Mario Bros. 2. Los Angeles: Boss Fight Books. pp. 22–29. ISBN 978-1-940535-05-0. 
  14. ^ a b Schreier, Jason (January 7, 2015). "30 Minutes Of Impossibly Precise Mario Speedrunning". Kotaku. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b c Ashcraft, Brian (October 28, 2010). "Super Mario All-Stars Coming To America". Kotaku. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  16. ^ Irwin, Jon (October 6, 2014). Super Mario Bros. 2. Los Angeles: Boss Fight Books. pp. 30–37. ISBN 978-1-940535-05-0. 
  17. ^ van Duyn, Marcel (March 7, 2014). "Super Mario Bros. Deluxe (3DS eShop / Game Boy Color) Review". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  18. ^ Parish, Jeremy (April 17, 2014). "The 25 Greatest Game Boy Games". USgamer. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  19. ^ Harris, Craig (August 13, 2004). "Famicom Mini: Series 3". IGN. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h Hughes, Robert (January 31, 2014). "Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (Wii U eShop / NES) Review". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  21. ^ a b Claiborn, Samuel (April 23, 2014). "NES Remix 2 Review". IGN. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  22. ^ Blake, Vikki (October 16, 2014). "Ultimate NES Remix Coming to 2DS and 3DS November 7". IGN. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  23. ^ a b IGN Nintendo Nostalgia Crew (September 24, 2014). "The Top 125 Nintendo Games of All Time". IGN. p. 1. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  24. ^ a b Sanchez, David (January 2, 2012). "Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels - Does It Hold Up?". GameZone. Retrieved March 26, 2017. 
  25. ^ a b Doolan, Liam (May 28, 2014). "Mario Kart Month: A Brief History Of Mario Kart Item Evolution: Mighty Mushroom". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  26. ^ Gilbert, Henry (May 16, 2014). "Every single Mario Kart item ranked from worst to best (33. Poison Mushroom)". GamesRadar. p. 5. Archived from the original on April 21, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  27. ^ Rorie, Gamespot (January 18, 2006). "Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Walkthrough". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 22, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Top 20 Galactic Moments". GamesRadar. November 12, 2007. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  29. ^ Totilo, Stephen (November 22, 2011). "Super Mario Bros. 2 Was a Tiny, Tiny Influence on Super Mario 3D Land". Kotaku. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  30. ^ Koopman, Daan (October 5, 2016). "Mario Party: Star Rush Review - Review". Nintendo World Report. Archived from the original on March 13, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  31. ^ Splechta, Mike (January 8, 2015). "Puzzle & Dragons expanding to the Mushroom Kingdom". GameZone. Retrieved March 26, 2017. 
  32. ^ Clements, Ryan (October 14, 2012). "NYCC: Doin' Mushrooms in Tekken Tag 2". IGN. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  33. ^ Games that featured the mushroom include Super Mario Kart (1992),[25][26] Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2004),[27] Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (2005),[28] Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 (2007),[25] Super Mario 3D Land (2011),[29] and Mario Party: Star Rush (2016).[30] It also appears in Mario-themed games outside the franchise, such as Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition[31] and the Wii U version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2.[32]

External links[edit]