Thursday, 22 August 2013

Super Mario Bros. 2 - NES - 1988



When a game is successful it comes as no surprise when a sequel appears.  Super Mario Bros. spawned two.  The first Super Mario Bros. 2 utilised the same sprites and tiles as Super Mario Bros. but cranked up the difficulty to 11.  It was released in Japan in 1986 and was deemed too challenging for overseas gamers so that's where it stayed.  The second Super Mario Bros. 2 was launched in the West in 1988.  Gone were the Goombas and Koopas.  Gone was the coin collecting.  Gone was Bowser.  You could no longer dispatch enemies by jumping on their heads.  In fact, Super Mario Bros. 2 didn't feel like a Super Mario Bros. game at all.  That's because it wasn't. 

Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic came out in 1987 for the Famicom Disk System.  It was a platform game with an Arabian theme and featured four protagonists of differing carrying, running and jumping abilities.  Their goal was to save two children who are pulled into a story book by jumping into the book after them.  Imajin is the 'all-rounder' character.  Remove his turban, stick on a silly cap, a moustache and put him in some blue dungarees and, hey presto, you have Mario.  Give the other characters a similar makeover, call the game Super Mario Bros. 2 and you have a guaranteed hit.

 
Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic and Super Mario Bros. 2 are virtually identical


The aim of the game is to free Subcon, the Land of Dreams from an antagonist called Wart.  The game is made up of 7 worlds divided into 20 stages.  At the beginning of each stage you can choose to play one of the four characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.  Mario is the the best all round character.  Luigi is the highest jumper.  Toad has the least jumping power but his speed and jumping power do not decrease when carrying items.  Princess Toadstool is the slowest and doesn't have much jumping power, but can be made to float in the air for a short while.

Your main means of dispatching enemies is by lobbing root vegetables at them.  These can be plucked out of the ground where you can see them above the surface.  Pulling at these plants may reveal special items such as bombs, koopa turtle shells, potions and extra lives. If you happen to land on top of an enemy they can also be picked up and thrown.

When you throw a potion a door appears which leads to the sub space.  You will normally find a mushroom which restores 1 point of health.  Any plants you pull up will reveal coins that are used in an end of level slot machine game.  After a short while you are thrust back into the main world.
 
Picking up a coin in the sub space.


Scattered throughout levels are cherries.  Collect enough of these fruits and Starman will appear and make your character invincible for short while if picked up.  Likewise, killing enough enemies will produce a heart which can be collected to restore some health.

Overall, Super Mario Bros. 2 is a great game that I actually prefer it to its predecessor. So successful was it that it was re-released in Japan as Super Mario USA.  I didn't make it very far into the game - I kept getting stuck at a giant mouse that throws bombs and it will take bit of practice to get past -  but what I did see I really enjoyed.  The graphics and sound are as good as can be expected on the NES and the controls are very tight.  It feels bit weird as some of the Arabian themes from Doki Doki Power remain (such as the magic carpet) but as this game takes place in a different world I suppose this can be forgiven.  The only thing lacking from my point of view is some kind of points system.

This is as far as I could get without more practice.

Example gameplay......



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