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Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

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Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
Super Mario Bros. 2 box art.jpg
The game that brought the idea of "gameplay so hard that it will beat you up until you love it" into reality, 25 years before FromSoftware got it right.
Protagonist(s): Mario
Luigi
Genre(s): Platform
Platform(s): Family Computer Disk System
Release: June 3, 1986
Developer(s): Nintendo R&D4
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Country: Japan
Series: Super Mario
Predecessor: Super Mario Bros.
Successor: JP: Super Mario Bros. 3
WW: Super Mario Bros. 2
"It looks like Mario, plays like Mario, but the level design is not Mario, nothing like it. It's a fucking fan hack that costs money to play, and that's just wrong."
SomecallmeJohnny
"Compared to the Mario we Americans know and love, The Lost Levels feels a lot like a fan-made hack, with platforming challenges that are just a bit too frustrating and don't flow as well as Mario 1, and graphics that seem like a downgrade as well."
Lucas M. Thomas
"As I continued to play, I found that Super Mario Bros. 2 asked me again and again to take a leap of faith, and that each of those leaps resulted in my immediate death. This was not a fun game to play, it was punishment. Undeserved punishment. I put down my controller, astonished that Mr. Miyamoto had chosen to design such a painful game."
Howard Philips
"Well that tops a bunny turd ball in a shit sundae, and you wanna know why that sucks so much? Because when you first hear about this game, you’re just like, “Oh boy, I love the original. So this has to be fun.” And then you start playing it, and after 10 minutes has passed, you realize that it’s basically the same game with frustrating levels, unimproved mechanics, and one new power-up that just kills you. What a slap in the face. So here’s the deal, guys. Don’t trust this game. Don’t emulate it, don’t search for it, don’t mess with it, don’t take it on a date, don’t feed it, don’t clean it, don’t believe it. And, just, j-JUST DON’T PLAY IT!"
Nathaniel Bandy

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (in Japan known as Super Mario Bros. 2: For Super Players) is a platform video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Family Computer Disk System.

The first time this game was released outside of Japan was its remake in Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, where it gained its title Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels in 1993. Then, as part of Super Mario Bros. Deluxe for the Game Boy Color, it was redone and renamed as Super Mario Bros. for Super Players. It was later re-released on the Game Boy Advance on the third volume of Nintendo's Japan-only Famicom Mini compilation cartridges. Eventually, the game came out as a limited-edition Game & Watch game (bundled with Super Mario Bros. and a Mario-themed version of the first G&W title, Ball) to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario series.

Plot

The story of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is identical to the first game and is said to be set in a "parallel world" to it.

One day, the peaceful kingdom where the mushroom people live was invaded by the clan of the huge turtle Bowser, who possesses powerful magic. Said magic turned the harmless mushroom people into rocks, bricks, and plants, and the Mushroom Kingdom fell into ruin. The only one who can break the magic spell and revive the mushroom people is the Princess Peach, but she's now a prisoner of the great sorcerer King Bowser. But Mario has stood up and raised his hand, ready to defeat the members of the turtle clan, rescue Princess Peach, and once again restore peace to the Mushroom Kingdom.

Development

The game came into existence when Shigeru Miyamoto and his crew were working on VS. Super Mario Bros. (an arcade version of the first Super Mario Bros.) and were adjusting the game's difficulty to make it suitable for the arcade's pay-per-play model (e.g. the number of Warp Zones were reduced and infinitive lives exploits were removed). Among the changes made to VS. Super Mario Bros. was replacing some of the Hard Mode Filler stages from the latter half of the game by making the earlier versions of these stages hard from the get-go and replacing the later versions with new stages (that would later be integrated into The Lost Levels itself). Miyamoto decided to create an alternate home version of Super Mario Bros composed entirely of new stages aimed specifically at hardcore fans of the original, resulting in the production of Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Family Computer Disk System. The difficulty spike between this game and its predecessor was insane. In Japan, this had the effect of giving jaded Mario fans a new challenge to overcome (in fact, the game sold well in Japan, it sold 2.5 million units, and was the all-time best-selling on the Family Computer Disk System).

However, when Howard Phillips, Nintendo of America's chief play-tester, and favorite of NoA president Minoru Arakawa, got his hands on the game, he found the experience of playing it to be absolutely punishing, and not at all fun. Based on Phillips' input, Arakawa made the decision not to release it in the United States and Europe. However, Nintendo of America absolutely needed a western Mario sequel in record time, so Nintendo made a reskin of another Nintendo game, Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, and called it Super Mario Bros. 2 (eventually, in Japan the re-dressed game would get released under the title Super Mario USA).

When the original Super Mario Bros. 2 was finally released in North America and Europe as part of the Super Mario All-Stars compilation re-release, it was instead titled Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. Worlds 1-8 were also included as the unlockable "Super Mario Bros.: For Super Players" in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe for Game Boy Color. The original version of The Lost Levels has since been released in future platforms, including a port for the Game Boy Advance in 2004 which once again remained exclusive to Japan.

In fact, it wasn't until 2007, twenty-one years after the game was released, that the original version was made available to Western gamers via the Wii's Virtual Console,and from that point the game hasn't missed the international market ever again, being available on the Virtual Consoles of the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, the NES catalogue of the Nintendo Switch, and as part of the re-release of the first Super Mario Bros. for the Game & Watch for the franchise's 35th anniversary in 2020. For all of these re-releases, the game adopted the name of the All-Stars version in the West, to distinguish it from the international Super Mario Bros. 2 (though the game's title screen still shows the Japanese name).

Gameplay

The game is similar to the first game in style and gameplay, apart from a steep 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 with reduced ground friction and increased jump height. The Lost Levels also introduces setbacks such as poison mushroom power-ups, counterproductive level warps, and mid-air wind gusts. The game has 32 levels across eight worlds as well as 20 bonus levels.

Bad Qualities

NOTE: Some of the flaws in this section do not apply to the All-Stars version or later remakes.

Overall

  1. Addressing the elephant in the room, this sequel sucks out the charm of the original game, going from a fun and memorable game with admirable level design to a sequel that has little fun, with atrocious level design filled with too many enemies and unfair traps, and mediocre replay value, because the difficulty and the level design is not well adjusted for the original physics and controls, making most deaths unfair. There are too many sections with precise jumps that feel uncomfortable, several sections where you have to have a lot of momentum to get to another platform, and sections where you have to precisely jump on trampolines, or you're going to fall into a bottomless pit.
    • Even the idea of the game is bad, as the first game was designed to be simple with easy-to-use controls, but using these simple elements to exaggerate them in difficult, yet mediocre level design with many traps and poorly adjusted controls is not good.
  2. It has gameplay and controls similar to the first game; at first it may sound good, but the game lacks the charm that made the first game good and memorable as stated above, the hard difficulty and other elements like the controls that don't fit totally in the challenging level design clash with the simple gameplay of the first game and makes it feel quite forced, unpleasant and unnatural, especially for players used to the first game.
  3. The game is supposedly a sequel to the first Super Mario Bros, but, except for the gameplay and controls, it does not feel like a sequel as such, it feels more like an official troll ROM-hack by Nintendo or a compilation of levels created by someone in Super Mario Maker, which also makes it feel like an expansion pack for the original game.
  4. Most new features included in this game are badly or terribly implemented because of different problems:
    • The new difficulty is made in a rather mediocre way, with too many sections with exaggerated traps and leaps of faith, plus awkward physics makes the game feel weird to play.
    • The level design doesn't fit with physics and the Mario series, saturated with frustrating sections where you have to have too much precision or you'll have a certain death, the design is so heinous that most of the article will focus on this.
    • New obstacles, such as poisonous mushrooms, air gusts, and more aggressive variants of enemies, air bursts are often needed to cross wide gaps, but make precision jumps more difficult.
    • Luigi's new way of moving is poorly implemented, jumps higher but reduces friction, which is quite slippery and results in many cheap deaths because Luigi does not fit the level design.
    • Green jumping boards that send Mario/Luigi extremely high into the sky, where they are off screen for a little while. These are essential for crossing very wide gaps, especially those of Worlds 7-3 and C-3, however, the off screen time makes it difficult to determine where Mario or Luigi might land.
  5. The Poison Mushrooms are a stupid move. They even had the nerve to put one in the first row of coin blocks that you encounter. The demo player outright drives into one of them to show the poison mushroom's effect. The Super Mushroom, on the other hand, is within brick blocks that a newcomer might not know to hit. Worse yet, it is between solid blocks that prevent it from dropping down to the ground, so the player has to either hit the brick block beneath it to get it over the blocks, or jump up onto the row of brick blocks to get it, the former method might not be known to a newcomer, and the latter is made more difficult by the wall of solid blocks on the left side combined with the inability to go back once the blocks are off the left side of the screen. Also, poisonous mushrooms are a nuisance, scattered widely throughout much of the game, often found within easily reachable bricks or coin blocks, and look similar to 1-up mushrooms, only with a darker shade of green and blue.
  6. The new enemies are just tweaked variants that are much more annoying to deal with, like Red Piranha Plants that come out of pipes even when standing right next to them. The Hammer Bros. are now more aggressive and can chase Mario/Luigi if they are close to them after the World 7. Also, enemies from the overworld appear underwater and vice versa, and yes, this means Lakitu can easily annoy you in underwater stages.
    • And just like the Bloopers and Cheep Cheeps usually found underwater, the overworld enemies can not be stomped on underwater.
  7. While some may appreciate the painful difficulty, many others have felt that it was too difficult and unforgiving. Its insane difficulty makes it very easy to get a Game Over. Besides that, it's too unbalanced, since it goes between difficult to almost impossible, due to the large amount of artificial difficulty. There are also many unfair punishments that make the game more difficult in a dirty and bad way.
    • The 1-up mushrooms are very rare and well hidden, and the placement of the coins makes collecting 100 more difficult.
    • Powerups such as the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Starman are similarly less common and often placed in more difficult to reach areas, which doesn't help when you are Small Mario, and makes the game more punishing than difficult in a dirty way. Many times, they are in invisible blocks that you might not even know are there!
      • There are even instances where getting the powerup isn't really a good idea, as areas such as castle 3-4 require the player to go through a narrow passage with unbreakable blocks above as well as short gaps which are better suited for Small Mario, and the Starman might not be the best option because certain areas require bouncing off enemies to reach higher areas!
    • The continues, while useful, only take you to the first level of a world, so it can be frustrating to pass the levels again due to the difficult gameplay, especially if you've made a lot of progress.
    • The following levels are especially bad, boring and difficult with atrocious level design:
      • Any looping level, especially the castles;
      • Any underwater stages;
      • 7-3;
      • 8-2;
      • 8-4;
      • Any level of Worlds A-D, with World C-3 (The most infamous level of the game) being particularly difficult.
    • In the original Famicom Disk System release, when reaching World 9, you are given only one life, and when all lives are lost, instead of giving an option to continue, you're instead given a final message saying: "YOU'RE A SUPER PLAYER! WE HOPE WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN. MARIO AND STAFF."[1] This is averted in the All-Stars version, as you retain the lives you had upon completing world 8-4, and are still given continues when you lose your final life.
    • Passing this game without dying requires a lot of memorization and getting used to the bad layout, you have continues, yes, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Lost Levels is super frustrating and arbitrary.
  8. Ugly level design ranging from difficult to extremely cruel, saturated with a lot of dirty ways to lose yourself a life like pixel-perfect leaps, blind jumps, and sadistic castle mazes executed in a mediocre and lazy manner, plus the scenarios look more boring, ugly, and weirder compared to the first game, for example:
    • World 1-2 is a level that introduces the invisible blocks in a section with a Buzzy Beetle that if you jump towards that block you can go down and impact with the enemy and lose, there is also a narrow part where you have to grab momentum and crouch or move and crouch (which is awkward), the rest of the level consists of jumping platforms (a section has many pipes piranha plants) which is boring and short.
    • A notable problem in this game is how they overexploit player traps that are impossible to deduce at first glance, such as the invisible blocks that make you bounce off enemies[2], or enemies positioned off-camera, on the subject enemies, their placement is cheap that give several enemies a chance to pop up out of nowhere and ambush you and a nuisance as there are times when the enemies are placed in narrow places or in sections of a platform, there are parts of the level design that require extremely precise jumps, where you bounce off Koopa Paratroopas, and segments of levels that are not self-deducing, such as the parts with impossible jumps where you must seek and activate near unreachable invisible blocks to progress.
    • The enemies themselves are an absolute disappointment, due to how badly designed they are in terms of the very limited actions they actually have. They are repetitive, but also defeating them in some situations is pointless, because you can spend some levels easily dodging enemies if they are very basic, but due to the cheap positioning of traps, too many hordes of enemies appear in most levels, so you have to eliminate all enemies in order to follow the next section safely, plus most enemies are artificially difficult to dodge (especially the Hammer Bros) and are in unexpected places.
    • Worlds 7-3 and C-3 are considered the most lazily designed and difficult levels of the 2D era of Super Mario for several reasons.
      • For starters, these levels are almost identical, the former is just a level where you have to use several springboards to get across long gaps, the latter is the same, only with a Lakitu added to the first half of the level, very lazy for what is supposed to be a level in a bonus world intended to be a prize for passing the game eight times.
      • As mentioned above, the player has to use the green springboards to cross the gaps, and, again, the time offscreen makes it difficult to determine where the player might land. The short length of the platforms and wind blowing don't help matters, either.
      • Important springboards in World C-3 can sometimes fail to spawn, making it impossible to cross the very wide gap to complete the level. This level has a green springboard towards the middle of the level (after the first three Piranha Plants) that you need to cross a very long jump. The player must defeat Lakitu to make sure it appears, as mentioned below.
      • The end of these levels consist of jumping on ridiculously small platforms and fire bars that make it very difficult to finish the level due to Mario's rigid controls and Luigi's slippery way of moving, so if you lose in these sections, you have to repeat the vast majority of the level due to the few checkpoints.
    • Many levels have sections containing pipes (with Piranha Plants) that provide the only solid ground between one bottomless pit to another. In the treetop levels, you'll have to contend with flying Bloopers that not only look out of place but also always seem to be patrolling the spots where you need to initiate a jump or stick a landing.
    • World 2 brings back janky trampoline jumping, only now you’re required to execute jumps with airtight precision in life and death situations. If you don't get enough momentum or if you accidentally fall into bottomless pits you will die.
    • Many of the castles in the game are looping castles, meaning that if you don't know the path, you can run out of time and die as usual.
    • The game is willing to exploit scrolling against the player. In some levels, you realize you have to long jump, but because you can't scroll backwards in the game, you can't build up enough momentum to make the jump and you end up falling to your death. Even worse, some of the jumps require you to move forward to make sure that a Paratroopa is in the right position for you to bounce off it. In a single level, a warp pipe leads into a partially enclosed section backwards into the stage, if you don't have Super/Fire Mario you can't break the ceiling blocks, and the only way to escape is by committing suicide, as the screen scroll doesn't let you exit this section.
    • There are also tedious parts of the levels that make you go through narrow paths, leaving open the possibility of dying due to poor design[3]. This is worse considering the tons of things in the levels that try to kill you like the Hammer Bros and their super aggressive AI after the world 7.
    • There are some sections of trial-and-error where the only way to make progress is to die over and over until you figure out how to beat a certain obstacle reliably, only to then die again on the next obstacle.
    • There are sections where you must time your jumps well or have a lot of momentum in your jumps or jump accurately or both, some are difficult to pass due to a considerable amount of enemies or you really need a lot of precision.
    • World 8-4 is a huge maze that has many tricky jumps and enemies scattered around the level, platforms that are almost unsailing and contain an uncomfortably accurate silverform and even more tricky jumps you have to make to advance the level.
    • The game can suffer from sprite overload, which can affect whether or not certain items or enemies will appear, examples of this include:
      • In the castle levels, there's a possibility that the fire bar will not appear in one of the sections, but after dying and going to the same section again, the fire bar will appear where it's supposed to be.
      • Important springboards in Worlds D-2 and World C-3 can sometimes fail to spawn, making it impossible to cross the very wide gap to complete the level. The former is a red spring that is before a wide gap to the flagpole, and usually won't appear if the last red Koopa Paratroopa (to the right of the high row of brick blocks) is jumped on (which causes it to move to the right, towards the springboard). The latter world has a green springboard towards the middle of the level (after the first three Piranha Plants) that you need to cross a very long jump. If Lakitu is present, this springboard will not appear, thus you can't make the jump. Lakitu must be defeated before reaching this springboard for it to appear.
    • On several occasions, it's pretty boring to wait platforms that are needed to progress the level, it can also be frustrating and repetitive to die over and over again in areas where you have to take perfect jumps or in areas where there are too many enemies that are hard to pass and defeat.
    • Several levels are almost identical, such as 7-3[4], C-3[5] as mentioned above, as well as 7-4[6] and C-4[7], which shows laziness, especially in bonus worlds.
    • Invisible blocks are quite annoying as they are commonly in levels and frustrating, this was only included to make the game more difficult, but it's a lousy and dirty way to lose. Good luck trying to jump past the Hammer Brothers in world 8-3 without hitting invisible blocks and dying on your first few attempts. Oh, and at least one of those blocks contains a Poison Mushroom.
      • Because of the large gap that Mario cannot jump across by himself, World 2-2 is the first level that requires hitting an invisible block to win.
    • World 8-2 has an abrupt dead end, with a pipe that takes you to underground coin room before taking you back to an earlier part of the level. To reach the exit, you need to bounce off of a Paratroopa and hit the Brick Block above it, producing a vine that leads to the Goal Pole in the sky.
  9. Several puzzles and intentionally bad designed parts are poorly designed such as the following:
    • The two castles consisting of mazes where you have to take the right path, the problem is that there is almost no indication that you have gone down the wrong path so you must repeat the process (the firebars disappear when the wrong route is taken, but you'd have to be extremely familiar with the game to know that), so you must do everything right, the slightest mistake will make the game think you are going the wrong way, also in the first castle of its kind, you have to go down the right path which is the highest, the problem is that you can't jump normally because you bump into the bricks above, what you have to do is go down and activate invisible blocks,but the game doesn't give you a clue as to what to do.
    • The final castle consisting of a maze where you must use pipes to go in another direction and if you choose the wrong pipe you can go back and waste a lot of time.
    • In some sections of the levels there are invisible blocks that you must activate on dead roads to keep progressing in the game.
    • World 4-1 there is a section where you have to jump in a spring, the problem is that it's a red spring and it doesn't throw you so far, so you have to grab momentum to jump on the trampoline and get on with the level, but most of the time it ends up losing a life as you have to press B+A and jump on the trampoline even though doing this is difficult and uncomfortable, even the game doesn't give you a clue that you have to press B+A to not die.
    • World C-2 has a grass platform that you have to jump from onto a single block, then another, higher block, from which there is a wide gap to the next grass platform. This gap requires a running jump, but the placement of the blocks makes it difficult to land precisely on each block while at the same time building up enough momentum to cross the wide gap.
  10. The system of lives is a downgrade of the predecessor game and the continuation system leaves much to be desired:
    • Some may find it unnecessary to have to restart the original Super Mario Bros campaign when you get a Game Over, but it does encourage you to continue progressing through the game and improve your performance, as long as the game is fair enough that the levels have several currencies or that you can easily get used to the way of playing and that it is also a short game and that if it is well designed, it makes the life system feel natural.
    • In Super Mario Bros The Lost Levels, due to the change in difficulty, there are now continues that take you to the beginning of a world, this doesn't sound so bad, if it weren't for the fact that the game, compared to its predecessor, doesn't feel fair, with those sections with leaps of faith, areas with too many enemies and the labyrinths where you can spend a lot of time not knowing what to do, in addition, the coins and power ups are not so recurrent and with that you will surely lose several lives, makes the system instead of being a way to progress your gameplay feel more awkward because you can get a Game Over on the last level of a world and reset a whole world of a game with bad difficulty balance or you can losing all your lives in a specific level, this makes trying to complete the game feel slower.
  11. It largely reuses things from the first game, yes, there are new things, but there are not so many, making the game feel like a reskin of the first game. For example:
    • The game updates very few graphics,and some of the new graphics aren't good.
    • It reuses the original game's soundtrack without any new themes at all (if you don't count the enhanced ending music),which can become very repetitive (depending on your point of view), especially the castle song.
    • The game reuses the same types of scenario, adding little variety and most types of scenarios are from the ground, castles, and to a lesser extent, underground levels, which means that there are few water and treetop scenarios.
    • The game reuses the same controls and physics of the first game, which makes it more difficult to jump and normally pass levels, as well as stiffer, stricter and more limited movements due to the terrible level design.
    • Almost no new enemies have been included, and what few new enemies that are included are merely more aggressive palette swaps of existing ones.
  12. The following problems present in the first game are also present in this game.
    • You still can't go backwards and checkpoints are still invisible.
    • The plot hasn't changed at all; Princess Toadstool is captured by Bowser and Mario and Luigi must save her.
    • Touching a Fire Flower as Small Mario/Luigi will just change him into Super Mario/Luigi respectively.
    • If you're Fire Mario/Luigi, getting hit will still change you back into just Small Mario/Luigi respectively.
    • The time still doesn't match up with real-time.
  13. By today's standards this game feels very archaic. Mario's jump is very stiff and running momentum is very high so it can be an issue, on single-block platforms. Also, the graphics feel very primitive.
  14. Although the graphics are still good, some new sprites look bad, the ground sprite is overly rocky and grainy looking, and lacks a distinguishable edge, which doesn't go good at all with the other more simplistic sprites. When you rescue Peach, Bowser's castle lights up into a light blue color. Due to the "black" pixels in the sprites of Peach, the Toads, and the bricks actually being non-existent (giving the illusion that those sprites have black pixels due to the black background), this causes those sprites to look odd when the castle light up. Peach and the Toad's eyes glow a light blue, while the bricks look like they're floating. This can be seen here[8].
  15. The original Super Mario Bros. was generous with the secrets hidden in the levels, giving you access to hidden parts of a level like pipes that led to hidden rewards, or warp pipes that you could access if you were good at the game. The Lost Levels, on the other hand, unfairly penalizes you for wanting to look for secrets. There are parts of the level design that you would believe at first instance that lead you to some secret that is worthwhile in the level, but no, they only lead you to traps that reflect cruel level design, with false rewards of that type, with segments in which you get stuck and there is no choice but to commit suicide as previously mentioned or warp pipes that return you to world 1-1 just for being curious.
  16. There are two Warp Zones that take you backwards. The first one is in World 3-1, which takes you back to World 1, and the second one is in World 8-1, which takes you back to World 5.
    • Speaking of which, in order to unlock World 9, you have to beat the entire game without using Warp Zones. Similarly, to unlock Worlds A-D, you have to beat the game eight times without using Warp Zones (That is sixty-four worlds. That is two hundred and fifty-six levels, it can take more than seven hours just to unlock world A), this artificially extends the game's length through forced repetition,it's too frustrating and repetitive to play the game eight times due to artificial difficulty and because you have to play everything again several times and it gets boring very fast, plus you're forced to unlock these worlds if you want to complete the game,besides that bonus worlds are bad and a few levels are recycled from the other worlds, it's a pathetic excuse for replayability.
    • In many instances of reaching backwards Warp Zones, there's a conveniently-placed pit where you can kill yourself to avoid warping back. If it doesn't, such as the one in 8-1, you can always just wait for the timer to expire.
  17. Worlds A-D are very hard and yet they're supposed to be rewards, it also not worth spending your time experimenting with how the game is artificially stretched just to unlock Worlds 9 and A-D. For example, the insipid level C-3 literally consists of jumping off cliffs with a spring and praying that the wind doesn't kill you so that you land on ridiculously small platforms, and if you didn't take out Lakitu as described earlier, you can't cross one of the gaps since the springboard is missing! Being a long game doesn't make it "good".
    • Also, you don't get any special rewards or even dialogue changes for rescuing Peach in these worlds. Also, didn't Mario and Luigi rescue Peach already?
    • Some may try to argue that this is more of an Easter Egg than an obligation, which is wrong, a good Easter Egg is what Super Mario Maker does with the Nintendo World Championship levels that when you finish all the levels of Challenges 10 Marios you can play them, which is a small addition that is appreciated, especially for those who want to finish a game, instead in Lost Levels to have 100 percent we have to pass the game 8 times to pass the AD Worlds, which in itself it doesn't even feel like an Easter Egg.
  18. If you manage to reach World 9, you are only given one life as previously mentioned, and when you complete World 9-4, you go back to 9-1, and have to basically play the same 4 levels on an endless loop until you lose all your lives!
  19. Very few checkpoints, requiring the repetition of large sections of gameplay on death. This doesn't make the game more difficult, only more punishing because a single mistake could cause the player to lose a large amount of progress. Repeating long periods of gameplay multiple times tends to be frustrating rather than tense. Also, it's particularly frustrating because checkpoints are placed at random and are invisible, luckily this was fixed in Super Mario All-Stars where there are much more checkpoints.
  20. The controls, while still good and functional like the first game, have a few problems related to the level design.
    • As stated above, the controls do not fit completely well with poor level design, the controls are rigid and worse with Luigi, the jumps feel strange to perform and precise platforming is often required, which gives way to many cheap deaths due to sensitive controls.
    • Mario's jump is very stiff and running momentum is very high so it can be an issue on single-block platforms, in some narrow sections, or sections with strange designs.
    • In this game, Luigi's handling differs from Mario's. He can jump higher, and while you may think this is helpful, unfortunately, the drawback of this is that Luigi has reduced friction, making it feel as if you're walking on ice, and the increased jump height is mostly redundant as Mario can reach the same places normally, so playing as Luigi is nothing more than a handicap to the game as it makes levels more difficult. Luigi is only recommended to use if you are a masochist.
  21. While the camera is decent, limit your vision in several sections, which is bad, since the game is full of unfair obstacles and traps that are not self-deductible at first glance, the camera automatically moves according to Mario/Luigi's movement, so you can't see enemies and traps until they reach them, which most often results in cheap deaths, also because your vision is limited, jumping on small platforms is more coerced and there are too many sections with precise jumps that feel uncomfortable.
  22. The controls and the camera (Which range from decent to mediocre) make the game frustratingly bad and more difficult, making it hard to jump through platforms.It also makes the game unfairly difficult and rage inducing. The bad controls can cause cheap deaths because of how easy it is to crash into enemies or accidentally fall into a bottomless pit, the camera repeatedly makes it too difficult to see mobile platforms or other elements like the enemies, so you'll jump in faith, causing most of the time certain death.
  23. The game is very short (although this is understandable because it is a Famicom Disk System video game) and can be completed in two hours or an hour if you are very good, but the game has a replay value with bonus worlds which is made in a rather mediocre way, since you have to complete the game eight times without using warp zones, which takes a long time (eight hours or more to be exact), it's pretty tedious and bonus worlds are also not worth it, but the replayable value was best done in the Super Mario All-Stars version although the bonus worlds are still bad.

Super Mario Bros. Deluxe

  1. In the Super Mario Bros: Deluxe version, some features are omitted, such as the wind and Goomba Springboard mechanics, making some jumps extremely difficult, and the five bonus Worlds were also removed, so you don't get any reward when you pass the game eight times, due to the limited memory of the Game Boy Color, also the game screen is so cropped that it makes playing even more difficult. Sometimes you can't even tell if there's a pit or solid ground below you, blind jumps are common, hammers will fly out of nowhere and you better hope a Goomba doesn't fall out of the sky. Also, this version has the same jumping physics as the original Super Mario Bros., making moves such as reaching the exit in World 8-2 more difficult to perform.
    • On the flip side, there is no blowing wind in Deluxe, and gaps that required it were narrowed so you can cross them with a simple running jump.

Good Qualities

  1. The gameplay, while too difficult and infuriating, is decently fun at times, particularly in the normal sections, there are also some levels that are still worth playing, it can also be fun and challenging for experienced players looking out for a challenge.
    • Also the gameplay and the controls of the first game are decently functional on some occasions, although they are not enough.
  2. The game has good callbacks from Super Mario Bros, despite worsening gameplay and mechanics, there is still some effort to look like the first game in both gameplay and graphics and there is still some skill not so brutal and demanding on some levels, plus the game feels like the first game in a decent way but with many flaws.
  3. Different stage types allow for variety, although not much. The overworld is bright and cheerful and the more common stages. The underworld is dark and features a ton of bricks that can be destroyed. The water stages allow Mario to swim around and avoid enemies and the castles have obstacles that must be avoided and treetop levels are levels that require you to jump on precise platforms while dodging enemies.
  4. The hard difficulty, despite being a wasted potential, was a good idea for a sequel to Super Mario Bros. and a challenging video game for experienced players who are tired to play the first game and want a new challenge, some of the obstacles and traps are well laid out and do not resort to hard places to deduce or dodge, plus the design of some levels is interesting and cleverly made with their proper difficulty and not only focus on cheap resources to make the level more difficult, World 1-1 and 3-3 are a good example of this, plus they are eye-appealing compared to other levels with poor level design.
    • If you memorize the levels, completing the game should be a breeze.
    • Nintendo acknowledged their mistakes from both this game and the U.S. Super Mario Bros. 2 to develop the best game out of NES trilogy, Super Mario Bros. 3.
  5. You don't need to beat the game 8 times without warping to world 9, you can simply complete the game 7 times with warps, and then replay the game 8th time without warping. In other words, the method you used to complete the game 7 times doesn't matter unlike the 8th if you want to go to the 9th world.
    • Interestingly, there are 3 general routes to complete the game to the end: 1-9, 1-8 with warps, and A-D after completing the game 8 times respectively. Super Mario All-Stars version changes the way you unlock A-D by completing world 8 in order to experience the harder five worlds.
  6. The demanding player precision required in The Lost Levels made speedrunning the game remarkably fun to both spectating and trying to replicate the runs, plus it can be considerably difficult to get through the game in little time, more considering the Worlds A-D.
  7. Despite being taken from the prequel, the graphics looks as awesome as it was in the original game, plus there are some new (such as orange trees or mushroom platform blocks).
  8. Some things were improved from the first game:
    • Castles finally count your remaining time by adding it to your score;
    • The letters are given some shades (you can see it on the top of the screen);
    • After completing the game, you will see a door with Princess Peach, she will say a rhyme, and then seven Toads will come and thank the player for rescuing them.
    • Like the Cheep Cheeps, Bloopers can be stomped on in the overworld.
  9. The music is still good, catchy, and accurate for each level theme just like the first game, although, as previously said, no new songs were included and the music can become very repetitive besides the theme after you rescue Peach.
  10. Luigi, for the first time, handles differently from Mario, as his jumps are much higher than Mario's but he is more slippery to control. This would be seen in almost all his playable appearances in future games.
    • Speaking about the controls, they are quite solid and functional on their own merits, also the skid and the momentum is precise like the first game, although as indicated above, Luigi is very slippery to control, which can lead to some cheap deaths.
  11. The version included in Super Mario All-Stars is a bit fairer and more playable, although it is still quite difficult and infuriating to play.
    • The Super Nintendo version as stated above makes it so that you only have to complete World 8 once to unlock Worlds A-D (once without warping to reach World 9).
    • After completing 9-4, you proceed to A-1 instead of the endless gameplay until you will lose a life.
    • Looping castles give an audible indication if the player is going through the wrong or right paths.
    • Also the game has been redesigned with better graphics, (including completely new graphics for the poison mushroom) and includes more frequent checkpoints to save player progress.
    • The springboards in Worlds D-2 and C-3 have been fixed so they always spawn as they're supposed to.
  12. Notably, every updated version of the game has done something to make it slightly easier. The All-Stars and Deluxe ports save the game on a per level basis, rather than a per world basis as is the case with every other game it includes. The Super Mario All-Stars also makes Worlds 9 and A-D much easier to get as stated above. Even the straight ports of the original game for the Virtual Console and Nintendo Switch Online are made slightly easier with the addition of save states. The Game & Watch release includes an infinite life cheat and you can continue from the last world by pressing B on title screen.
  13. While the original Super Mario Bros. did have a cheat combination that allowed you to continue from the beginning of the world you lost your last life in, the Lost Levels outright gives you the option to continue when you get a Game Over. This still leaves a lot to be desired, but it's appreciated that they did this considering the difficulty of this game, Super Mario All-Stars introduced a better save system now for each level.
  14. The Warp Zone in World 3-1 that takes Mario all the way back to World 1. When playing the game, it can be viewed as a sadistic trick put in by the game developers, but as Arin Hanson of Game Grumps commented, in hindsight it is a pretty amusing prank. (However, there is a small pit to kill yourself instead of going back.)

Tips

  1. There is a method to get lives easily, what you have to do is that the last digit of the coins numerator matches the last digit of the timer when ending the stage, this method is easy, however, you can also get infinite lives by using the very first Koopa Troopa in 1-1 due to its placement, considering the game's difficulty, the latter is probably intentional.
  2. Due to the hard difficulty, it is recommended to use Warp Zones. Warp Zones are shortcuts to more advanced worlds. There are three in phase 1-2, one in 3-1, another in 5-1, two in 5-2, one in 8-1, another in A-2, and one more in B- Four. But remember that if you use them, you will not be able to access World 9. Also, the warps in 3-1 and 8-1 take you back to earlier worlds.
  3. Ducking is far more important in this game than other installments in the Mario franchise, and the game warns players about this with the narrow passage in 1-2.
  4. Memorize the levels so you can be familiar with the patterns of hazards and enemies. It may not seen like much, but it can go a long way to mastering the game.
  5. If you are going to play it, choose the Super Mario All-Stars version for the best experience due to its tight difficulty and improved level design.

Reception

The reception of this game is generally divisive: at first, the game received generally positive reviews and was praised mostly for its gameplay being similar to the prequel, but with increased difficulty.

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels got positive to mixed reviews from critics. Nintendo Life's reviewer felt that while the original was designed for recklessness, its sequel taught patience, and despite its difficulty, remained both "fiendishly clever" and fun. On the other hand, GamesRadar felt that the game was an unoriginal, boring retread, and apart from its "pointlessly cruel" difficulty, not worthy of the player's time. Many years after the release of The Lost Levels, fans of the series would modify Mario games to challenge each other with nearly impossible levels. The challenges of The Lost Levels presaged this community.

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels got mixed-to-negative reception from fans of the series, with many pointing out the frustrating difficulty and the bad level design, in Metacritic the Wii version has a User Score of 58/100[9]. Despite the Famicom Disk System version never being released in the west until the release of the Virtual Console on the Wii, it developed a cult following over the years. This sequel is remembered as a black sheep in the franchise and a reminder of imbalanced gameplay in Nintendo's history.

Trivia

  • The ending theme in the Famicom Disk System version was first composed as the ending theme of Super Mario Bros., before being shortened due to storage limitations.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Nintendo of America did not reject The Lost Levels because it was "too hard for Americans" (Japanese gamers and critics also had a grudge on it, too, even in a commercial a girl was shown screaming in front of the TV with fury after losing). The reason why Nintendo of America never released The Lost Levels is because they wanted a different Mario game, and they felt The Lost Levels was basically a tweaked version of an existing game sold as a sequel, which NoA refused to sell and complained that no one would want to play it. President Minoru Arakawa, felt that the game was unfairly difficult, even beyond the unofficial moniker of "Nintendo Hard" that the company's other games sometimes garnered. His opinion was that The Lost Levels would not sell well in the American market. "Few games were more stymieing", he later recalled of the game. "Not having fun is bad when you're a company selling fun." and the game was replaced with a reskinned version of the video game Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic! (English: Dream Factory: Heart Pounding Panic) also made by Nintendo. However, it was included outside of Japan in the Super Mario All-Stars game for the Super Nintendo and as an unlockable extra in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe for the Game Boy Color.
  • World 9 was inspired by a glitch in the Famicom version of the first game. The glitch involved removing the cartridge during the middle of gameplay, replacing it with a copy of Tennis and then resetting the console. After playing a few rounds of Tennis, the player must switch cartridges once again during gameplay, switching back to Super Mario Bros., and then reset the game once again. After doing all of this without turning off the console, the player must start the game by pressing A+Start (the continue code) in order to start in World 9, which is an underwater version of World 6-2 and World 1-4 with random enemies and crashes. This glitch is impossible to reproduce on the NES, since the console automatically resets when a cartridge is forcefully removed.
    • Additionally, in the original you could access the level named World -1, which is also a glitch which requires a certain action to do.
  • At the end of the Mario Kart 8 April 30 Nintendo Direct, when the Nintendo fan pulls out his "Things to do before I die" list to write "Buy Mario Kart 8", one of the other notes on the list is "Beat SMB2: The Lost Levels",[10] which is a joke about how difficult the game is compared to other Mario games.
  • Six levels of the game were reused from VS. Super Mario Bros (more specifically the levels 1-4, 2-2, 4-3, 5-4, 6-2, and 6-3).

Videos

ZetaSSJ Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels Playthrough Play List

References

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