The Story of Super Mario Bros. 2 – Gaming Historian

The Story of Super Mario Bros. 2 – Gaming Historian


[theme music] Back in 1988, Nintendo of America
released the highly anticipated follow-up to Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2. And… People loved it. Still do, actually. But the game was quite different
from the first installment. You were no longer stomping
on Goombas and Koopas but instead picking vegetables out of the
ground and throwing them at enemies. Bowser, the main villain from the first game, was replaced with a giant toad named Wart. But hey, developers like to try new ideas. Maybe Nintendo just wanted
to change things up a bit. No big deal. But then Super Mario Bros. 3 came out and… Bowser was back! So was all the Goomba and Koopa stomping. This made Super Mario Bros. 2
even more of a mystery. Why was it so different? It wasn’t until several years later
that people would discover the truth… about the game. This is the story… of Super Mario Bros. 2. [acoustic guitar plays
“Super Mario Bros. Overworld Theme”] In order to understand Super Mario Bros. 2, we first have to look at the original game, Super Mario Bros. Released in 1985, the game was a smash hit. In Japan alone, 6.8 million copies were sold. Worldwide, around 40 million copies. The best-selling book in
Japan at the end of 1985 was a strategy guide on
how to beat the game. Seeing the success, Nintendo
quickly worked on ports of the game, as well as special versions. One of these titles was an arcade game: Vs. Super Mario Bros. Vs. Super Mario Bros.
was similar to the original, but added some new, more difficult stages in order to gobble up quarters from gamers. Development was handled by
Nintendo’s Research & Development 4, the same team that created
the original Super Mario Bros. The manager was Mario
creator Shigeru Miyamoto. While R&D4 designed new levels, they noticed how much fun the
new challenges made the game. “We had to redesign some levels
to make them a little more difficult. We ran some tests with the team
and we couldn’t stop playing. When I realized this, I said to myself, ‘Gifted players who’ve completed
Super Mario with ease should find this fun.’ This is how the development
of Super Mario Bros. 2 started.” – Shigeru Miyamoto Super Mario Bros. 2 would be developed
for Nintendo’s brand new device, the Famicom Disk System. Released in February of 1986 and only in Japan, the Disk System played games made
on proprietary double-sided disks. They were cheaper to make than cartridges and could hold more data. Nintendo hoped that all their future big releases would be dedicated to the Disk System. That included Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and of course, Super Mario Bros. 2. The original game was a major success. Releasing a sequel was a no-brainer and would help drive sales of the Disk System. R&D4 would work on the sequel but were given a small
timeframe to complete the game. Miyamoto, who had just become a father, and was simultaneously working on
the upcoming Legend of Zelda game, took a step back in his role. Director duties were handed
over to Takashi Tezuka, a young designer who helped
with the original Super Mario Bros. Miyamoto did, however, find some time to tinker with levels. Said Miyamoto, “Designing challenging levels
really brought out the best in me.” Using the same game engine, as well as a few levels
from Vs. Super Mario Bros., Tezuka and his team were able
to finish the game in four months. Less than a year after
the original game’s release, Japan was given the first official sequel. Super Mario Bros. 2… on the Famicom Disk System. Well, here it is, the
Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2! Let’s boot it up and see what it has to offer. The first thing you’ll notice right away is there’s no longer a two-player option. You can either play the game as Mario or Luigi. Unlike the original game, though, each plumber has their own unique traits. Luigi can jump really high but has really poor traction, which makes it seem almost like he’s on ice. Mario can’t jump as high, but he has better traction. This was the first game to
give Luigi his characteristics. In most games since, he is given the ability to
jump higher than his brother. The poison mushroom in the
first level lets you know right away that this game isn’t messing around. Super Mario Bros. 2 is hard. Very hard. The level designs seem
almost deliberately cruel. Some levels force you to find
secrets in order to advance, else you just stare off into an endless pit. There are warp zones to help you advance, but even these can trick you. I was able to find a warp zone in World 3 that would only send me back to World 1. New enemies appear, too. Red piranha plants pop out of pipes quickly and won’t stop even if you are close by. Later stages feature Hammer Bros. that keep moving towards you. The game even adds wind in some areas, making jumps longer and
more difficult to accomplish. You only get three lives before it’s game over. Luckily, the game offers you unlimited continues. As you can see, the game looks just like the first one. The music is exactly the same, too, which led many gamers to
criticize Super Mario Bros. 2 as a ROM hack or an expansion pack of the first game. Regardless, Super Mario Bros. 2 went
on to become the best-selling game on the Famicom Disk System, selling two and a half million units. With the success, Nintendo made plans
to release the game in North America. They sent it across the Pacific Ocean… for review. [acoustic guitar plays
“Super Mario Bros. 3 Overworld Theme”] Back in 1981, Nintendo of America hired a young,
enthusiastic red-haired man to help unbox, assemble and even deliver arcade games. His name was Howard Phillips. As new games were unboxed, Phillips would occasionally
get a chance to play them. President Minoru Arakawa noticed the
enthusiasm in his young warehouse employee and would often ask for
Phillips’ opinion on new titles. He saw value in a Western gamer’s opinion. By 1985, Phillips was playing just about
every new Nintendo product to see if it would be a
good fit in North America. In the Summer of 1986, Howard Phillips received a new assortment
of games from Nintendo of Japan for review. Among the games was Super Mario Bros. 2. Phillips was surprised. This was the sequel to the most popular
game on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and he had received it without warning. He quickly booted the game up to test it out. He was immediately killed by a
poison mushroom in the first level. As Phillips played on, he became more and more
astonished at the difficulty of the game. “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 Phillips Phillips went to Nintendo of America
president Minoru Arakawa to share his thoughts. Arakawa silently nodded. Video games were still on the comeback
trail in North America at the time. A difficult sequel to the extremely
popular Super Mario Bros. game could potentially turn off new players. Not only that, but visually the game looked exactly like the original. Nintendo of America wanted
to show off new gameplay and better graphics. The game would also have to be
converted from a Disk System game into a cartridge. By the time the game could be mass produced, it would probably seem outdated. Releasing Super Mario Bros. 2 in North America would not be a wise marketing decision. Arakawa contacted his father-in-law, Nintendo of Japan president Hiroshi Yamauchi, asking for a more accessible sequel. It seemed like an impossible task. The Nintendo R&D teams were
overwhelmed with other projects. But a sequel was necessary. Nintendo’s rival, Sega, was pushing their Alex Kidd character. And third-party Nintendo licensees
began making up their own franchises. Nintendo risked having their
flagship mascot fade into obscurity. The idea then came to rework
an older title as a Mario game. But which game? Nintendo found their answer in the Summer of 1987 when Research & Development 4 completed and
released a new game on the Famicom Disk System: Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. [acoustic guitar plays
“Super Mario 64 Overworld Theme”] In April of 1986, a recent graduate of the Osaka University of Arts joined Miyamoto’s R&D4 team: Kenuske Tanabe. Miyamoto encouraged his team to be creative and come up with potential new ideas for games. Tanabe came up with a platforming game where players would progress
through the level vertically rather than horizontally. “The idea was that you would
have people vertically ascending, and you would have items and
blocks you could pile up to go higher, or you could grab your friend
that you were playing with and throw them to try and continue to ascend. Unforunately, the vertical scrolling gimmick wasn’t enough to get us interesting gameplay.” – Kensuke Tanabe The technical limitations of the NES made
it difficult to program this type of gameplay, and playing it solo just wasn’t very fun. The prototype was shelved. But Nintendo was a company
known for recycling ideas. An opportunity for the prototype to be used came when the Fuji Television
company approached Nintendo about creating a game for
their upcoming summer festival, The Dream Factory. The Dream Factory took place between
July and August of 1987 in Tokyo and Osaka. It was used to promote Fuji Television’s
latest shows and increase viewership. It was a huge celebration with live concerts, TV specials and costumed events. Fuji TV wanted special products
to coincide with the festival, and a collaboration with
Nintendo would be huge. The Famicom was selling at a blistering rate. One in four households in Japan had the system. Kensuke Tanabe was put
in charge of the project and he met with Fuji Television
officials to discuss the game. Executives handed Tanabe papers that
contained drawings of Arabic-themed characters known as the Dream Factory Family. They were the official mascots of the festival. “Make a game with this,” they said. Tanabe dug up his shelved prototype
and went over the concept with his boss, Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto made a few suggestions. “Make something a little more Mario-like. An action game,” he said. “As long as it’s fun, anything goes.” Development was officially underway, and several veterans of the Mario
franchise worked on the game. While Tanabe served as director, Miyamoto supervised the project. Koji Kondo,
the composer for Super Mario Bros., would provide the soundtrack. Under Miyamoto’s supervision, horizontal levels were added
in addition to the vertical ones. The original prototype
concept of picking things up became the core gameplay mechanic. Several Mario references were added as well. There were stars, POW blocks, coins and warp zones. At one point, Miyamoto felt the game
was TOO similar to Mario. On July 10, 1987, Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic was released for the Famicom Disk System. Translated, the game is known as
“Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic.” The game begins with two children,
named Poki and Piki, reading a storybook. Suddenly, an evil hand pulls them inside. Their small Monkey, Rusa, runs off to get help from
the Dream Factory family, who enter the book to rescue the kids. Doki Doki Panic lets you play as
the four members of the family. First, there is Imajin, a play on the word “imagine.” He’s the most balanced character with average jump, speed and strength. Next is Lina, the sister. She can hover for a short period of time but isn’t very fast or strong. Mama has the ability to jump really high but has subpar speed and strength. And finally, there is Papa, who is fast and strong
but isn’t very good at jumping. The core gameplay revolves around
picking things up to use as a weapon, usually a vegetable. Of course, not everything is a vegetable. Sometimes you’ll pull up bombs, clocks that stop time and magic lamps. When you throw these lamps, they conjure up a door to another world, where you can potentially upgrade your health and gather coins. The coins allow you to play the bonus
slot machine game at the end of each level to earn extra lives. If you jump on top of an enemy, you’ll go for a ride. But you can also pick them up and throw them. There’s also a variety of
masks throughout the levels, all references to the Dream Factory festival. The game takes place in a variety
of locations, such as deserts, grassy plateaus, caves and dungeons. Thanks to the vertical gameplay, you’ll be going up into the clouds as well. Doki Doki Panic has a very Arabic feel to it which matches the characters. Because of their unique abilities, the game offers some strategy in
how you want to approach each level. In order to see the true ending, you’ll need to beat the
game with all four characters. Luckily, Doki Doki Panic has a save system, so you won’t have to do it all in one sitting. Critically, the game was a success. The popular Japanese magazine Famitsu
gave the game a score of 31 out of 40, calling it, “an action game that’s a
slight remix of Super Mario.” When Nintendo of America requested a
more accessible sequel to Super Mario Bros., Nintendo of Japan saw Doki Doki Panic as a potential answer. It was made by the same team
that worked on Super Mario. In fact, Miyamoto approached
development of Doki Doki Panic as if it were, quote, “a full-fledged new Mario.” Graphically, the game looked
much better than Super Mario Bros. and the gameplay was different. While Fuji Television owned
the Doki Doki Panic characters, Nintendo owned everything else. They could replace the Dream Factory
characters with Mario characters and release the game without any legal issues. The game was sent to Nintendo
of America offices with a note. “If you replace the four characters
with Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad, will the American children be happy? Nintendo of America thought yes, and plans were underway
to change Doki Doki Panic into a Super Mario sequel for North America. Tanabe and his team went back to work. In 1988, Howard Phillips received
a new package on his desk, this time containing a modified copy of Doki Doki Panic. He thought it was a lot of fun and passed the news on to Mr. Arakawa. Nintendo went to work hyping up its release. Around the same time, the company was
getting ready to launch its own paid magazine, known as “Nintendo Power.” Gale Tilden, who was in charge of the magazine, made the decision to feature
Super Mario Bros. 2 on the cover, as well as include a large
walkthrough on the first few levels. Will Vinton Studios, the same studio that designed
the California Raisins claymations, came up with the cover. They created a clay diorama
of Super Mario Bros. 2 featuring Mario and the main villain, Wart. In July of 1988, over 600,000 gamers across the continent received the very first issue of Nintendo Power free of charge. It was the first time gamers would discover they were getting a sequel to Super Mario Bros. Later that year, on October 10, 1988, Super Mario Bros. 2 was
officially released in North America. [“Super Mario Bros. 2 Menu Theme” plays] Super Mario Bros. 2 quickly became
the hot Christmas item that year. The game was somewhat hard to come by, thanks to the industry-wide
chip shortage of 1988. It was so popular, in fact, that ABC’s “20/20” news program
featured a segment with John Stossel trying to find a copy of the game. So what are some of the differences between
Doki Doki Panic and Super Mario Bros. 2? Well, overall, the games are pretty much the same, but there are a few small differences. The most obvious difference is that
the characters have been changed. Imajin, the most balanced character, was changed to Mario. Lina, with her hovering abilities, was changed to Princess Toadstool, also known as Princess Peach. Mama, who could jump the highest, was changed to Luigi. And finally, Papa, who was fast and strong but couldn’t jump well, was changed to Toad. The plot was changed as well. The opening cinematic was completely
removed and replaced with some text explaining that Mario had a dream
about a strange world known as Subcon that was cursed by the evil Wart. After waking up, Mario and his friends
have a picnic at a nearby mountain when they stumble upon
a cave that leads to Subcon. It’s up to the four heroes to save the day. The handy save feature from
Doki Doki Panic was removed entirely, as the game was converted
from a disk to a standard cartridge. Nintendo could have added a save battery but instead decided to remove the requirement of beating the game with all four characters. In Doki Doki Panic, you could only
change characters between worlds. Each world consisted of three levels. With Super Mario Bros. 2, you now have the ability to change
characters between each level. One welcomed change is the ability to run, which was surprisingly
absent from Doki Doki Panic. Just like the original Super Mario Bros., you can now hold the B
button to run in Mario 2, which makes some areas
of the game much easier. Another change to make the
game more Mario-like was shrinking. When you got hit in Doki Doki Panic, you simply lost a health bar. In Mario 2, if you get down to one health, you’ll shrink down, similar to the first game. Nintendo also added a new boss
known as Clawgrip to World 5, as the original Doki Doki Panic
featured a more difficult battle with a white Mouser enemy. Those are probably the biggest changes, but there are a few small audio
and visual changes as well. Some animations were improved,
such as the grass, cherries and waterfalls. Several items were replaced with
items found in the Mario universe, like mushrooms and Koopa shells. The bonus slot machine game after each level was also given a visual upgrade. Overall, the two games are very similar, but Super Mario Bros. 2 does
feel like the more polished version. Nintendo kept quiet about the conversion of
Doki Doki Panic to Super Mario 2 for a few years. Several magazines at the time did mention it, but most gamers were unaware. The first official acknowledgement came in 1991 with the “Mario Mania” strategy guide, where Nintendo mentioned the
switch in a small blurb at the bottom. In 1993, Nintendo released a compilation
of Mario games on the Super Nintendo known as Super Mario All-Stars. The game contained enhanced versions
of the first three Super Mario games, as well as a game that most had never heard of: Super Mario: The Lost Levels. What was the “Lost Levels?” It was the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, the Famicom Disk System game that
North America and Europe never saw. For many players, this was their
first experience with the game. The realization that North
American and European gamers never got the original Super Mario Bros. 2 led some players to consider
their version an outlier. Not a real Mario game. But Super Mario Bros. 2 had a
profound effect on the series as a whole. It sold over 10 million copies worldwide, making it the third best
selling NES game of all time. Several characters that have
become staples in the series first appeared in Super Mario 2, including Bob-ombs, Shy Guys and Birdo. It was also the first time
gamers could play as Toad and Princess Peach. The game also established
uniformed looks for Mario and Luigi. Luigi was finally updated to
stand out from his brother by being taller. Super Mario Bros. 2
proved to be so successful that in 1992, Nintendo
rereleased the game in Japan as “Super Mario USA.” Ultimately, the decision to not bring
the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 to North America and Europe was a good one. The difficulty and similarity
to the first game just… didn’t make sense for the
newly revived video game industry. If you want to play this game for yourself, you do have a few options. You can, of course,
play it on Super Mario All-Stars, or as an unlockable bonus
in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe for the Game Boy Color. However, these versions are slightly modified to make the game a little easier. So if you want the real deal original challenge, I suggest picking it up on the
Wii or Wii U Virtual Console. As for the Western Super Mario Bros. 2, I remember playing it as a kid and… not really noticing how different it was. It just felt like a Mario game. And to know that it was
developed by the Mario team, well… that just makes sense! Unfortunately, we may never see
a rerelease of Doki Doki Panic. Fuji Television holds the
rights to the characters, so if you want to play this game, you’ll have to import it along
with a Famicom Disk System. But really, I think you’ll be just fine
playing the Western Super Mario Bros. 2. It’s a damn good game. That’s all for this episode of Gaming Historian. Thanks for watching! [“Super Mario Bros. 2 Theme” plays]


100 thoughts on “The Story of Super Mario Bros. 2 – Gaming Historian

  1. Just goes to show you how the people that cry that games are too dificult sometimes get it their way sadness intensifies

  2. Hate to think the game reviewer for America is one of those morons that plays games on “easy” mode and feels like a boss

  3. Yikes. So they basically put skins on characters from an entirely different game and called it Super Mario 2? Tragic.

  4. So what you saying is that we're still suffering the wrath of a ginger casual's opinion in 2019. The more you know.

  5. I wish they had kept Mario in his original red hat, blue shirt, red overalls outfit. I liked Mario a lot more in his red overalls and blue shirt combo, it looks a lot better.

  6. I loved mario2 i cant believe i forgot all about it. Jumping into the vases chased my masks brought it all back.

  7. I love the fact the guy who basically tests games would be upset that a game is being different, more or less. He called the game a punishment yet I believe games became harder during the 80's and 90's as opposed to something like the original donkey kong or pac-man.

    Plus Nintendo just straight up made Mama Luigi a meme before the super mario world cartoon came out and it was gonna come out with the NES later that year so they were ahead of memes before it became a meme before internet.

  8. You may not have noticed it was different when you played Super Mario Bros 2. But once Super Mario Bros. 3 came out, you should have realized that the previous game was very different.

  9. Great video, thank you. In my opinion SMB2 was the best NES Mario game. As a child I was always confused why they changed back to a more traditional mario in SMB3

  10. Perfect choice really, i love Super Mario Bros 2. It's far better then the original japanese version 👌

    Great video on this subject 👍😊

  11. If you get Nintendo switch online you get a bunch of famicon game for free including Mario bros 2 and the lost levels

  12. Has anyone noticed that Nintendo Power had Mario in " blue " overalls… And red shirt.
    The Game cover has him in RED overalls and a Blue Shirt.
    The art has him the same.
    But the game has him wearing Blue overalls and a Red shirt ughhhh.
    What one is canon ??

  13. I've Got Super Mario Bros. 2 (American/PAL Version) And it's still Super Hard (Only Beat it Recently) But, that's a custom for NES Games. But, I Wouldn't Dare Meddle with the Japanese Version!

  14. 29 years ago I had a discussion with my brother he said I've seen this game before but just different… I never believed him until now. To bad he is dead I can't tell him this but you was right brother !!

  15. I came here for the music, and I was NOT disappointed! But I learned SO much about my favorite Mario Brothers game! Once I'd beaten it, and got fairly efficient at it, I'd make the rounds to my friends' houses showing them how it was done. Thanks for the awesome memories!

  16. I'd give my left arm for Nintendo to release a Nintendo Power Collection. I'd pay obscene amounts of money for that.

  17. If Howard Phillips didn't suck at Mario, we never would have gotten the Doki Doki Panic version of Mario 2.

  18. Howard Phillips: I’m going to try this new gam-

    Mushroom: *kills howard*

    Howard: (´༎ຶོρ༎ຶོ`)

  19. Always my least favorite Mario game, but I appreciate the story behind it and realize that it was the right call for the casual American gamer.

  20. Es la primera vez que veo realmente TODA la historia detrás del juego, no sólo partes de ella.

    Me encantó saber cosas que siempre había querido saber, como de dónde viene la idea de las máscaras o la idea de las pociones, o por ejemplo saber si en la versión japonesa se hacían pequeños y cabezones al ser tocados por un enemigo como en la americana.

    Además muy buenos datos, como el por qué de la portada de la primera revista de Nintendo Power.

    ¡¡Excelente video Gaming Historian!!👏👏👏

  21. Now if they could build a machine where all the classics can go on and you can av a controller of them times to play them. You would rival Apple.

  22. I don't know why but I knew right away that guy was red haired the moment saw the picture… Maybe is be dress like RL Jimmy Olsen

  23. Howard Phillips= Pussy and this is why we didnt get the real super mario brothers 2 for a while…. wonder if he is why we got Final Fantasy mystic quest vs real final fantasy 2 on NES.

  24. I didn’t liked super Mario 2, it was awful. ITS NOTHING LIKE THE FIRST ONE! I LIKED THE LOST LEVELS BETTER. I am sorry

  25. I don't get why people loved it. I HATED the Super Mario Bros 2 we got. it was such a piece of shit. They should have gone with "The Lost Levels" for the second game as intended. Fuck Super Mario Bros 2.

  26. This was a really great and informative video but I think it was a weird move to neglect the fact this Super Mario Bros. 2 has consistently won game of the year since it was released.

  27. Mannnnnnn Nintendo dodged a bullet with that one. Super Mario 2 was awesome, though I never owned it. I owned 1 & 3 and never understood why. I think the difficulty in finding it probably has alot to do with my folks not buying it for me.

  28. Super Mario 2 did feel very different for me as a kid…I knew something wasn't quite kosher about it…and now you've confirmed why! Dammit, they just took another game and changed the heads! But good call on not releasing the Japanese Mario 2…saved American and Australian kids hours of frustration and heart-ache! That game looks impossible!

  29. This is a great video 👍. I heard about you off a podcast . GDP#5 John and Bishop Talk favourite video game tracks,
    https://www.podbean.com/ea/pb-swkkj-bbbb8f

  30. I've been putting off playing Super Mario Bros 2 (Japanese) because of the difficulty. Beating the first Super Mario Bros was hard, but I'm more worried about the lost levels. Heck, I doubt I'd actually go play Doki Doki Panic (The English SMB2) over that. But, I'mma complete Super Mario Bros 3 first.

  31. Mario 2 never felt like a "regular Mario" game to me. It was different. I never got to beat it. I beat Mario 1, 3 and onward but for some reason never 2. It was weird and different to me.

  32. The Nintendo fun club(a free membership you signed up for) stop issuing free monthly newsletters for it became a subscription based magazine called Nintendo Power. Nintendo Fun club members received the first issue of Nintendo power for free in order to entice them to purchase the annual subscription.

  33. Love this channel, Really well done, top notch. I got this game when I was 9(I am 39 now) and never put 2+2 together, until I saw SMB 2 Japan mentioned in an issue of Nintendo power like 4 years later. SMB 2 will always be one of my favorites. It is " a damn good game", Funny I've Never heard you swear before :).

  34. [dl;dw] Nintento America just reskinned Doki Doki Panic and called it Super Mario Bros. 2 because a warehouser did not like the actual Super Mario Bros. 2.

  35. There's just something about this channel that no matter how many classic gaming channels there are; even as just a casual retro gamer, I'll only watch the Gaming Historian.

  36. The thought never even crossed my mind that someone out there might like this game or think it is anything like the other Mario titles. When I first played it as a kid I always thought it was radically different and noticeably shitty and lame. I always thought it was kind of a sophomore slump and everyone everywhere thought it sucked too. It’s crazy to me how you can say you feel they’re so similar because to me it’s always been glaringly obviously this game had nothing to do with anything Mario related.

  37. I still can't believe that baby couldn't handle Golden Mario. I just want to add that in South Africa we got both on NES, but Super Mario Lost levels was called Golden Mario and SMB2 was called Super Wonderful Mario, probably a play on Dokidoki

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