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Super Mario Bros 2 myths

So the myth is that the japanese Super Mario Bros 2 was considered too difficult for the western market and instead they reskinned another game and that’s what we got. Then in the SNES “All-Star” collection just a few years later we finally got the Japanese original, named “The Lost Levels”.

OK. But in reality…

A lot of the levels from “The Lost Levels” had been released here. Just not on the home console, it was only for the coin-up arcade (“VS Super Mario Bros”). So obviously not “too difficult”. That was one factor, but “too similar” was a much bigger issue, including the six levels that were reused from “VS”. Overly similar-looking sequels were frowned upon in the post-crash eighties video game landscape. That’s also why Castlevania II and Zelda II were so different. But yeah, there was a brief trend of making western versions easier which, as the rental game blossomed, quickly changed to make western games harder to screw over renters. Like Ninja Gaiden III where the western version is almost boringly difficult with how far back you need to start over, compared to the Japanese orginal.

Yes, Super Mario USA, a.k.a. “Mario Madness”, was built on an advertising game that was given a narrow release in conjunction with a television corporation’s tech demo festival. “Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic” (or “夢工場ドキドキパニック”), starring the maskots for that particular television manufacturer’s expo event. But that “Heart-Pounding Panic” game itself started life as a Super Mario Bros sequel!

They started working on a sequel to Super Mario Bros, couldn’t get it done in time, rushed out a glorified level pack (on disk only) as “Super Mario Bros. 2” (adds wind, poison, and a separate Luigi), and then resumed work on their sequel, and then they were hired to quickly put out the ad game and decided to use their original SMB2 prototype to do that, gave it a disk release that received a 31 Famitsu score. So they reskinned a Mario game into “Heart-Pounding Panic” and then, when Nintendo of America asked for a different take on SMB2, Nintendo of Japan insisted on reskinning “Heart-Pounding Panic” back into a Super Mario theme which was released in 1988 in America. That Mario version of the game was later released in Japan as well, on a cart called Super Mario USA in 1992, only one year before Super Mario All-Stars and two years after Super Mario World and the Super Famicom. But still.

And characters from it such as the “Pokey” cactus showed up right away in SMB3 while others, like the Shy-Guy, didn’t appear again until Super Mario World 2 for the SNES.

“Mario Madness” a.k.a. “Super Mario USA” is a real Mario game and arguably a sequel to SMB1. That’s not to say that Lost Levels isn’t fun too or that it didn’t deserve it’s FDS “Super Mario Bros 2” moniker. It’s also great. I’m glad there were three true sequels on the NES (LL, SMUSA, and SMB3). I’m sad the NES couldn’t have a longer life. I don’t feel ready to upgrade to SNES yet… It’s S-SMP sound subsystem sounds like screaming into a pillow under water compared to crisp square waves and triangles of the NES.