Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"In all fairness, the 'real' Super Mario Brothers 2 wasn't much of a loss at all: it's like the Nintendo execs gathered in their board room in '87 and said, 'All right. We've just put out the biggest and best video game ever. Now we must get to work on the sequel, which naturally must use the same engine and graphics as the first game and be as maddeningly difficult and frustrating as our programmers' ones and zeros can allow. IT IS THE ONLY WAY.' Enter poison mushrooms, backwards warp zones, and Piranha Plants that don't play by Piranha Plant rules. I'll take a doctored Doki Doki Panic almost any day."

Hardcore Gaming 101 (not on Super Mario Bros 2, but Final Fantasy II)

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is the second game in the Super Mario Bros series. Following the success of Super Mario Bros., Nintendo decided to follow it up with a Mission Pack Sequel, titled Super Mario Bros 2. There were four main differences between the original and the sequel: the two-player mode was replaced by the option to play the game as either Mario or Luigi, Luigi was given higher jumps but inferior traction, some of the graphics were updated, and the game was about as close to Platform Hell as one gets short of a romhack.

Even though this was back when every game - including the first installment - was Nintendo Hard, the insane difficulty of this game infuriated many players, making Nintendo decide not to release it in America. Still, 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, Nintendo of America needed a Western Mario sequel in record time, so Nintendo put Mario sprites into another game by Shigeru Miyamoto, Doki Doki Panic, and called it Super Mario Bros. 2 (Super Mario USA in Japan so the Japanese wouldn't be confused when that game got released over there). When the original Super Mario Bros. 2 was finally released in America as part of the Super Mario All-Stars Compilation Rerelease, it was instead titled Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. It was also included in the Game Boy Color remake of the first game, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe (though in both All-Stars and Deluxe, it shares the same graphics as its predecessor, losing some of its uniqueness).

Tropes used in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels include:
  • A Winner Is You: Reach World 9-4 and you get a message made of blocks that reads "アリガトウ!" (Arigatou!, or "Thank you!")
  • Art Evolution: While the Mario Bros. and enemy sprites remain unchanged, the backgrounds now look different: the ground is now made from rock instead of brick, the clouds and bushes now have faces, mountains now look more jagged in appearance, trees are now drawn more realistically, the fence posts are replaced with mushrooms, lifts are now made of mushrooms instead of metal, bricks now have shading, the giant mushroom platforms are now replaced with cloud platforms (strangely enough, SMB2J-style mushroom platforms appear in the game All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros.), mushroom powerups now have eyes for the first time, and Princess Peach now has a redesigned sprite.
  • Bubbly Clouds: In addition to the "Coin Heaven" bonus areas from the first game, a few levels (the end of 8-2, 8-3, and A-3) take place in the clouds.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: In addition to red and green Koopas, this game also introduced red Piranha Plants, which pop in and out of pipes faster than the original green ones and emerge even if you're standing next to their pipe.
    • Also applies to the Poison Mushroom. Its color palette matches the background in the 8-bit versions (brown in overworld levels, blue underground, gray in castles). The All-Stars version went even farther to distinguish it, making it purple with a large skull on it.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Luigi gets his distinctive abilities here (higher jumps, doesn't stop on a dime), predating the US sequel. This was the original trope namer.
  • Easter Egg: Like in the original SMB, if you wait long enough on the title screen, then a brief demo will start to play. It also explains why you shouldn't touch Poisonous Mushrooms in the first place.
  • Endless Game: In the original, if you beat the game without warping, you can play World 9. But when you play through World 9 it just continues to loop, until you die or give up. However, in All-Stars, beating world 9-4 leads to world A-1 instead of looping.
  • Game Breaking Bug: An important springboard in world D-2 can sometimes fail to spawn, making it impossible to jump across the wide gap to the flagpole.
    • Ditto world C-3, where the fifth green spring (after the first three Piranha Plants) won't appear at times, and you need it to cross a very long gap.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: While this game also marked the reappearance of the only Buzzy Beetle that's actually prone to fireballs, the SNES remake also featured the only Bullet Bill that can actually be killed with fireballs as well. Guess where are the only two places these enemies can be found!
  • Goomba Springboard: This play mechanic makes its debut in the Mario series here. Also the Trope Namer.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: See the A Winner Is You example above. It was left intact in the North American All-Stars remake.
  • Guide Dang It: Worlds 2-2 and 8-2. 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 will repeat itself if a player tries to beat it like they would any other level. The only way to beat this level is to hit a block which spawns a Piranha Plant vine to climb up to the flagpole in the sky.
  • Hard Mode Filler: Several levels are almost identical, such as 7-4 and C-4.
    • Also 7-3 and C-3. The former is just a level where you have to use several springboards to get across long gaps; C-3 literally does nothing but add a Lakitu.
  • Invisible Block: Sure, the first game had them, but Lost Levels places them with the express intention to kill you. 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.
  • Jack of All Stats: The first time that Mario does this -- he manages to average out from only one other character.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Luigi
  • Lost Forever: In the SNES remake, your save file is permanently locked out of World 9 if you used a warp zone prior to when you would start World 9.
    • Not only that, but if you ever use a warp zone after getting World 9, you retroactively lose it for that save file. If you're unfortunate enough to save, that is.
  • Meaningless Lives: The All-Stars edition (see "Nintendo Hard" below).
  • Mind Screw: In the FDS version of World D-4, killing Bowser with fireballs will turn him into a Spiny, yet you still end up saving the Princess. This was corrected in the SNES remake.
  • Mission Pack Sequel: If it didn't get released here due to being Nintendo Hard, then it was most likely because of this.
  • Mythology Gag/Metagame: Several points in the game qualify. Consider the first set of ? blocks in World 1-1, where the mushroom is instead a poison mushroom, to be the first of many.
  • Nintendo Hard: Okay, the first one had this too... but this one is far harder.
    • Notably, every remake of the game has done something to make it slightly easier. Even the Super Mario All-Stars version saves the game on a per level basis rather than a per world basis as is the case with every other game it includes.
      • It also removed a number of Invisible Blocks specifically designed to cause unintended player deaths (although many were still left in), particularly in later stages. It also made Worlds 9 and A-D much easier to get to.
    • However, playing the game on Super Mario Bros DX arguably makes it even harder via Fake Difficulty; since the Game Boy has a smaller screen, you can hardly see what's ahead. Sometimes you can't even tell if there's a pit or solid ground below you. This version also removes the wind mechanic, making some jumps extremely difficult.
  • Platform Hell: One of the few commercial releases.
  • Poison Mushroom: The Trope Namer and its first appearance in the series. It is very easy to die at the start of 1-1 if you aren't expecting it. Which, considering that Poison Mushrooms hadn't been seen before this game, most players weren't. Even worse, in its original incarnation, they were almost indistinguishable from normal mushrooms.[1]
  • Secret Level: Worlds 9, A, B, C, and D. Some bordering on Brutal Bonus Level (even in relation to the rest of the game).
    • Interestingly, there are 3 general routes through the game (to an "end"): Worlds 1-9, Worlds 1-8 (with warps), Worlds A-D (unlocked after beating the game 8 times). All-Stars changes this to having Worlds A-D accessible the first time you complete the game.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: in Super Mario All-Stars. Of course they'd give the hardest Mario game in history a title screen with gentle harp and string music.
    • Makes sense in context, you're dying and going to heaven a lot!
  • This Was His True Form: Just like in the first game, all the Bowsers but the last one will reveal themselves to be minor enemies in disguise if defeated with fireballs. The All-Stars version adds new enemies for World A-C and makes the Bowser in World D the real one.
  • Unwinnable By Mistake (or is it?...): If you go to an underground bonus room in World 3-1, you'll come out of a pipe below some blocks that you must break to continue. Since only Super or Fire Mario (or Luigi) can break blocks, there's a hidden block with a power-up. However, if you pick up the power-up and then get hurt by the nearby Piranha Plant, you're screwed. Thankfully, you can restart the level once you die.
  • Warp Zone: Just like in the first game, except there's some which send you backwards. Using any of them prevents you from getting to World 9.
  1. However, if you stick around to watch the game demo, you can clearly see Mario trying to get the Poison Mushroom and dying, allowing this type of death to be averted by patient players. This says nothing, however, about Poison Mushrooms in Underground and Castle levels, since the mushroom's colors change and thus may lead a less Genre Savvy player to conclude that it's a different kind of mushroom.