10 things you didn't know about Super Mario Bros 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is all up inside us, and judging from our review – hell, everyone’s reviews – any notion you originally held that the game would be a simple 1.5 re-skin have been brought out behind the shed and shot in the face. So while we’re on the subject “Marios” and the number 2, what about that other mustachioed bastard child that is far more guilty of palette-swappery? Of course, we’re talking about 1988’s Super Mario 2 for the NES, a game so classically upheld, it’s absolved of all its sins.

Above: Press Start to RELIVE! 

It’s a personal favorite of mine, and I thought this would be the most appropriate time to reflect back on some SMB2 history you may not have known about. Oh, and I’m not going to insult your intelligence by stating that Mario 2 is a reskin of a Japanese game called Doki Doki Panic. Of course you know that; everyone knows that! But here’s some stuff you probably don’t:

Above: You already knew this, right? 

1. WTF is Doki Doki Panic?

All most people know about the game is that it sacrificed its life to give SMB2 its bones.  But the title alone should provoke some questions: Dream Factory: Doki Doki Panic. First off, the “Doki Doki” is onomonopia for the sound of fast-beating heart, roughly translating to “Heart-Pounding Panic.” So, what the hell is a “Dream Factory?”

Above: Clues in the title screen 

Every year Fuji Television would hold a massive communications and product expo known as Dream Factory. In 1987, they commissioned their own game starring the festival’s family of “Arabian” mascots: Imajin, Lina, Mama, and Papa – the folks who would eventually get a Mushroom Kingdom makeover.

Above: Something ain’t right here… 

2. Doki Doki Panic was already more “Nintendo” than you think

Contrary to what most people think, Doki Doki Panic wasn’t just some independently developed game plucked from obscurity and splashed in Mario paint. Who did Fuji TV get to commission said game? Why, a rising star in the growing medium of games: Shigeru Miyamoto. How’s that for credentials, haters?!

Above: How else could Doki Doki Panic feature Mario items like Starmen and POW Blocks without a visit from Nintendo’s lawyers? 

As a lifelong fan of SMB2, I hate to see it shrugged off as a hastily assembled stepchild. And by Shigeru Miyamoto’s own admission he worked more than twice as much on DDP/SMB2 than the “true” sequel, known to America as “The Lost Levels.”

3. Super Mario 2 came out the same month as Super Mario 3

In Japan, that is. If you really want to acknowledge The Lost Levels as the actual Super Mario 2, than you must acknowledge its full title: “Super Mario Bros. 2: For Super Players.” Talk about half-assed sequels, Lost Levels reuses so much original SMB material it’d barely qualify as a 1.2 enhancement, and only distinguishes itself from its predecessor with a merciless level of abject cruelty.

Above: Super Mario Bros. 2: For Super Players, also known as The Lost Levels, also known as unplayable

Luckily, Nintendo of America wasn’t having any of that shit. There was no way they were going to squander Mario’s ascending stardom by localizing a virtually unplayable Japanese title. Furthermore, the NES had visually progressed to a point where bricks and clouds motif alone wasn’t going to fly anymore. With that in mind, the Japanese began crafting a “truer” sequel in the form of Super Mario 3 while Doki Doki was being retrofitted as a Mario sequel for US audiences.

Above: You’d prefer the Mario game that gave us the Poison Mushroom?

Thus, Super Mario 2 came out the in October of ’88 in the US, just as SMB3 did in Japan. Westerners would have to wait almost two years to get SMB3, but the Japanese didn’t get our version until 1992, and they had to get it over Satallaview, one world at a time, AND could only play as Mario, so HA!

Above: An odd duck that deserves to be revisited 


  • Nannirk - July 15, 2010 9:38 p.m.

    Btw, your site is giving me popups.
  • Nannirk - July 15, 2010 9:37 p.m.

    Is that crab really US exclusive? I thought all the non-Asian versions were the same as the US version..
  • kibbles0515 - May 30, 2010 5:05 p.m.

    I can't read gamesradar anymore. Anyone in the journalism business should know that it is spelled "O-N-O-M-A-T-O-P-O-E-I-A", not onomonopia. Shame on you. Use spell check. Good day.
  • tayls - May 29, 2010 6:09 p.m.

    Great article; I certainly learned a lot. In SMB3, Mario is actually exiting stage LEFT, as stage directions are given from the actor's POV, not the audiences. But that's just nitpicking.
  • kiwicrossing - May 29, 2010 5:50 a.m.

    I just restarted New SMB and looking forward to a time when I can get these other older titles on the Virtual Console.
  • The_Tingler - May 28, 2010 2:51 a.m.

    F**KING HELL that picture of Pokey from Super Mario 64 is creepy as f**k! I don't remember him having an "I'm going to rape you and I'm just one huge set of spiky ass beads" smile on his face!
  • BurntToShreds - May 28, 2010 2:28 a.m.

    Birdo wouldn't send the ENTIRETY of Texas into DEFCON 2. Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and all of the relatively large cities and towns in Texas are more civilized than that. It was still a great zing, though. /rant ReCAPTCHA: to ires
  • Randomwordcombination - May 27, 2010 10:50 p.m.

    Great article!
  • HeroOfLegend - May 27, 2010 7:05 p.m.

    That last picture about Mario 3 is too much for me to handle.
  • philipshaw - May 27, 2010 11:07 a.m.

    Great article Chris, I with you in that I'm get sick of people saying SMB2 is not a real mario game
  • TyeTheCzar - May 27, 2010 2:24 a.m.

    Oh, I love that stab at Texas you took there. Very nice. I hate living in a state with a morally and mentally-deficient(morally mostly) governor and politicians. Oh, and wanna know the reason Texas went Republican? They were against the Civil Rights Act, therefore Texas is racist.
  • purple_omlet - May 27, 2010 1:23 a.m.

    mario would actually be exiting stage left in smb3.
  • Ridgley - May 26, 2010 9:49 p.m.

    I really enjoyed this game on my copy of all stars.
  • LBD_Nytetrayn - May 26, 2010 9:39 p.m.

    Wrote an article like this a few years back, touching on a number of these points. I do like this one, though: any voice saying that SMB2 is a real Mario game is fine by me. In fact, with the number of shared elements and things that would go on to become Mario staples, as well as how much else it defined, I can't help but wonder if Miyamoto didn't intend this to be a Mario game all along.
  • Transmatrix - May 26, 2010 6:45 p.m.

    Obligatory comment since cantista told me to on the last TalkRadar. I liked smb2.
  • Bawheidbob - May 26, 2010 5:05 p.m.

    Excellent reading - Loved SMB2 myself though i never quite go the hang of jumping on the eggs and picking them up
  • jimmdogg - May 26, 2010 3:52 p.m.

    Well researched. Good read.
  • Conman93 - May 26, 2010 3:12 p.m.

    Great article! I remember this game really well. It was really hard!!
  • shadowarrior99 - May 26, 2010 2:59 p.m.

    Nice article :) What about the world warper in smb3? Is that part of the play? I guess it depends what play you go to :P
  • ensabahnur - May 26, 2010 2:47 p.m.

    Antista, this was a great article, makes me want a sequel to this SMB2, on the DS would be perfect. I think (IMO) this was one of the more challenging Marios also, and Luigi and Toad were my go to guys in this game, i beat the game without using Mario, if they did it now i would want some seperate endings for each character depending on percentage used throughout the game. I remember Mario was the average one, your generic, Luigi was the jumper and able to get to harder to reach places and toad was the beast, and princess had the hover ability which was useful for the super long jumps that even Luigi couldnt make, its almost the creation of the class system in games (im kidding), dont actually know the first game that used a class system. Still, a great read.

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