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 


  • Fisforfat - May 26, 2010 1:08 a.m.

    Someone spelled first wrong in the wtf is doki doki panic paragraph
  • aequitas13 - May 26, 2010 1:12 a.m.

    I've always loved SMB2... even if it was a re-skin. It was so different than SMB and you got to play all the different characters which was fun. Did not know Yoshi's love interest was a dude though... what a creeper.
  • infestedandy - May 26, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    Mr. Antista, you're a genius! I remember playing this game as a child and wondering why everything was so different, but I read the manual and all was well! The game may have been drastically different than what was to be expected but it was a lot of fun and much harder than any Mario could hope to be. The world variations, like digging through sand covered in Shy-Guys, and different bosses definitely made this game.
  • Modroneman - May 26, 2010 1:14 a.m.

    Great article! I already knew of the Doki Doki Panic game, but I totally forgot about Wart being in a Link's Awakening! I loved that game to death and totally forgot about that. Nicely done! Very entertaining read.
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - May 26, 2010 1:17 a.m.

    i already new all this.. nah i'm lying
  • Tenfey - May 26, 2010 1:20 a.m.

    Thank you for imparting this knowledge on me Mr. Antista.
  • KREATIVEassassin - May 26, 2010 1:25 a.m.

    Super Mario Bros. 2 is easily my favorite Mario game on the NES. It's one of the few games I can speedrun in an impressive amount of time. Good article, Chris. Glad someone else appreciates this game as much as I do.
  • twishart - May 26, 2010 1:36 a.m.

    This game was always the odd one out for me, but I still loved it - and the end music is fantastic, it could be my favorite Mario theme ever.
  • Tomsta666 - May 26, 2010 1:36 a.m.

    You can't not be a Nintendo fan and not appreciate the oddity that is Super Mario Bros 2!! LOVE IT!!
  • chunko97 - May 26, 2010 1:39 a.m.

    It is funny tho that this game never really happened.
  • FlikNightshade - May 26, 2010 1:40 a.m.

    I have plenty of fond memories with that game. I still remember being the first person I knew to actually complete it and my five year old self cheering like a fool at my "accomplishment." Japan can keep their poison mushrooms and death traps, I'll take wild kicking Luigi and floating Peach in my Mario 2 any day.
  • Hoody - May 26, 2010 1:41 a.m.

    Really interesting and cool article, GR needs more like it.
  • DrDevious - May 26, 2010 1:41 a.m.

    Nice article! I love learning little facts and tidbits about old games! If you need a follow up article, Id suggest Super Mario World. Thats my favorite game.
  • hunterXhunter - May 26, 2010 1:46 a.m.

    I always forget that SMB3 was a play.
  • zer0hvk - May 26, 2010 1:47 a.m.

    I love this game and I didn't know many of the things you mentioned, awesome article! I love you GameRaiders
  • JoeMasturbaby - May 26, 2010 1:57 a.m.

    what about the deaths from falling off the platforms in SMB3?
  • Aeshir - May 26, 2010 2:13 a.m.

  • initialreactionshow - May 26, 2010 2:14 a.m.

    Great article Chris. I had no idea about how much extra animation is in the game compared to Doki Doki. I also had no idea Wart is in a Zelda game! I absolutely love Super Mario 2. I beat the entire game with my brother as a kid and it is still one of my favorite Mario games to date.
  • shyfonzie - May 26, 2010 2:18 a.m.

    Great articla, Mr. Antista!
  • Triscuitable - May 26, 2010 2:20 a.m.

    I revisit this game every week on my GBA. I have SMB: Advance, which is the same game with an ENOURMOUS graphical overhaul. Better than what SMB2 got. I play it in HD, with my GB Player, on a modded GameCube that uses HDMI cables!

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