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december 13, 2013

SMB2 "lost levels", original vs All Stars version



One of my favorite games is Super Mario Bros 2 in Japanese version.
The appeal of this game for me is in its original FDS version.

In its original version, SMB2 is more challenging. The physics in the FDS version is the same as in the first Super Mario Bros, and I hope that people can remember that SMB is more difficult to control than a game such as Super Mario Bros 3 or Super Mario World.

Personally I think that the "cutified" sprites and music in All Stars take away the charm off the original.

In the original, you can't control your character very much after he has started to jump. And I think your character seems bigger and less likely to fall off platforms. So they have made it easier.

A more obvious difference is that in the original you don't have any save function. If you are game over on 8-4, you have to continue from 8-1. And the levels 8-1 to 8-4 are really difficult.

When it comes to level design, the levels are basically the same. 

I remember when I first played this game in Super Mario All Stars, 20 years ago. It felt kind of weird. But after having tried the FDS versions I started to appreciate the original more than I ever did before and it surpassed my lack of curiosity for the All Stars.

I think it took me around 30 lives to beat 8-1 and 8-3, and they are still tricky. 8-4 takes me even more lives. 8-2 is actually relatively easy. There is supposed to be a very difficult jump there, but frankly I can often get it on the first try. Maybe the difficulty is in finding out you have to do the jump in the first place, in case you didn't know.

Here is my playing from the castle in 7-4 and all the levels to 8-4.

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I don't have any good editing software and all I can do is the cut videos at the beginning and end. I took the videos from in between boring parts where I died alot, but the gameplay in each video is continous. So cheer for me! When I die, you'll have to wait longer.

You should know that I took a lot of extra lives in the beginning of my run! But I had lost almost all by the end, LOL. Here you can check the beginning where I took 100+ lives.
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If you think it is cheating, you should know that this trick can only be done in this particular place in the game, right at the beginning. Nintendo must have put it there on purpose.

I got inspired to play through the game, and do the 1-up trick, by watching the Game Center DX episode of the game. Seems it was deleted from youtube, but it can be found here: http://vimeo.com/22219988.

I've also made a video of the all-stars version here. As I play it again, it feels slower than the original. That's one thing I like about the original - it is a fast paced game.

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I made a longer play of the original, playing through every single level one by one without using warps. If you complete it that way, you get to play the secret world at the end, as you'll see.
I was sure I wouldn't make it because I had died so many times and only had a few lives left, but with some luck I did it. This video shows my last attempts at 8-4. I was nervous,  still can't believe how I did it.

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Each time you beat the game, either with warps or without, you get a star added to the title menu. This is saved onto the disk and will be there for as long as the disk works. In my copy above, you can see from video 1-1 that there are 3 stars. At the end of the video 8-4, you can see that another star was added.

I don't know how many stars you can have, but I have had some copies of this game that has had the title menu full of stars. When you have 7 star (or 8?) you can press Left+A (or Left+Start?) to reach the Hell Courses. They are pretty much impossible, and I don't even bother with them.

The original SMB2J can also be found as a famicom mini game which is identical to the original but on a smaller screen.

For GBA (region free game). I had one for 275 SEK
 
It is also on Wii Virtual Console and 3Ds virtual console. I don't own those consoles and can't evaluate that.

A review said about the Wii game:
A fairly popular trend on the Internet now is hacking old Mario games to make new levels, then challenging friends to try to beat the purposefully too-difficult designs. You can find videos of the subculture scattered on YouTube and similar sites, and watch as players try over and over to get through seemingly impossible side-scrolling challenges. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is a lot like that. 

Compared to the Mario we Americans know and love, The Lost Levels feels a lot like a fan-made hack – with platforming challenges that are just a bit too frustrating and don't flow as well as Mario 1, and graphics that seem like a downgrade as well. But, odd as it is, this is the real, actual follow-up to Super Mario Bros. the way it was intended to be. A set of 52 extra levels, all made harder than any found in the first SMB, and all spiced up with just enough new elements to make it stand alone as its own separate game. It's absolutely worth 600 of your Wii Points to experience it, and Luigi's alternate controls, and the near-maddening new vision of the Mushroom Kingdom for the very first time. Just prepare yourself for repeated trips to the Game Over screen, because it turns out that NOA [nintendo of america] made the right choice after all, over 20 years ago, in holding this one back.  -- http://www.ign.com/articles/2007/10/04/super-mario-bros-the-lost-levels-review

Personally I think the best experience is still to play the original software on the original hardware. This can be a difficult and complicated thing. First you need to get either an AV modded famicom+disk system, or a twin famicom. And make sure the disk system is refurbished by a qualified person!

Twin Famicom I sell for 998 SEK, fully working, with EU power and two disk games
I do the necessary belt restoration, but sometimes I have to recalibrate some of them because they weren't reading 100% accurately. I have a free 1 year warranty for recalibration. I hope I now have to skills to do it properly, but three months ago I had two recalibrations.
Getting either of these setups in working condition usually will cost around 1000 SEK (150$), plus shipping. Possibly you have to spend more on finding the power supplies you need.

Then the game will cost around 100-150 SEK (15-25$) for the disk. If you want a boxed copy, you'll need to pay a bit more. The good thing is that the game is common, it sold more than 2 million copies in Japan. A little trivia is that the game only takes one side of the disk, so if you are lucky you might get another fun 1 sided game on the other side, such as Twinbee, the original Super Mario Bros, or Ice Hockey.

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