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Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels review

The hardest Mario game ever heads to handheld

We've covered the story of Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels in past issues of ONM, but for anyone new to the game here's a brief recap: after the success of Super Mario Bros. Nintendo got to work on a sequel, using the same game engine as before, but crafting much harder levels for the Japanese fans crying to have their newly found Mario prowess put to the test.

When it came to releasing the game in the west, Nintendo Of America deemed this Japanese iteration of Super Mario Bros. 2 too difficult, leading to a different version (the vegetable-chucking oddity, Super Mario Bros 2) being released in America and Europe. The Lost Levels, then, is the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros 2, a game Nintendo of America thinks you're too wussy to play. And after just an hour of it, we'll concede Nintendo had a point.

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Though it looks nearly identical to the original Super Mario Bros. and uses the same music, The Lost Levels adds plenty of mechanics, such as the ability to choose either Mario or Luigi from the start. Not only was this the first time the Other Brother featured in a single-player Mario game, it also marked the first instance of Luigi having a markedly different 'feel' to Mario, with higher jumps and a far slippier running style.

Cruel Intentions

But before we kneel to kiss Miyamoto's boots for this burst of generosity, know that Luigi is one of the few additions to the game that actually benefit you in any way. Most of the others are designed purely to irritate, upset, disturb and make you sit back in your La-Z-Boy, mouth agape, wincing at the rank injustice of it all.

The punishment begins immediately: the first mushroom in the game - a Mario tradition that teaches the player how Mario grows when he eats one - is a Poison Mushroom, killing Mario instantly. This is just the first (and simplest) of a series of tricks Nintendo places throughout the game to stump those who mastered the original. It's as if they're judging you for adhering to Mario logic - unthinkable in this modern age of Super Guides and P-Acorns.

One stage has a variety of huge jumps and springboards that fling Mario off the top of the screen for a few seconds, making it difficult to judge the landing. Another introduces wind to make jumps much trickier, while a fake Bowser appears halfway through a castle stage. And don't get us started on World 3-1's warp zone. Found by leaping over the flagpole, you're lured into thinking you've caught a break, a rare silver lining on this perpetual rain cloud. Then you bloop down the pipe and find yourself back in World 1. What kind of monster does that to a gamer?

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Not everyone will enjoy The Lost Levels. While it uses the graphics and physics engines of the near-perfect Super Mario Bros, the increased difficulty will only infuriate gamers unaccustomed to the days of replaying games over and again until they're mastered.

Anyone who's up for a challenge, however, and feels like taking on what we reckon remains the hardest Mario game, should dive in and face the punishment. You might gnaw your hands off at the near-impossibleness of it all, but once you manage it (er, using the replacement fingers you crafted from sellotape and Wotsits) saving the princess will never have been so satisfying.

Comments

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  1. Dark nemisis Wednesday 27th Feb 2013 at 11:40

    one of my favourite games! So glad we did get this in the end. Great to play at a party:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Super-Mario-All ... B004AE1V6O
    Will be hooked on this on my weekend off with my awesome SNES-Wii controller :D
    Brings back memories

  2. fluggy2003 Wednesday 27th Feb 2013 at 11:45

    Really??? Better than Assassin's Creed 3 and Darksiders 2 and equally as good as Mass Effect 3??!!? That's just nonsense!!! Good way to review this would be to promise your son Mass Effect 3 for his birthday ... Then instead give him Mario Lost Levels with the excuse "its a fraction of the cost and ONM say its just as good." .... Its not and you wont be forgiven in a hurry. Its a stale, relic from yesteryear and when reviewed again by todays standards (as it should be) its a boring, dull looking dinosaur that no kid would invest more than 5 mins play playtime!!!! If this was released today by another company without mario it would get 20-30%!

  3. lminett Wednesday 27th Feb 2013 at 11:56

    Really??? Better than Assassin's Creed 3 and Darksiders 2 and equally as good as Mass Effect 3??!!? That's just nonsense!!! Good way to review this would be to promise your son Mass Effect 3 for his birthday ... Then instead give him Mario Lost Levels with the excuse "its a fraction of the cost and ONM say its just as good." .... Its not and you wont be forgiven in a hurry. Its a stale, relic from yesteryear and when reviewed again by todays standards (as it should be) its a boring, dull looking dinosaur that no kid would invest more than 5 mins play playtime!!!! If this was released today by another company without mario it would get 20-30%!

    What are you talking about? Many games do hold up their appeal even today. There are so many Indie devs currently making 8 bit games for various platforms, why? because people do enjoy 8 bit games as well as the realistic games. If you look at what makes this game good, solid platforming, simple gameplay, catchy music and the way mario handles, it all adds up to a good gaming experience. Its not my favorite mario game but it still fun to play.

  4. MatthewONM Wednesday 27th Feb 2013 at 12:20

    Really??? Better than Assassin's Creed 3 and Darksiders 2 and equally as good as Mass Effect 3??!!? That's just nonsense!!! Good way to review this would be to promise your son Mass Effect 3 for his birthday ... Then instead give him Mario Lost Levels with the excuse "its a fraction of the cost and ONM say its just as good." .... Its not and you wont be forgiven in a hurry. Its a stale, relic from yesteryear and when reviewed again by todays standards (as it should be) its a boring, dull looking dinosaur that no kid would invest more than 5 mins play playtime!!!! If this was released today by another company without mario it would get 20-30%!


    This is meant to be satirical, right? Because no one in their right mind could think that we were comparing a 1980s platformer to a 2012 open world assassin sim. That would be an insane thing to think, right?

  5. jaco_p Wednesday 27th Feb 2013 at 14:19

    Really??? Better than Assassin's Creed 3 and Darksiders 2 and equally as good as Mass Effect 3??!!? That's just nonsense!!! Good way to review this would be to promise your son Mass Effect 3 for his birthday ... Then instead give him Mario Lost Levels with the excuse "its a fraction of the cost and ONM say its just as good." .... Its not and you wont be forgiven in a hurry. Its a stale, relic from yesteryear and when reviewed again by todays standards (as it should be) its a boring, dull looking dinosaur that no kid would invest more than 5 mins play playtime!!!! If this was released today by another company without mario it would get 20-30%!

    I'm sorry but you don't know what you're talking about. You can't compare games across genres, it doesn't work. Oh, and guess what, a company called TEAM MEAT did release a game similiar to mario bros a few years back and it was praised almost unanimously, it was Super Meat Boy

  6. CaptainSnivy Wednesday 27th Feb 2013 at 16:35

    I finished this on All Stars on the Wii last year, and the difficulty made me crazy. Literally.

  7. fluggy2003 Wednesday 27th Feb 2013 at 17:12

    [
    I'm sorry but you don't know what you're talking about. You can't compare games across genres, it doesn't work. Oh, and guess what, a company called TEAM MEAT did release a game similiar to mario bros a few years back and it was praised almost unanimously, it was Super Meat Boy

    Your talking utter drivel. Every game site I look at has a "best game ever" section that compares "across genres"!!! Onm's best game ever was, surprise, Super Mario Bros!! Now everyone KNOWS its NOT even in the top 100! Apart from the obvious comparison to Mario 3 and World (which are both infinitely superior and every publication I read back in the day said that 2), any other acclaimed game, be it from ninety (Zelda, metroid,galaxy), ps3 (god of war, uncharted, dead space), Xbox (halo, gears of war) are also vastly superior. My point is this.... This isn't a review from 20 years ago. This is getting released NOW on a new platform. People are going to buy it based on this review, NOT through rose tinted specs. As an experiment I FORCED my Nephew and Niece to play this today, they absolutely hated it. By all means say its maybe the MOST INFLUENTIAL game, but by today's standards, which it should be reviewed by, it just doesn't measure up.

  8. alexkinch Wednesday 27th Feb 2013 at 17:20

    I would love to get the chance to play doki doki panic for a change.

  9. Waldy565 Wednesday 27th Feb 2013 at 18:17

    Yea, I seem to remember playing this, but like, 5 mins of it. Not to the difficultly, just because I, err, dunno, so was excited when this was announced. I get my paycheck tomorrow, so I may download this. Until then, I think I'll go play a little of the original Super Mario Bros. Wahoo! (thank you, thank you :P)

  10. Gordon Ramsey Thursday 28th Feb 2013 at 08:49

    I bought this game about 1 month ago but I made a pact and said I will save the game after each level I complete. I finally compleated it after a day and half and it was an enjoyable challenge. 80%

  11. justthetrick.tm Thursday 28th Feb 2013 at 11:39

    Those that say that great games of yesterday-year wouldn't hold up today need to hand in their "Gamer" badge. A good game is a good game is a good game. If you're all about style over substance then in comparison Mario 2:lost levels sucks indeed. Thought a lot of us have learnt that it's not all about looks... But I guess not

  12. liveswired Thursday 28th Feb 2013 at 20:35

    Really??? Better than Assassin's Creed 3 and Darksiders 2 and equally as good as Mass Effect 3??!!? That's just nonsense!!! Good way to review this would be to promise your son Mass Effect 3 for his birthday ... Then instead give him Mario Lost Levels with the excuse "its a fraction of the cost and ONM say its just as good." .... Its not and you wont be forgiven in a hurry. Its a stale, relic from yesteryear and when reviewed again by todays standards (as it should be) its a boring, dull looking dinosaur that no kid would invest more than 5 mins play playtime!!!! If this was released today by another company without mario it would get 20-30%!

    There's always one! :roll: :lol:

  13. K-tet Sunday 3rd Mar 2013 at 12:55

    Those that played this game as part of Super Mario All Stars, you do realise it's easier? I've played all three iterations of the game (by three I'm including the Super Mario Bros: Deluxe GBC version too) and trust me, the Famicom version is ridiculously anal. The GBC version is worse still only because of the obscured camera.

    You know, when they say a game is "F***-off Nintendo Hard", they weren't joking, and these are the types of games that make you ragequit so hard because they're designed to crank the difficulty level to overdrive and beyond. Other games that are just as ragequit worthy for those that don't have such patience also include the likes of Megaman II and Battletoads. If your only experience on The Lost Levels is the SMAS version, boy you've had it easy. Pick up a Famicom and play this on its original intended hardware, and good luck to you. \o/

    This is a classic. If you like your games jacked up with that F-off Nintendo Hard feeling, grab it and pander to your inner masochism.

    80% is a fair score.

  14. wilrc6 Monday 4th Mar 2013 at 17:30

    If I can remember rightly the Lost Levels wasnt released in Europe on the NES. It was part of the upgraded All Stars package. So you are actually playing the original japanese version. I downloaded this on Wii a few years ago as part of the Hanabi Festival and although its advertised as the 'Lost Levels', the title screen actually says Super Mario Bros. 2

  15. alinktodapast Tuesday 30th Apr 2013 at 06:34

    they were not that hard :?: :arrow:

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