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Game 11 of 52 - Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels - 17/02/24



So, next up on the All-Stars compilation is the rather...infamous sequel to the original Super Mario Bros - The Lost Levels, as it became known worldwide. 


I'm sure I don't need to really go into the full history of this game because most anyone who's knowledgeable about the Mario series knows the story. Back in the 80s, following the success of the original Super Mario Bros - the team heard complaints of people claiming the game was too easy, and as such - they set about making a sequel that would drive the game's difficulty up to eleven. As such, the original Super Mario Bros 2 simply became a copy of the original Super Mario Bros, same sprites, music, areas, and more, just with minor tweaks, and the level design taken to it's most outrageous extreme.

So when it came time to bring the game to other regions - outside a potential limited release to subscribers of Nintendo Power that was later decided against - Nintendo decided between the sheer ridiculous difficulty of the game, and the fact that it was basically a mission pack to the original Mario Bros that reused so much of it, it was decided to instead take another game by the Mario dev team, creating the more well-known (and frankly - well liked) Super Mario Bros 2: Mario Madness.

So, now with all that through, let's get onto the main show - how is the game?

Well. It's uh. It's bad. It's really bad. It's REALLY bad.

Like, I'm sorry but I don't really know how else to put it. To me, Super Mario Bros is a fine, but heavily dated game where Mario feels very heavy and somewhat unwieldy to control. So this game deciding to take that game's level design, and take it to such a utterly ludicrous degree. Pixel-perfect jumps where if you are even a fraction of a milisecond off, you're falling to your death. Castle stages where you have to deal with multiple bosses and enemies. Design that makes it that if you even slightly go too far right, you're basically soft-locked to your doom. 

Hell, from the very word go, you get just the perfect example of this game's absolute bullshit. Look no further than this utter piece of complete crap here:


Looks like a normal mushroom, correct? Well no - because if you couldn't tell by the slightly difference coloured shading on it, that is a poison mushroom - and that is the very first thing you find on the first stage, giving you the immediate telltale sign that this game is going to do everything it can to surprise you with constant death traps and use your knowledge of the first game against you. 

So much of the game follows suit with this. Warp zones that will spit you backwards if you stupidly decide to use one of the most well-known secrets of the time, and even to this day. Power ups that are designed to kill you because of your knowledge of the previous game. Mazes that are overtly convoluted. Death traps where it feels like death is utterly unavoidable. Put as bluntly as possible, you might as well get used to hearing this more than the game's soundtrack:

Even the game's requirements is so much ridiculous compared to the other games. Whereas Super Mario Bros wants you to just do a slightly harder second quest to get the true ending of the game - instead, this game - at least in it's original form - wants you to finish it eight times in order to unlock the second quest worlds. EIGHT. 

And that's not to mention the dickish ninth world that's specifically locked out for good if you're stupid enough to use a warp zone - not that the game even bothers to tell you about this small fact. Even better - on All-Stars (which is what I played) - while the requirements for the A-D worlds are gone, thankfully - if you use one warp zone - just one - the ninth world is PERMANENTLY locked out once and for all on that save file. No matter when or where you use it. 

With the original Super Mario Bros, I just felt a little tired by the time I got to the end of the game. It's a decent game, but it's basic and dated, so by the time you get to the second quest, you're just feeling like you're doing the same stuff repeatedly. With this game - it's downright miserable by the fourth world. There's plenty of games that should never have their level design stretched out to such a absurd degree when their gameplay can't handle it. Crash 4 being the best example I have - but Lost Levels is the OG prime example. If I felt utterly tired out with this game when using rewind on SNES Online, I cannot begin to imagine the poor souls who suffered through this on the original variants with no rewind or save states.

Lost Levels is a terrible game. Genuinely one of the worst I've played in the entire Mario series. I can get pretty frustrated and angry when it comes to playing difficult games. But Lost Levels is a game that genuinely feels like it was designed out of sheer spite and vindictiveness. With developers who sat wondering just how exactly they could make the game as unfun as possible. Wondering how they can do everything in their power to outright frustrate, annoy and anger their players as much as possible.


The biggest insult of all is this shit right here. You go through all of it - all of that misery and pain - for a win screen that is identical to the original game. Which makes it even more of a hateful game. Not only is it just such a annoying, aggravating time - but the game is so copy-paste and lazy with asset reuse that it's ultimately pointless. You go through one of the most horrible Mario experiences of all time just to get the same exact win screen as the original Super Mario Bros. If that 'World D-4' wasn't up there, you would have zero way of distinguishing this game with the original.

This game was infamous for decades for a reason, and it's reputation is well earned. Beyond well earned. It's also got the rep as a game Miyamoto also dislikes with this series, and I can't blame him whatsoever. Lost Levels is just a hateful game, and I never want to play it again. 

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