Game: Super Mario Bros. 2
System: NES
Release Date: 1987
Price: $44.95
Re-released In: Mario All-Stars; Super Mario Advance.

The American version of the sequel to the wildly popular original Super Mario Bros., was nothing like the Japanese one. While the Japanese got a continuation of the original game (released here in the states as "The Lost Levels" ten years later), American Mario nuts got a revamp of a Japanese game called Dream Factory. The existing game was stripped down, with the main characters replaced by Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad, and some of the settings and enemies were changed slightly to synch with the Mario universe. It was a radically different departure from the original game, and while usually this spells financial disaster for the company responsible, Mario 2 instead went on to be one of the most sought after Nintendo titles of all-time (Mario 3 still holds one of the top three spots).

Mario 2's story was a little surreal, but it worked. Supposedly, Mario went to bed one night and had a crazy dream. In it, he climbed a winding staircase, to find a door at the end of it. Upon opening the door, he discovered a whole new world. The goal of the game was to rescue these little creatures called Subcons, from the clutches of the evil Wart, a giant toad. Wart had imprisoned them, in order to bring about the end of the Dream World, and control the Subcons power.

Mario 2 is a must-play game. The control mechanics were sheer genius. True, it seemed to have nothing to do with Mario, but it did seem typical plumber fare after awhile. There were some changes however. You couldn't jump on the enemies anymore and squash them. Jumping on an enemy (non-spiked), would result in just standing on his head while he walked onwards. You could then jump off, or pick him up to hurl at another enemy. Which was the next biggest change. Hurling. Whether by ripping vegetables out of the ground, or picking up other enemies to use as weapons, the main line of attack in Mario 2 was simply tossing objects at enemies in order to knock them out. There weren't any power-ups other than the typical mushrooms, which made you grow to "Super" status, and the now standard Starman. A couple of extra items came in the forn of POW blocks, which could be thrown to create earthquakes, and Koopa shells, which could be used to ride over hazardous obstacles.

Mario 2 deserves to be in your collection, whether in cartridge form, or in the form of a ROM on your computer. It's simply one of the few old school games you will never tire of quickly. You can know every secret and item, and it's still fun to kill time, even now.