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Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

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Title: Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels  
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Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

Japanese cover art

Developer(s) Nintendo R&D4
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Designer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto[1]
Composer(s) Koji Kondo
Series Super Mario
Platform(s) Famicom Disk System
Release date(s) JP 19860603June 3, 1986
Genre(s) Platform, action
Mode(s) Single-player

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is a 1986 side-scrolling, platformer action game developed and published by Nintendo as the sequel to the 1985 Super Mario Bros. The games are similar in style and gameplay apart from a large increase in difficulty. Like the original, Mario or Luigi venture to rescue the Princess from Bowser. Unlike the original, the game has no two-player option and Luigi is differentiated from his twin plumber brother by having less ground friction and higher jump height. The Lost Levels also introduces setbacks like poison mushroom power-ups, counterproductive level warps, and mid-air wind gusts. The game has 32 levels across eight worlds, and five bonus worlds.

The Lost Levels was first released in Japan for the Famicom Disk System as Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japanese: スーパーマリオブラザーズ 2) on June 3, 1986, following the success of its predecessor. It was developed by Nintendo R&D4, the team led by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Nintendo of America considered the game too difficult to sell in North America and instead sold a retrofitted version of Japanese game Doki Doki Panic as its Super Mario Bros. 2. The game was not released in North America until its inclusion on the 1993 Super Nintendo Entertainment System compilation Super Mario All-Stars. It was later ported to the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Virtual Console (Wii, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U).

The game is known for its intense difficulty. Reviewers characterized the game as an extension of the original release, continuing the difficulty progression of its forebear. In this way, some recommended the The Lost Levels for those who mastered the original. Video game journalists appreciated the game's challenge in a speedrunning context. The game gave Luigi his first character traits and introduced the poison mushroom power-up, which would be used throughout the Mario franchise. The Lost Levels was the most popular game on the Famicom Disk System, for which it sold about 2.5 million copies. In 2014, IGN ranked the game among the bottom of its top 125 Nintendo games later a sequel call Super Mario Bros 3 was released in 1988 later 1990.


  • Gameplay 1
  • Development 2
  • Rereleases 3
  • Reception and legacy 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Screenshot of gameplay from the 1986 Japanese release, showing a poison mushroom

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is a side-scrolling, platformer action game similar in style and gameplay to the original 1985 Super Mario Bros., save for an increase in difficulty.[2][3][4][5] As in the original, Mario (or Luigi) venture to rescue the Princess from Bowser.[4] The player jumps between platforms, avoids enemy and inanimate obstacles, finds hidden secrets (like the warp zone and vertical vines), and collects power-ups like the Mushroom (which makes Mario grow), the Fire Flower (which lets Mario throw fireballs), and the Invincibility Star.[2] Unlike the original, there is no two-player mode[6] and the player chooses between the twin plumbers, who are differentiated for the first time, at the title screen. Luigi, designed for skilled players, has less ground friction and higher jump height.[2] Mario is faster.[6]

The game's difficulty picks up from near the end of the original and progressively increases.[2] The Lost Levels introduces annoyances including poison mushrooms, level warps that set the player farther back in the game, and wind gusts that redirect the player's course mid-air. Some of the game's levels require "split-second" precision.[3] There were also some graphical changes,[5][7] though the soundtrack is identical.[2] After each boss fight, Toad tells Mario that "our princess is in another castle!"[3] The main game has 32 levels[1] across eight worlds and five bonus worlds. A hidden World 9 is accessible if the player does not use a warp zone. Bonus worlds A through D are accessible when the player plays through the game eight times, for a total of 52 levels.[2]


In October 1985, the original Super Mario Bros. was released in North America and sold tens of millions of Nintendo Entertainment System (Famicom in Japan) video game consoles by February 1986, signaling the end of the video game crash of 1983.[8] Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, now led Nintendo's R&D4 division, which was working on The Legend of Zelda, and no longer had time to design games completely by himself.[3] Takashi Tezuka, the assistant director of Super Mario Bros., joined Miyamoto to develop a sequel to the game[9][10] with the R&D4 team.[2]

The Lost Levels, originally released in Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2[4] on June 3, 1986, was similar in style to Super Mario Bros. but much more difficult in gameplay; Jon Irwin in his book Super Mario Bros. 2 described it as "nails-from-diamonds hard".[10] Tezuka felt that Japanese players had mastered the original game, and so needed a more challenging game to follow it up. Commercials for The Lost Levels in Japan featured players failing at the game and screaming in frustration at their television.[10] Some of the later levels of the game came from Vs. Super Mario Bros., an arcade port of the original.[3] After Zelda, The Lost Levels was the second release for on the Famicom Disk System, an add-on external disk drive with more spacious and less expensive disks than the Famicom cartridges.[3]

When The Lost Levels was evaluated for release outside of Japan, it was declined by Nintendo of America, which considered the game too difficult for North America.[3][11] Howard Phillips, who evaluated games for the president of Nintendo of America, felt that the game was unfairly difficult, even beyond the unofficial moniker of "Nintendo Hard" that the company's other games sometimes garnered.[10] He felt that it would not sell well in the American market.[9][10] In a 2012 interview, he said that "few games were more stymieing than Super Mario 2 on Famicom" and that "not having fun is bad when you're a company selling fun."[10]

Nintendo instead released a retrofitted version of Doki Doki Panic as its Super Mario Bros. 2 outside of Japan.[12] Doki Doki Panic had originally been developed by Miyamoto and Kensuke Tanabe as a modified take on a Super Mario Bros. game before it was released in Japan as a stand-alone game as part of a collaboration with Fuji Television.[13] Miyamoto spent more time on Doki Doki Panic than on The Lost Levels.[3] Doki Doki Panic‍ '​s characters and artwork were modified to match Super Mario Bros. before being released in America, and the re-skinned release became known as the "big aberration" in the Super Mario series.[3] The American Super Mario Bros. 2 was later released in Japan as Super Mario USA.[12]


The Lost Levels was the second game released for the Famicom Disk System (attached below the Famicom, as pictured)

Nintendo "cleaned up" parts of the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 and released it in later Super Mario collections as The Lost Levels.[3] It was first released in North America in the 1993 Super Mario All-Stars collection for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.[4] All-Stars was rereleased as a Limited Edition for the Nintendo Wii console in remembrance of Super Mario Bros.‍‍ '​‍s 25th anniversary in 2010.[12] It was also ported to other platforms.[4] The All-Stars version made the poison mushroom more visible and added a "do-over" feature.[6]

The Lost Levels is an unlockable bonus in the 1999 Game Boy Color game Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. The game was edited for the handheld device: the visible screen is cropped, features such as wind and the five bonus worlds are omitted. Challenge modes are added.[14][15] The Lost Levels was rereleased in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance on the third volume of Nintendo's Japan-only Famicom Mini compilation cartridges.[16]

Nintendo's digital Virtual Console platform brought the unedited 1986 Japanese gameplay to North America for the first time.[2][6] The Lost Levels was released for Nintendo's Wii Virtual Console digital platform in Japan on May 1, 2007, in Europe on September 14 (as part of Nintendo's Hanabi Festival[6]), and in North America on October 1. The 3DS version released July 25, 2012,[17] and then simultaneously in North America, Australia, and the United Kingdom on December 27.[2] The Wii U Virtual Console release came to Japan on August 8, 2013, to Europe on January 23, 2014, and to North America on March 13.[17] The Lost Levels were also included in Nintendo classic game compilations including the 2014 NES Remix 2 (Wii U)[18] and Ultimate NES Remix (3DS).[19]

Reception and legacy

Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer Wii: 8/10[6]
GameSpot Wii: 6.5/10[20]
IGN 3DS: 8.5/10[2]
Nintendo Life Wii U: 8/10[17]

Famicom Tsūshin named The Lost Levels as their number one game in the first month after its release.[10] Critics characterized the game as an "expansion pack"[2] or "update" to the original.[1][5][6] IGN's Lucas M. Thomas wrote that, apart from Luigi, the game feels like extra challenge levels tacked onto the end of the original. He agreed with Nintendo of America's choice to not release the game in the 1980s.[2]

The Lost Levels is known for its intense difficulty.[17] IGN's Rus McLaughlin wrote that the original's "smooth level designs were replaced by insanely tough obstacle courses".[3] IGN's Marty Silva said the game was "made to actively punish players ... from the first poison mushroom".[21] IGN's Thomas referred to the levels as "frustratingly" hard, and the player-character friction as "cramped" and "crippled" with either character.[2] He compared the game to the subculture built around creating their own modified and nearly impossible Mario levels, and said The Lost Levels felt like "a fan-made hack" in comparison to other Mario games.[2] Atari HQ wrote that the original would not have sold "half as much" had it included levels from this sequel.[1]

Nintendo Life‍‍ '​‍s Robert Hughes recommended the game for those who mastered the original game, with level design that designed for frustration. He felt the sequel taught patience where the original was designed for recklessness. He remembered the game as the black sheep of the All-Stars collection, but still found the game "fiendishly clever" and fun.[17] Likewise, Eurogamer‍‍ '​‍s Dan Whitehead wrote that the game was "technically a much better game" than the Doki Doki-based Super Mario Bros. 2, and that "Mario purists" would prefer having the real challenge.[6] Jason Schreier of Kotaku wrote in 2015 that speedruns of The Lost Levels were "remarkably fun" to spectate, due to their demanding precision.[11] IGN's Samuel Claiborn felt that the 2014 NES Remix 2 Wii U compilation for the Wii U made The Lost Levels‍ '​ challenges more enjoyable when put in a speedrunning context.[18]

Luigi received his "first distinctive character traits" in The Lost Levels: less ground friction, and the ability to jump farther.[3] The game's poison mushroom power-up features in later Mario franchise games, including Super Mario 3D Land.[22] Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time,[23] and the Super Smash Bros.[24] and Mario Kart series,[25] as well as in the Wii U version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2.[26]

The Lost Levels was the most popular game on the Famicom Disk System, for which it sold about 2.5 million copies.[1] In 2014, IGN ranked the game among the bottom of its top 125 Nintendo games.[21]


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External links

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