The History Of Super Mario Bros 2

Super Mario 2 came to Nintendo Switch Online in February 2019 and we want to celebrate the game.

Super Mario Bros 2 holds a special place in my heart as a game I played when I was a kid. I remember going to Dixons with my Dad in the late 80s and picking up a NES combo pack with Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt and a light gun. When Super Mario Bros 2 released I remember picking it up and sitting in front of our old Panasonic CRT TV until I completed it.

With that in mind and the fact it was released on Nintendo Switch Online in February, I put the poll out on Twitter for the first ever This Week In Video Games Game Guild. It’s like a book club for games – we all choose a game, play through what we can throughout the week and then share out thoughts and memories of the game.

History of the game

Super Mario Bros 2 is the second game in the Super Mario series and was originally released on the Nintendo Entertainment System on October 9th 1988.

Japan already had their own Super Mario 2 (otherwise known as Super Mario Bros: Lost Levels) and this game didn’t come to Japan until after Super Mario World on the SNES, making it Japan’s fifth Super Mario release.

Super Mario Bros: Lost Levels was deemed too difficult for Western audiences by Nintendo of America which led Nintendo to remake Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic into a Mario game, which is what we know as Super Mario Bros 2. After it’s release it became a huge hit and the game was eventually released in Japan.

Box art for Super Mario Bros 2

One of the main features that sets it apart from previous Super Mario games is that you can select Mario, Luigi, Toad or Princess before each level. Each character has unique abilities which offer advantages and disadvantages in their game play. Players also can’t defeat enemies by jumping on them as in original Super Mario Bros.


Mario has a dream of a staircase leading to another world called Subcon. A mysterious voice asks for Mario’s help to defeat the evil Wart – A tyrant frog who has cursed Subcon and all it’s people. Mario wakes up and tells the whole gang – Luigi, Princess and Toad. To Mario’s surprise they all say they’ve had the same dream.

Super Mario 2 title screen
Super Mario 2 title screen

They all decide to go on a picnic and where they discover a cave with a door. Upon entering the door they are all transported to Subcon turning their collective dreams into reality.

After they defeat Wart and free the people of Subcon Mario suddenly wakes up back in his bed. This leaves Mario confused as to if the events had been real or all just a dream.


Super Mario Bros 2 is based on Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic and therefore looks and behaves very differently to the original Super Mario Bros. In the first game the player would jump on enemies to defeat them, however in Super Mario Bros 2 you can pick vegetables out of the ground to throw at enemies or pick them up and throw them to kill them.

There’s a few power ups that are similar to Super Mario Bros including the mushroom and the star. One difference is you have a heart meter which collecting floating hearts replenishes energy. Super Mario 2 also doesn’t have power ups that change Mario into Super Mario such as the fire flower or suit Mario enabling him to fly. These were seen in Super Mario Bros in the form of a fire flower giving Mario the ability to shoot fireballs or the super leaf turning Mario into Racoon Mario in Super Mario Bros 3.

Super Mario 2
Shy Guys and Mario pulling up some turnips

At the start of each level you can choose a character from Mario, Luigi, Princess and Toad. Each character has their own unique abilities and play style.

There are seven worlds in the game. The first six worlds have 3 levels and the seventh world have 2 levels. At the end of each level you have to fight a boss.


Princess, Luigi, Mario & Toad


Mario has average stats and is a good all rounder for any situation.

Speed ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Luigi has a high jump, but he’s a little weaker than Mario.

Speed ⭐⭐⭐

Princess Toadstool

Princess Toadstool has a float jump, but is slow and not very powerful.

Speed ⭐⭐


Toad is the fastest and strongest, but he also has the worst jump of the group.

Speed ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Super Mario Bros 2 started life as a prototype mario-style platform game made by Kensuke Tanabe (recently brought back to develop Metroid Prime 4). The game focused on vertical levels and throwing items. The technical limitations of the NES didn’t allow for a polished finished product so more traditional mario-like elements were added to the game like horizontal scrolling.

The Fuji Television Company asked Tanabe to develop the prototype with the Yume Kojo mascots in mind and Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic was born.

Screenshot of the original Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic

In 1987 Nintendo of America saw the game and decided the original Super Mario Bros: Lost Levels was going to be too hard for western audiences. They then converted Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic into a Mario game and released the game in October 1988 under the name Super Mario Bros 2.


Many elements of Super Mario Bros 2 have been carried forward to other Mario games.

The ability to pick up and throw enemies was pioneered in this game and was carried forward to Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and more.

New Super Mario Bros builds on ideas from the original prototype including multiplayer elements allowing multiple characters to play on the same screen at the same time.

Characters from Super Mario Bros 2 have endured also with Birdo, Bob-ombs and Shy Guys making it into other Mario games. This was the first game with Toad and Princess Toadstool as playable characters and they have gone in to appear in Super Mario Kart, Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker, Super Princess Peach and Super Smash Brothers.


Super Mario Bros 2 sold 10 million copies and was the third highest selling game of the time on the NES. Nintendo Power listed it as the 8th best NES game of all time.

Super Mario 2 is available to buy for various Nintendo systems including NES Classic, Nintendo Switch Online and Wii U Store.