It’s hard to believe that 30 years ago Nintendo released one of the most popular games of the Famicom in Japan. The sequel to the smash hit Super Mario Bros; The Lost Levels ramped up the difficulty of the game up to eleven. An interesting trivia regarding this title is that The Lost Levels was considered an expansion of the first game rather than a sequel for a game (making this the unofficial the very first expansion pack on a console). It was also in this game where Luigi and Mario finally became distinguishable from one another; the former could now jump higher and wouldn’t stop on a dime. The most interesting fact in regards to SMB: TLL is that it was never released in the United States as it was originally released. Instead we received the Doki Doki Panic! re-skin known in Japan as Super Mario USA.
The first time most gamers heard of this game was on the Super Nintendo game Super Mario All-Stars which included 4 games in the series including the The Lost Levels. As a 5-6 year old this game was impossible, to this day I still dread the idea of playing the game in spite of my increase in skills throughout the years. It was that hard, and it was at moments downright unfair. It was said by Howard Phillips that this game would have been too difficult for American players (which to Phillips meant it wasn’t fun) with the quote “not having fun is bad when you’re a company selling fun.”. But, this is in stark contrast to some of the games released in the console which we now dubbed “Nintendo Hard”. The NES library was packed with games that were unfairly difficult, and perhaps American players (especially older ones) would have preferred to see this game hit the western shores than the crazy game we called Super Mario Bros 2.
This is because the challenges present in The Lost Level include some of the most frustrating in gaming history. The Lost Levels have wind gusts which could alter your jump, poison mushrooms and the worst of all, warp-pipes which would take you back a few levels. This meant that you couldn’t realistically expect to beat the levels without some modicum of trial and error type gameplay. There is no realistic way to foresee a gust of wind affecting the Mario Brothers and before the remakes (on the NES and Wii etc.) the poison mushrooms were nearly indistinguishable from their regular counterparts. In essence it was the original Kaizo Mario, where the levels were challenging for the sake of making you break your system. I never finished this game and probably never will (if I wanted to go break my console I’d listen to Justin Bieber for an hour and it would still be less painful than this game). Yet, for those gamers who seek a challenge Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels is a jewel which should at least be played once.
As an added bit of interesting trivia regarding SMB: TLL it was released for Gameboy color via the game of Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. You had to unlock it first, but after accomplishing a specific task in the regular Super Mario Bros. You would unlock The Lost Levels for regular play minus extra bits of removed content such as the bonus levels.