by Marcus Estrada
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]o non-gaming fans, Super Mario Bros. 2 is just another one of those “Mario games” that have been popular since the 80s. But to those of us who know at least a little bit about video games, we know that the game North America received with the Super Mario Bros. name was actually released in Japan first as Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic – not a Mario title. This was done because the legitimate sequel to Super Mario Bros. was cruelly difficult. Presumably, it would be too hard for American fans. For most of us, that’s where the knowledge ends. Boss Fight Books’ most recent publication, Super Mario Bros. 2 by Jon Irwin, provides far more information on this interesting moment in gaming history.
Discovering why exactly Doki Doki Panic was made, by whom, and how it was selected to become a new Mario in the West is exciting to learn about. Seeing actual conversations with people from Nintendo at the time are unique as well, and something that you don’t get by reading online articles or Youtube videos about Super Mario Bros. 2. Although these events took place over 20 years ago, reading Jon’s account made everything feel present and relevant. In particular, it made me realize the similarities between this “false” Mario game and more recent adventures such as the New Super Mario Bros. series. No matter how American fans viewed the original games, Nintendo of Japan seems to have happily accepted Doki Doki Panic/Super Mario Bros. 2 as a part of its Mario franchise.
As with previous Boss Fight Book titles, Super Mario Bros. 2 does more than simply provide a historical timeline of what happened during the game’s development and eventual marketing. It also provides a small glimpse into the life of the author. After all, readers can’t help but wonder why this game in particular is as important as it is to the author. As readers learn more about the two games and Nintendo’s choices, they parallel important events that transpired in Jon’s life while writing. Some may dislike these personal reflections but I felt they served an intriguing narrative purpose.
Again, as with personal tastes, there were some aspects of writing that felt a little out of place. Certain jokes elicited annoyance rather than humor. Perhaps the weirdest aspect was early on when the author hammers hard on a fictional character’s ‘biological gender’ (apparently requiring a meaty footnote). Later, his tone changed and becomes (nearly) totally respectful about their gender identity. Although most readers will likely gloss over these sections without much care they bothered me enough to mull over their inclusion and presentation.
In all, Super Mario Bros. 2 by Jon Irwin proves to be a fascinating account of a moment in gaming’s past that most of us don’t know nearly about. Unfortunately, such a unique event might never again happen now that our world is so constantly connected online. What American players received as Super Mario Bros. 2 is a great game and it has long-deserved attention as more than an oddity. Jon’s book provides a heavy dose of information alongside an obvious affection for the classic platformer.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg” ] Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]