New details emerge about the strange history of Super Mario Bros. 2.
The notoriously difficult Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 nearly came to North America as a giveaway to Nintendo Power subscribers.
In his book, “Super Mario Bros. 2”, author Jon Irwin chronicles the sequence of events that led to the creation of two very different versions of Super Mario Bros. 2. Irwin interviewed Gail Tilden, former vice president of brand management at Nintendo of America and one of Nintendo Power’s founding editors, who revealed that she had spearheaded a campaign to give away the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 to Nintendo Power subscribers in 1991.
“We weren’t doing anything with it! [So] I worked up with my Nintendo Power agency a campaign called ‘The Lost Levels,’” Tilden told Irwin.
The original Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is infamous for its steep difficulty. Poisonous mushrooms, random gusts of wind, and warp zones that send Mario back to the start of the game were utilized to challenge players who had mastered the original Super Mario Bros.
According to Tilden, Nintendo produced a single NES cartridge of the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2, but ultimately nixed the promotion for fear of “confusing the marketplace.” Two years later, Nintendo released the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2, dubbed “The Lost Levels,” as part of Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo.
Tilden told Irwin that she was disappointed that the promotion never came to fruition, but noted that “it was really kind of a selfish desire to … help boost magazine subscriptions.” Nintendo Power ran a similar promotion in 1990, with copies of Dragon Warrior given to subscribers.
Tilden also revealed that it was Nintendo of America President Minoru Arakawa who requested that the Japanese game Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic be re-branded as Super Mario Bros. 2 in North America. Tilden said that Arakawa was worried that the difficulty of the original Super Mario Bros. 2 would ultimately harm Nintendo’s growing popularity in America.
The original version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is currently available on the Wii, Wii U and 3DS Virtual Consoles. Jon Irwin’s book, "Super Mario Bros. 2," will be released October 6, 2014 via Boss Fight Books.