The Lost Levels: Ultimate Test of 2D Super Mario Bros Skill

My wife grew up with the original Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES and still enjoys playing the classics to this day. I also recently bought her New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS to give her some fresh 2D Mario action. However, she routinely plays through these platforming masterpieces in a relatively short amount of time with what I consider a small amount of effort.

Super Mario Bros The Lost Levels

As I was setting up emulation support on my Windows Media Center PC in the living room, I thought of a good challenge to give my wife while giving her a solid 2D Mario fix. I knew of the story behind Super Mario Bros. 2 and how we got a Mario-ized version of Doki-Doki Panic because the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was too challenging. Of course, the game was eventually released in the US as part of the Super Mario All-Stars compilation on the SNES.

I mentioned this background information to my wife and she was more than interested in giving it a try. Once she was barely into the first level, we knew the higher difficulty level that the game touted was not an exaggeration.

Note: Just as a fair warning, if you want to go into the game not knowing what to expect, you may want to skip reading this. I won’t go into too much detail since I don’t want to spoil the game for you, but I will touch on some aspects that make the game especially challenging.

Level Design Optimized For Difficulty

Super Mario Bros The Lost LevelsOn the surface The Lost Levels looks very much like the original Super Mario Bros. It includes very similar level designs, enemies, and powerups, but everything is arranged in such a way to drive you insane with frustration.

On almost every inch of every level it as if the level designers tried to think of every single way to make getting through past a screen as difficult as possible.

It isn’t enough to just have long jumps where you have to land on a single block or having multiple enemies flying at you from all directions. Instead you have all of these challenges and more taunting you at at the same time.

In comparison, to the original Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels, also included number of more complex elements that didn’t make their make American debut until Super Mario Bros 3, such as more advanced moving platforms and more detailed levels.

All The Enemies You Hate, Made Even Worse

As if the level layouts weren’t enough to pull your hair out over, Nintendo also gave the enemies a bit more bite.

  • Standard enemies such as Goombas and Koopa Troopas come in larger groups
  • Red Piranha Plants come out of their pipes even if the player is standing next to them.
  • There are also upside-down Piranha Plants that can be quite annoying.
  • There are Piranha plants that now come out of pipes that are flush with the ground, making it easier to overlook.
  • Blooper Fish float through the air very quickly and in large quantities.
  • And finally, multiple enemies groups seem to team up on you all at once: picture dodging attacks from Hammer Bros. while having Beetles raining down from the sky and Bullet Bills are shooting at you.

Power-Ups Come At A Premium

Gone are the days of finding a convenient block to give you a boost every now and then. Instead, your Mushrooms and Fire Flowers are guarded in tight spaces by the most obnoxious enemies or placed right by a pit so that the mushroom quickly falls into lava immediately after you hit its block.

If you do happen to find a convenient question-mark block that isn’t a coin, it usually contains a Poison Mushroom. These evil-looking mushrooms have the same effect as being touched by an enemy and are usually released in tight areas where you are surrounded by flying enemies and unable to escape quickly. How convenient.

Practice Your Jumping Skills

Large pits are plentiful in The Lost Levels and will give your jumping skills quite a workout. In fact, precision jumping is probably the most important skill needed to successfully play The Lost Levels. I was surprised to see that there are almost no jumps in the game that can be pulled off without a running start. Not only are some jumps very long, but many times you must also land on a very narrow spot, an area filled with enemies, a moving platform, or even a rapid succession of long jumps that you can’t take a stop between. At times you will also find that you need to time your jump just right so you can use a flying enemy as a stepping stone to your destination.

It is also worth mentioning that there are a number of places where you will experience some strong gusts of wind which blow intermittently. These winds can both be a help and an hindrance to Mario. They often must be used in order to make long jumps, but they also make controlling movement and staying on platforms more difficult.

Keep Looking For Hidden Blocks

Super Mario Bros The Lost LevelsI realize it is rather hard to “look” for hidden blocks, but many times throughout the game you will come to an area that seems even more impossible to cross than usual. In these cases, you probably need to hunt around for a hidden block. Once you’ve uncovered one, you can use them as a an intermediate jumping point before the main platform. This tactic is found in other Mario games, but the level designers exploited it much more in Lost Levels.

Sometimes, You Just Can’t Be Super

There are few spots, primarily in Koopa’s castles, that you will have to shrink yourself by being hit by an enemy in order to squeeze through an area. Of course, after this, you are especially vulnerable to later attacks and another mushroom isn’t usually available afterwards.

The Castles Are Repeat-ariffic!

One of the most annoying tricks in Mario games, in my opinion, is when the level starts looping until you go through the level a very specific way. The Lost Levels decides to make every other of Bowser’s castles play like this. Of course, the path you need to take to progress successfully is the most challenging.

Deceitful Warp Zones

In several different levels, Mario Brothers 2 doesn’t play fair. In the original Super Mario Brothers, finding a warp or a hidden secret was good. Yet leaping over the flagpole in Mario 2 might as easily warp you backwards to earlier levels instead of farther along to more advanced ones.

Bowsers Are Surprisingly Easy

I’ve never found most of the early Mario bosses to be very difficult, but I was expecting more from The Lost Levels. The first few iterations of Bowser are very straightforward if you a familiar with how to beat him in the original Mario Bros. Later levels have him flooding the screen with Hammer Bros-style projectiles, but with a little patience, they aren’t too much of an issue either. Getting to Bowser is much harder than actually defeating him.

A Frustratingly Fun Adventure

Sure Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels is downright difficult, but it’s also a load of fun if you have enough determination. Truth be told, my wife and I played all the way through it for the first time by using numerous emulator save states (just so we could see what it was like), but we hope to play though it again soon without cheating.

Unless you are Super Mario Bros. genius, you will die many, many times your first try, but if you play through it enough, you actually start to get a feel for it and pull off some amazing stunts.

Once you are seasoned in the game, you will master any 2D Mario game Nintendo throws at you. Think of it as Super Mario Boot Camp.

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fastbilly1 says:

The hardest part of Lost Levels is C-3. Jumppad, whirlwind, box, jumppad, whirlwind, etc.

Ramen Junkie says:

I’ve actually completed every level of this in order on that Mario All Stars game (on the SNES). That includes the bonus letter nammed worlds.

Dr.Zombie says:

I have such a blast whenever I play through this one. Definitely one of those games for masochistic players that enjoy things like the Ghosts N’ Goblins series. It’s like they applied the Kid Icarus philosophy of design to a Mario game: “Let’s torment the player in every possible way.” It’s a fun game of cat and mouse with the designers giving you knowing winks as you progress. They constantly predict how a seasoned Super Mario Bros. vet will react to certain situations and then pull the rug out from underneath you. *POSSIBLE SPOILER* For example, my favorite moment from this game is on one of the Bowser Castle levels. They throw out one of the typical repeating maze loops where you have to jump on the correct platforms in the perfect order before you’ll get the coin chime that lets you progress. After trying every possible combination, I ran straight forward through the entire level in frustration, knowing that the clock would soon run out and kill me. Ends up, that’s how you beat the stage. The designers knew they’d have you so conditioned by that point that you’d willingly waste your time jumping around in circles when you didn’t even have to. Brilliantly cruel and an excellent challenge.



Paul says:

Ironically, I actually beat lost levels before I was able to beat the original SMB. I could never get past level 8-3! Fortunately, my gaming skills have improved a bit over the years.

Vinny says:

Is a fun game, I just need some help, big time! How did you guys get past level 4-1? How do you get over the water that is after the spring board? Spring board is not getting me far enough for the jump. Is there a secret brick? Any tips would be great!

Thank you

racketboy says:

If I saw a screenshot, it might help me remember…

Vinny says:

Okay; you know a website where I could get one?

Vinny says:

Please, any help would be appreciated on how to get past this level; this is the level with the flying cloud throwing the Spiked Koopas. I just can’t get over the water pond. Is to far of a jump for me to make using that Springboard.

Any tips would be appreciated. Thank you.

racketboy says:

I THINK you might have to run to the VERY edge and time it just right, but if you had a picture/screenshot, it might help me remember more…

Vinny says:

Oh, okay. There is a row of Question Marked Boxes you can run on, but it is always just too far for me to make a run and jump. When I get on the Spring board, I can’t jump far enough.

Vinny says:

If you have the game handy, it is on level 4-1.

Frank says:

This may sound dumb but how in the hell do u get past the second set of hammer bros in world 8-3??? i figured its summer time nd i would just see if i can beat the lost levels. Iv beaten every other game on Super Mario All Stars but i cant seem to beat the lost levels.

thomas says:

Myself on 8-3 just let them live and ran under/over dodging hammers. Like I told my cousin one learns to play as small Mario quite well during this game! Unfortunately because I have to explore everything took one of the painful warp zones so will have to start from the beginning if I wish world 9!

Jesse Alan Long says:

I am just hoping that they publish the Famicom Disk Drive version of SMB2J on the Wii and if not, well, there will simply not be a no option for NCL or NOA, period

jessy says:

GAHHH!!! anyone know how i can get through the 4th castle!?!?!?
it is one of those repeating ones, and i can’t find the dang pattern!!!!

Vinny says:

jessy, at least you got to that castle, I am still trying to get through 4-1. You have any tips on how to jump over that pond with the springboard?

nahum says:

does anyone know how to beat castle number 7 it is very hard because it tricks u to go to da top and at the end u cant go down. and thers some spots were its to small can anyone help me out?

Tara says:

hey I cant get past 4-1 because I cant get past the water pit in the middle any advice would be appreciated! I have no idea how to get past it HELP!!!

Tara says:

Hey guys I figured out how to get over the water pit in 4-1! you have to run on the line of question mark bricks before the pit and then jump onto the right side of the spring board sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt you just have to keep trying!

Vinny says:

Thank you Tara!

Will try it the next time I get bored and want to pop in the game.

That level is tough.

dan says:

were on earth can i download this awesome gae!!! i cant get the original but were can i download it 4 PC?

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