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The Untold Truth Of Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels

Super Mario is an icon of video game history that changed gaming forever. Practically everyone had a copy of Super Mario Bros. for their Nintendo Entertainment System — not just because it was a common pack-in game, but because it was a must-have title for the console. It's a timeless classic that has been re-released so many times over the last 35 years, with the latest port coming in the form of a commemorative Game & Watch for Mario's 35th anniversary. Of course, the original Super Mario Bros. wasn't the only game included on the device.

The seldom discussed true sequel, Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, stepped out of obscurity in the west when the original Super Mario All-Stars launched. With its inclusion on the new Game & Watch device, some gamers may get their first glimpse at this forgotten piece of Mario history. What happened to the Lost Levels? Why didn't it come to the States? Here is the story behind the original sequel to Super Mario Bros.

Why were these levels lost in the west?

Super Mario Bros. was such a smash hit that Nintendo was eager to quickly capitalize on its success. As such, a sequel was made that was nearly identical to the original, with some minor background sprite updates and a difficulty curve turned up to 11. The game was, of course, deemed too difficult and too similar for U.S. gamers, and thus the States received a different Super Mario Bros. 2.

Even though Nintendo fans in America wouldn't see this game until years later, it marked several firsts. It was the first appearance of the poison mushroom, the first time Luigi had unique handling, it was the first time you could choose Luigi over Mario in single-player, and it introduced bonus worlds into the Mario franchise

Interestingly enough, while it's one of the more obscure titles in the States, the original Super Mario Bros. 2 was still a smash hit in Japan, selling approximately 2.5 million copies in its original run.

Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels was born from an arcade port

The Lost Levels wasn't the only title in the series that looked near-identical to the classic NES game. Before Super Mario Bros. received its first sequel, Vs. Super Mario Bros. came out as an arcade port of the original. The arcade version was closer in resemblance to the home cartridge, but it had some unique stages that were mercilessly challenging.

As the team worked on this souped-up version, they saw potential in a harder Mario game. From that, they wanted to design a new Mario for gamers who had mastered the first, and thus work began on Mario's first sequel.

The true sequel to Super Mario Bros. actually took some levels from Vs. Super Mario Bros. In a way, Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels was both a product of and sequel to both the NES game and the arcade port. However, Vs. Super Mario Bros. did make it to the states during its original run. Perhaps because of this, the Japanese sequel has outshined the Vs. machine, with many contributions to the Mario series as a whole.