Let’s say you’ve decided to play Super Mario Bros. 2. No, not that Super Mario Bros. 2— I mean the one over there, magically making people tear their hair just by glaring at them. You know the one I mean, though probably by another name: Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. Oh man, you’re already getting shivers. The Lost Levels? That even sounds enticing. It’s always great to play some obscure game, much less a Mario game, especially when it’s called something mysterious like The Lost Levels. You’ll just play right through those lost levels, smashing Goombas left and right, and then write up a quick blog post extolling the virtues of the game’s (and your own) gameplay. Am I right or am I right?
Wrong! I’m not right. At all. Because Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels isn’t something you want to do to yourself. Playing Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is something that the Jigsaw Killer from Saw would make people do, because they play around with their lives and they need to be played for once and it mirrors their mentalities and I really didn’t pay much attention to Saw.
But really. Before playing Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (read: letting Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels consume your will to live), you need to ask yourself a few questions. Namely: what’s wrong with you? Is it because you’ll get bragging rights? Because if that’s why, then I suggest you forget about that. Yes, yes, I know. In an age when trolls run willy-nilly discussing how they got the hidden Triforce in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, getting bragging rights in any way possible sounds like a huge deal, if not simply because it makes your peers fall to their knees in humiliation. Which is tempting. But in this particular case, it’s just not worth it. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels will make you weep– yes, even if your tear ducts are too hardcore for that. (In fact, it’ll probably make you weep harder.) And nothing is more frightening than a crying gamer. Except, of course, The Lost Levels.
What I’m trying to say is these levels are lost for a reason. Nintendo of America didn’t just pull a Final Fantasy II here, deciding that the game was too difficult for its audiences and leaving it for dead. No, Nintendo of America, in this early case, showed unusual common sense– these levels would kill just about any of the fledgling gamers just starting to hatch in 1985, and maim anyone who might want to try them twenty-five years later. What Nintendo of America did here was protect its people from precarious Poison Mushrooms and half-inch jumping platforms; waterborne Lakitus and landlubber Cheep Cheeps; fierce hurricanes and false Koopa Kings. These things sound harmless on paper (or on site), but in practice, it’s a wonder how Mario and Luigi managed to keep their lives for Super Mario Bros. 3. (They must have really, really wanted that Frog Suit.)
Any self-respecting gamer reading this, though, probably yearns for the kind of difficulty found in The Lost Levels, especially in an age where Cooking Mama praises gamers’ egg tarts every other second, prompting attempts in real life that don’t turn out nearly as Just-Like-Mama-esque. And I can’t stop anyone who wants to travel to The Lost Levels, just to prove that they’re The Very Best That No One Ever Was. So if that’s you, I say go for it! Screw Super Mario Galaxy 2; it’s all about the original Super Mario Bros. 2. But, if after too many retries of World 1, Stage 1, your heart rate is racing like a speed run of Super Metroid, maybe you should take a break. Because you’re going to want to finish at least the first World to get those all-important bragging rights. And if you wear your heart out now, even that fake Koopa King in World 8, Stage 4 will be laughing.
Admittedly, though, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is one of those games that you just can’t stay away from, for the life of you. (And it is for the life of you.) It’s just so enticing with its thrilling (if very derivative) gameplay. And you’re loathe to find an adrenaline rush as great as that from the first time you play each incredibly difficult level. But when it comes to actually being able to enjoy yourself on a consistent basis, without nearly killing yourself from stress, maybe you should find something else to play. Like Ghosts ‘n Goblins. I hear that one’s easy.