‘Super Mario Bros. 2′ Interview Reveals A Strange, Vertical-Only Prototype

Most gamers are familiar with the saga of the North American release for “Super Mario Bros. 2.” The game was originally released in Japan under the title “Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic” with a different cast of characters, a crew that was eventually re-skinned with Shigeru Miyamoto’s beloved characters when it came out here in the United States. A new interview with Kensuke Tanabe offers further insight into the development of the original game, and the key piece of advice that came down from Miyamoto which ultimately led to the bizarre release that we know as “Super Mario Bros. 2.”

“The idea was that you would have people vertically ascending, and you would have items and blocks that you could pile up to go higher, or you could grab your friend that you were playing with and throw them to try and continue to ascend,” Tanabe said of his original design in an interview with Game|Life. You can still see some of it at work in “SMB2,” both in the game’s stackable blocks and overall sense of verticality.

Unfortunately, Tanabe came to realize that “the vertical-scrolling gimmick wasn’t enough to get us interesting gameplay.” It’s a good thing then that his boss was Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto, who offered some instrumental advice that eventually went on to make gaming history.

“Miyamoto looked at it and said, ’Maybe we need to change this up,” Tanabe continued. He recalls the “Super Mario Bros.” creator telling him, “As long as it’s fun, anything goes.” Miyamoto suggested introducing an element of side-scrolling gameplay into the mix, to “make something a little more ’Mario’-like.”

You know what happens next. Tanabe did just that and the game eventually made its way here as “Super Mario Bros. 2,” by far the strangest (and yet entirely entertaining) entry in the series.