As I mentioned in a previous article, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is the direct sequel to the original SMB. This game, however, was only released in Japan; Nintendo thought it was too hard for America, and so they took a game called Doki Doki Panic, changed all the graphics so it was Mario-esque, and released it in America as Super Mario Bros. 2. That is why this game is nothing like a regular Mario game.
The story is that a giant frog named Wart has taken over the Mushroom Kingdom, and that you, as Mario, Luigi, Toad, and/or Peach, must save it.
Before you begin each level, you pick a character. Mario doesn’t do anything special; Luigi can flutter-jump extra high, Toad picks up and throws objects quicker (more on that later), and Peach can glide in the air using her umbrella by holding the jump button.
The buttons do their usual: B runs, and A jumps, but how you defeat enemies is different. Instead of jumping and smushing them, you can press B to pick up roots on the ground and throw vegetables at them, or you can jump on top of any enemy, pick it up, and throw it into another or a chasm. This throwing mechanic is also how you defeat Birdo (the “boss” of the regular levels), and the world bosses: you throw their projectiles back at them.
As far as health goes, you have two hearts at the side of the screen that represent health points. You can get a third heart for the level by picking up and throwing a potion that creates a door, entering that door by pressing Up, and going into a weird shadow-world where, depending on the terrain, you can access a mushroom. If you lose all your health, you die and restart at the nearest checkpoint with one fewer life; if you lose all your lives, you can use one of two continues to restart the world, and if you lose all of those it’s “game over.” This structure makes SMB2 harder than both its predecessor and its successor: in the original you can hold A at the Game Over screen to restart the world infinitely, and in 3 you just get infinite “continues. As for regaining health, you can get more hearts by collecting the occasional heart that comes up from below the screen; you can get lives by rooting up a rare 1-Up, or by using coins you get by pulling up roots in the shadow-world at a slot machine at the end of a level.
The level structure is somewhat similar to the original; there are seven worlds, each with three levels apiece (except for one; I don’t know which since I’ve never beaten World 1), each of which has a theme (snow, desert, etc.). The levels are usually side-scrolling, though there are some vertical-scrolling pieces which have a wrap-around effect on the sides. The levels also include jars, some of which you can descend into; in some special cases entering these jars in the shadow world takes you to a Warp Zone (there’s one in 1-3, supposedly).
The graphics are pretty good, albeit different than the other Mario games, and the music is completely different (with the exception of the fact that the main Super Mario Bros. theme is played in the shadow-world).
Finally, we come to the question of how to get this game. It is available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, though I don’t know if it’s on the Wii U’s. You can also buy the original NES cartridge (if you can play it), or just buy Super Mario All-Stars, which also lets you play Lost Levels. Enjoy, and happy gaming!