Many of you know the story of the black sheep that is Super Mario Bros. 2. If you don’t, here it is in full: Originally in Japan a sequel to Super Mario Bros. was released to appease the Mario fanatics that were sprouting up everywhere. This game was essentially a cruel and beefed up version of the original Super Mario Bros. with some new and tweaked levels and new hazards. Otherwise it looked and played nearly the same as the first. This game wasn’t brought stateside initially. Rumor has it Nintendo thought it would be too difficult for American players and its huge similarities to the previous game would make it a poor seller. For whatever reason Nintendo thought of a brilliant way to bring a Japanese game to Americans and appease their need for a sequel to the smash hit Super Mario Bros. Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic (Dream Factory: Heart Pounding Panic) was made to promote Fuji TV a Japanese broadcasting company and one of the game’s designers and producer just so happened to be Mr. Mario himself Shigeru Miyamoto. He himself brought in Mario elements such as coins, POW blocks, warp zones, and ‘pipes’ to Doki Doki Panic. This game would be repackaged: the main characters Mama, Papa, Lina, and Imajin replaced with Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Toadstool. The cultural references would be censored as per Nintendo policy, and the story changed to fit the new characters. The enemies, levels, music, everything was the same as Doki Doki Panic. In fact the composer of the game’s soundtrack, Koji Kondo, previously worked on Super Mario Bros. so the music is easily transitioned into the Mario universe as well as several elements of Doki Doki Panic. To us Americans it seems as though all of this was originally planned for Mario, but all of these elements were originally from Doki Doki Panic. To avoid prattling on about the history, let’s jump into the Top Ten Mario Elements Borrowed from Doki Doki Panic.

Koji Kondo is likely the biggest musical genius in the videogame industry. Say what you want no videogame theme has had a bigger impact than Super Mario Bros. Overworld Theme or The Legend of Zelda Theme. So his compositions take the tenth spot but not any higher due to the fact that most of the songs are played very little in the rest of the Mario series. They show up here and there but they’re not as important as the other elements on the list.

#9: Toad

The race of mushroom people had already been established in the first Super Mario Bros. where they were known as Mushroom Retainers. With its sequel the character Toad appeared. He stands out among his race of look alikes as his own person, sort of. He would go on to be the protagonist of another oddball Mario game Wario’s Woods and is popular enough to continually appear in the Mario spinoffs as a playable character. Even when this particular Toad isn’t playable other Toad’s appear, often with different colored spots on their mushroom caps.

#8: Health

This seems sort of obvious to have in a videogame but for Mario it was one hit and bam you lost your power-up, another and it was game over. A previous Mario element, mushrooms, would give your character health and allow them to take up to four hits from enemies. The health system wouldn’t be implemented again in a Mario sidescroller but the 3D games all have a health meter of some kind, opting away from the challenging one-hit-and-you’re-penalized system.

#7: Ninji

Ninji are dark, jumping stars that harassed Mario and Co. by running and jumping in an annoying pattern. I find it strange that these ninja-inspired enemies haven’t been used more often. They show up in Super Mario World, the RPGs, and that’s about it. Someone at Nintendo at least liked them enough to keep their legacy going, but they’re nothing compared to some of the other baddies from Subcon that would find a solid residence in Mario’s universe.

#6: Birdo

Birdo has as confusing a backstory of almost any videogame character. Is it a he? A she? A hermaphrodite? Whatever it is it’s here to stay. Birdo originally was a boss from Super Mario Bros. 2 and is the first you encounter, giving a face to the new breed of enemies in Subcon. From her gaping jowls she spit either fireballs or eggs which could be used to fight back. Birdo’s second appearance after Super Mario Bros. 2 was in Wario’s Woods, Toad’s one and only solo adventure. Here it was a force of good, but would later be an enemy in Mario RPG and later titles. Nowadays Birdo has become its own character much like Dry Bones and Yoshi and appears in Mario Kart, Mario Sports, and Mario Party, often alongside Yoshi. How that relationship works is a mystery.

Although this mechanic doesn’t always work as it does in Super Mario Bros. 2, Mario has since been able to toss items and enemies to defeat them. This is added to his repertoire that is constantly expanding to include various jumps, punches, kicks, pounds, spins and power-ups. I still remember my surprise when I jumped on my first Shy Guy in Super Mario Bros. 2 and have Mario stand helplessly riding on the back of the little guy. To bend down and pluck the enemies up changed the way you played and although it hasn’t been the main method of attack in any Mario game since, it has stuck around.

Princess Peach has been in almost every Mario game, and usually she’s just a side character or a damsel in distress. Here she gets to show off her unique ability to hover. It instantly made her a favourite among players because of her creative handicap she had over the others. While this ability has really seen its place in Smash Bros. another one given to the other characters is now seen as a characteristic for Peach herself: plucking vegetables, specifically turnips, from the ground and using them as weapons. This is Peach’s Down+B attack in Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl.

Believe it or not Luigi was once a total clone of his brother. It wasn’t until this game that Luigi got his distinctive flutter jump and tall, lanky build. All because Nintendo chose to replace the right character with Luigi who could have easily controlled like Toad instead. Well these characteristics disappeared in Mario Bros. 3 but would reappear later on in the Mario series and have now made Luigi much more unique in comparison to his brother.

These guys have permeated into the Mario series almost as much as the Bob-ombs. Maybe they don’t appear in as many games, but their character and variations make them a fun part of the series; especially in the RPGs and the Yoshi games where they are a constant threat to Yoshi. They were the ‘Goomba’ of Super Mario Bros. 2 and have been featured in dozens of games after. I lump Snifits in with Shy Guys since they are basically the same creature, Snifits just have the ability to fire projectiles as opposed to blindly run at Mario.

Such a Mario staple and they weren’t even created for Mario! Though they look a little different now than the sprites that appeared in Super Mario Bros. 2 the Bob-ombs have exploded into their own race in the Mario universe just like the Goombas, the Koopas and the Boos. Who can forget the pink Bob-ombs from Super Mario 64? They were one of the first allies Mario had in his platforming adventures. How about Bombette from Paper Mario or Admiral Bobbery from Thousand-Year Door? They stand out amongst the other, plain black Bob-ombs with unique personalities and designs. How about the Bob-omb from the movie? You know, the movie everyone's trying to forget, but hey, they almost had the Bob-ombs completely pinned in that! The Bob-ombs have somehow obtained an iconic status among the characters of the series, either through their prevalence in the series or simplistic concept. They were appeared infrequently in Super Mario Bros. 2 but now it wouldn't be Mario without 'em.

There’s the rundown. I’m sure I forgot something and left out some minor elements, but there you have the big staples of the Mario series that owe themselves almost entirely to Doki Doki Panic. How different would the Mario series be if Nintendo had decided they didn’t want to re-skin a strange Japanese game? But what I wanna know is why certain elements haven’t returned. Where’s Wart, Mouser, Tryclyde, Phantos, Trouter, Tweeter, Hoopster, Ostro, Albatoss, Fryguy, Flurry, Clawgrip? How about the potions, the bombs, the cherries, the entire world of Subcon? I mean, if it was a dream, why is it Mario wakes up and his world is suddenly populated by creatures he saw? Well, hopefully someday Super Mario Bros. 2 will get the proper credit and send up it deserves because while it’s still the black sheep of the Mario franchise, it changed the universe a lot.

List by Eratticus (07/06/2010)

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