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Super Mario Bros 2: Lost Levels is a sequel to the game Super Mario Bros. It was only ever released in Japan, Europe and North America instead got a re-skin of Doki-Doki Panic
In contrast to its predecessor, this game does not feature a two-player mode. Instead, at the start of the game, players are given a selection between Mario or Luigi. It is also the first entry of the Mario series in which Mario and Luigi exhibit differing movements: Mario retains the same movement characteristics from the original Super Mario Bros.; whereas, Luigi can jump higher and farther, but is significantly less agile. Minor tweaks have been made to the physics engine, allowing Mario or Luigi to bounce higher off the backs of enemies. Aside from improved sound quality, the background music and sound effects are reused from the previous game (except for sounds added for Mario or Luigi skidding and the wind blowing). The various character sprites are for the most part also unchanged, though more detail is given to the surrounding backgrounds and terrain.
It follows a similar style of level progression as its predecessor: eight Worlds, having four levels each. At the end of each World, Mario or Luigi navigates through a lava-filled castle, culminating in a battle against Bowser. The first eight Worlds are numbered 1-8, while the remaining four—earned by completing the game eight times—are lettered A-D in the original Disk System version. It is possible to bypass parts of the game by exploiting warp zones, but unlike the previous game, two of The Lost Levels's warp zones return the player to earlier levels.Completing Worlds 1-8 without using a warp zone allows the player to access "Fantasy World" (also known as World 9), a repeating bonus stage that is similar to the "Minus World" glitch from Super Mario Bros.
There are no new enemies, though many of them behave differently from before. Land-borne enemies such as Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and Lakitus now appear during underwater levels, while sea creatures such as Cheep-Cheeps and Bloopers can be found hovering in midair. Hammer Bros. are much more aggressive and will continuously advance towards Mario, far past their starting points. In addition, red Piranha Plants are more aggressive and will emerge from their pipes even if Mario or Luigi are standing directly beside them (in the original Super Mario Bros., Piranha Plants stay dormant if Mario is standing in close proximity), although they will remain dormant if Mario is standing directly on top of the pipe, as the ones in the original game do Lastly, in Worlds 8-4 and D-4, Bowser will appear twice inside his castle. The first Bowser is a fake, and is a darker hue of green than his counterpart. This does not happen in any level of the previous game or in the 16-bit remake.
This game was also the first to feature the Poison Mushroom, a recurring obstacle in the Mario series, which is a booby-trap disguised as a power-up. While similar in shape to a Super Mushroom and 1-Up Mushroom, the poison variety will harm Mario if he touches it. The resultant damage is similar to being struck by an enemy: if Super Mario or Fire Mario touches a Poison Mushroom, he will revert to regular Mario; if regular Mario touches one, the player will lose a life. In the original release, Poison Mushrooms are distinguishable by their black spots (as opposed to the red spots of a Super Mushroom or green spots of a 1-Up Mushroom) and their color varies depending on the environment; in later editions of the game, the mushroom is blue-violet in color and sports a telltale skull marking as well as "angry" eyes. Another new obstacle, windstorms, now appears during clifftop levels. The gusts blow intermittently from left to right, and are strong enough to push Mario or Luigi off a ledge. The direction of the wind is indicated by the leaf animations blowing across the screen. Also introduced are special green springs, which bounce Mario or Luigi extremely high. These are usually used to cross large gaps.