The Crazy 80’s
Do you remember 1988? It was the time of mullets, scrunchies and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. Boomboxes blasted “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns and Roses, and The Wonder Years captured America’s heart. This is not an article about those things, nor is about Pedro Delgado of Spain winning the Tour de France, or even Super Mario Bros 3 released in Japan on October 3rd 1988 (maybe next time wink wink). Alas this article is dedicated to a reimagined Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic that snuck its way onto the Nintendo Entertainment System. This reimagining would go onto become number three on the best sellers list, and one of the most memorable games of its time.
Perhaps you are more familiar with the American name of Super Mario Bros 2 that was released in North America on October 9th, 1988. That’s right our beloved Mario characters are simply a repurposing of a game about an Arabian family on a quest to rescue their two youngest children. The children it seems, were captured by the evil King Wart and trapped in a dream world. The game was developed by Nintendo in a joint venture with Fuji TV, a Japanese television network. Great marketing scheme because what says, “support my company” like a video game about kids kidnapped into a dream world? Doki Doki Panic was actually built on a game engine being designed for a Super Mario Bros sequel. This included vertical scrolling along with the original side scrolling we all know and love. When Fuji TV contacted Nintendo wanting to ramp up their marketing, they shifted gears and used the games engine to create Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. As time moved on Nintendo wanted to release the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros 2, however it was deemed too difficult for Western audiences. This harder version would go onto be released as “The Lost Levels”. Scrambling to come up with an acceptable alternative, the Miamoto lead team that designed Doki Doki Panic came up with a very Nintendo idea.
Not in the way they make a tennis game, or a racing game, or a soccer game, or any of the other bazillion games with Mario. No, this was a slice and dice swapping. Think “Face Off”, with Nick Cage and John Travolta. They swapped character sprites and added a little polish to get the game we know and love today. A perfect fit, a solid 10, or more like an 8.5 if you look to IGN’s scores.
Super Mario Bros 2 is often looked at as the kid no body wanted. It features different game play, no Bowser, and if you pay attention to the opening story it was nothing but Mario’s dream. However I argue that it gave us more than we realize. In a time when the Nintendo Entertainment System was exploring its full potential it pushed the boundaries on scrolling, adding a vertical aspect which was truly revolutionary. It also included four playable characters with unique attributes. This included the the Princess who had the ability to float for short periods of time, (which is why everyone picked her). It also brought us Shy Guy and Birdo, of whom are fan favorites to this day. For the first time it felt like Mario had personality, and who else didn’t love the slot machine, flying carpets, and campy theme song. I can say for me as a young child, it was the first time I enjoyed vegetables. So if you have an NES or one of its many other platforms, its worth a play through to remember the classics.
Did this article fill you with so much nostalgia that your fingers are aching to share it with the world? Or do you think I’m too old and that Nintendo’s 8-Bit legacy is best forgotten? Let me know in the comment section down below, or discuss in our wonderful forums.
Some say he is a leaf on the wind, others say he is the wind beneath their wings. Either way he is a huge Nintendo fan and has been gaming since the age of 8. One part Jedi Master, and two parts Starfleet Redshirt he has been known to quiet the ocean and make mountains sit. He comes to you now to share in all things Nintendo.