hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Memory Card .23: It was all a dream?

7:41 PM on 01.24.2008 // Chad Concelmo

Sometimes videogame moments can be memorable without being very good. Take last season’s StarTropics Memory Card induction, for instance: I will never forget that damned submerged letter for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t change the fact that the whole concept left me a little confused.

This week, the dim, barely visible negative light of my memory shifts its focus to one of the strangest creative choices in videogame history.

Over the years, I can think of a handful of games that presented endings with unexpected and wholly fulfilling plot twists. While some of them may have been over-the-top, they still fit into the context of the established plot, making them at the very least mildly believable.

Even in the early retro days, when videogame stories weren’t a huge focus of the overall experience, a poorly realized -- or, even worse, lazy -- plot point still stood out like a sore thumb. One of these unfortunate moments occurs at the end of the quirky Super Mario Bros. 2 for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Hit the jump to learn what not to do at the conclusion of an otherwise decent little videogame.

The Set-Up

Like the aforementioned StarTropics, I actually happen to love Super Mario Bros. 2, despite some of its shortcomings. In fact, it is one of my favorite games from the golden (and sorely missed) NES era.

The first thing anyone will notice when playing Super Mario Bros. 2 is the game’s drastic change in style when compared to the original Mario hit. Gone are the classic brick-breaking and warp pipes of yore. All the stuff that made Mario, well, Mario was replaced with a strange new world filled with creepy masked enemies and a lot of ... vegetable plucking?

This huge shift in aesthetics is perfectly explained once you discover Super Mario Bros. 2 is actually a remake of the Japanese game Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, but starring Mario characters (the true sequel to the first Super Mario Bros. released only in Japan).

In the game, for the first time, you can choose between four playable characters: the well-balanced Mario, the high-jumping Luigi, the hovering Princess Toadstool, or the strong Toad. Regardless of who is chosen, the basic plot remains the same: the evil toad Wart has cursed the world of Subcon and it is up to the heroes of the Mushroom Kingdom to stop him.

After playing through numerous, admittedly creative levels, you and your companions finally make it to the final boss, Wart himself.

While the battle is nothing special (you throw a lot of vegetables, dodge a lot of bubbles), it is what occurs after Wart’s defeat that is a little ... odd.

Once the malevolent toad falls, your chosen character makes his/her way through a magical door and into an open room. At the center of the room is a vase, sealed by an oversized stopper.

Immediately, your character hops on top of the stopper and pulls it from the decorated vase. From within, eight random fairies fly out, congratulating you for defeating Wart and saving Subcon from the horrible curse.

With no hesitation, a celebration in your honor begins (involving the morbid denizens of Subcon parading Wart’s body around for all to see/gawk at). It is after this celebration when the next Memory Card moment occurs -- one that I am still scratching my head about.

The Moment

As you, the player, are waiting for the strange celebration to continue on, the scene suddenly cuts away to Mario asleep in bed, a cute nightcap sitting on top of his head. In the corner of the screen, the celebration you just witnessed is displayed in a large, white thought bubble coming from the snoring plumber’s head.

After a few moments, Mario wakes up for a second, bursting the thought bubble and all of its contents. It is at this moment that you sadly realize the entire game you have been playing was only one of Mario’s vivid (mushroom induced?) dreams. The entire adventure that established some pretty memorable characters (Birdo!) and encounters (riding on a magic carpet!) was all just in Mario’s head.

To make matters more disappointing, instead of something dramatic happening after Mario wakes up, he just goes right back to sleep as the credits start rolling, revealing the “cast” of the game.

As the last cast member leaves the screen (Wart), a final, cursive “The End” forms above Mario’s snoring face, sealing the fate of one of the strangest videogame endings of all time.

You can watch all the wackiness unfold here:

The Impact

When I first saw the ending of Super Mario Bros. 2 as a child I never really thought twice about it. While I thought it was a little weird, it wasn’t until years later when I truly realized how much of a copout it really was.

Looking back, it is a pretty big slap in the face that Nintendo didn’t think the people of America would be able to handle a game as challenging as the original sequel to Super Mario Bros. Replacing some characters from an already established game with familiar Mario icons is one thing, but adding on an abrupt ending ludicrously trying to explain why the game is so different than previous ones in the series is just insulting.

When I say “insulting” I don’t mean to sound so dramatic. It’s not like I’m really that angry about this decision or anything. As mentioned before, I love Super Mario Bros. 2 and think the ending (while crazy) is still totally classic. I just think it was an odd creative choice that boggles my mind, even today.

Think about it: when has the “it was all a dream” scenario worked well. In all other forms of media (film, television, stage), this technique is rarely used because of the negative reaction it always (deservedly) garners. Is the result of putting it in a popular videogame any different? The answer is obviously no.

Mario games have never been known for their strong stories or mind-blowing endings, so it is a little hard to fault Super Mario Bros. 2 for doing something so shocking or unfair. Heck, I guess just the fact that the Mario series tried something new is reason enough for some form of praise. But the ending is obviously (in)famous for a reason. If you ask a bunch of videogame fans on the street about Super Mario Bros. 2, I bet the same amount that knows how the game ends (read: all of them) will agree that the ending was rather disappointing and ultimately out of place.

Although not a lot happens, the ending of Super Mario Bros. 2 is easily one of the most memorable videogame moments of all time. Let’s just hope Mario doesn’t have anymore of these zany dreams in the future ...

The Memory Card Save Files

.01 - .20 (Season 1)
.21: Crono's final act (Chrono Trigger)
.22: Ganon's tower (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

Chad Concelmo,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Dreggsao avatarDreggsao
A fart says more than a thousand words.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
A fart a day keeps the doctor away.
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
Why can't we have more Lovecraftian horror games? It's such a great setting, but nobody ever uses it.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Best purchase I've made in a long time. This little remote controlled BB-8 robot by Sphero is amazing. [IMG][/IMG]
gajknight avatargajknight
I fart, therefore I am.
extatix avatarextatix
Working on my next collection blog and holy shit, I should sell some stuff already.
Myles Cox avatarMyles Cox
My first word was "fart".
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Philosophical question: if the only way to get Batman: Arkham Knight to run decently on my laptop is to lower all the settings and have it run windowed, am I really playing it?
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
I'm farting right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I farted in Gamestop today and wasn't blamed!
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
I have never farted. #TrueLies
From Must Git Gud avatarFrom Must Git Gud
Getting banned soon!
Here's to hoping Nintendo makes mobile games as compelling as Pac-Man 256...
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
I hate when a new game comes out and D-toid gets flooded with stuff about a game I don't know anything about and I'm just stuck here, sitting with myself and my freeware games...
Dreggsao avatarDreggsao
It is the middle of the night and Yu-Gi-OH is on TV. Are children with insomnia so common these days?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
My hair's done did and my Teddie cosplay is officially ready for next weekend's Comic-Con! Do I impress you, Sensei? [img][/img]
ShadeOfLight avatarShadeOfLight
Replaying Tales of Symphonia for the first time in years, I only just now realized how random the plot is. Our goals are decided at Lloyd's whimsy, while we get major revelations just 'whenever'. Still a good game, but I'm proud to be #TeamBatenKaitos.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
Question Time! What's YOUR MGSV Helicopter music?
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Today at work, I made a reference to the DK Rap in one of my news pieces. Any day that I get to do that is a good day.
gajknight avatargajknight
Everyone's playing MGSV...and I've just arrived in Skellige in The Witcher 3. At this rate, I'll get 'round to MGSV when the PS7 arrives.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -