A young man wins a special version of the SNES remakes of Super Mario 1 and Super Mario: The Lost Levels combined in one cart. But there's more to this remake than meets the eye.
Note from the author: My inspiration for this and upcoming creepypastas is the Godzilla NES creepypasta. If I'm going to make creepypastas from NES and similar consoles onward--including any applicable remakes--I might as well go all out!
Hi there. My name is Darien.
A few months ago, I had been given a letter from one of the people at Nintendo of America... they had a rather interesting raffle (to say the least) and I had entered it when I saw the announcement in the Nintendo Direct newsletter. What I had won in that raffle, according to the letter, is a special version of Super Mario 1, which had both the original Super Mario 1 and Super Mario: The Lost Levels--the Japanese Super Mario 2--in the SNES style, like what was within Super Mario All-Stars. They told me the special cart was on the way. I was quite elated, since I still had my old SNES. I also have some of the newer Nintendo Systems, but since I wasn't around when the original NES came to be, the SNES remakes were what I was familiar with when it came to the original Mario Trilogy, as well as Lost Levels, since in my honest opinion, Lost Levels was kind of the extension of Super Mario 1.
While the cart was in transit, I had heard the tragic news that the person who compiled the combined cart, whom I remember as named "Marv", had met his tragic end in a nasty accident. No, this isn't one of those cursed games or ghost-haunting-a-game-cart stories. It was an actual accident, where a really old tree fell over and hit the car he was driving, killing him almost instantly. Even when the cart made it to my house, I didn't play it for a while, as I was still reflecting on that man's life.
When I finally recovered from my grief, I went ahead and began to play the game. But nothing could prepare me for what was coming.
The game started up as normal, at least per SNES version standards. It had the usual Super Mario 1 overworld tune... at first. But after I passed the second pipe, the screen got staticy for a few seconds, and then, when it came back, the sky was black, aside from a faint red glow, like the glow of fires of ravaged lands. The green hills turn a reddish-brown, the grass was brown and dead--even the grass-blades of the SNES remake of World 1-1 looked like piles of dead grass--and the clouds were dark gray with sinister faces. The warp pipes had also changed color to look almost gray with a few brown-red spots implying rust.
The Goombas' faces were more sinister than usual. The warp pipe which usually led to the coin room and shortcut to the goal didn't work, so I kept going. I usually kept going anyway, since I wanted to get the Fire Flower early on, as well as the 1-Up Mushroom, but still, it was weird the shortcut didn't work anymore.
I should also mention that the tune was the same overall tune, but a minor key and a bit faster-paced, as if something bad was about to happen.
Anyhow, I soon saw the first Green Koopa Troopa, but his face seemed more sinister and gleeful as usual. The eyes' "whites" had been changed to a dark-grey--almost black--with a glowing red pupil. These would appear in all the Koopa Troopas and Paratroopas, by the way--just thought I'd point that out.
"What the heck is going on?!" I asked myself. But I soon got to the goal flag and continued on to World 1-2.
The second section of World 1 was the cavern level. Normally in the SNES remake of Super Mario 1, the background would be bluish rocks with some timbers holding back the walls. Not this time. The rocks were gray with red fluid on a few of the décor rocks. Some of the timbers had rotted, and there were even some evidences of cave-ins in the backgrounds. The pipes again were gray with rust spots. The Goombas were still the bluish underground level Goombas, but shared the same sinister looks as their above-surface counterparts. The background music was the same Super Mario 1 Underground theme, but more foreboding, as though going through some catacomb of sorts. When I encountered the Piranha Plants, they had a black main head with brownish spots, and their mouths snapped faster than their usual sprites.
The up and down elevators didn't work anymore, as they were replaced by the platforms that dropped if you stood on them. This mean the Warp Zones don't work, but I didn't use them anyway, myself. I soon made it to the surface--again with its dingy, dead look--and made it to the flagpole.
I soon saw World 1-3. Normally in the remake of this game, you'd see some waterfalls in the distance, and the hills--or rather, large trees, as how they appeared--would lead you to the first Castle. But here, it was barren dry cliffs. Any Waterfalls in the area had long since dried up. And I also saw over the cliffs what appeared to be a large inferno. The clouds weren't even there.
I saw the red Koopa Paratroopas, and like the Troopas of both version, they had their sinister eyes, and instead of bird-like wings, they were bat wings. And their flight was a little bit faster than normal.
I had to jump very carefully because these enemies had become more unpredictable. The ominous remix of the Super Mario 1 overworld theme played as I carefully planned my jumps. Eventually I made it to the castle and what would be my first encounter with Bowser.
The first Castle of Super Mario 1 soon was before me. The castle didn't change much in this version, but the music was slower and more sinister than the usual Super Mario 1 castle theme. But all the empty blocks had their firebars--normally this would happen in World 6-4, but this time, they've upped the ante at the get-go. Not only that, but Bowser's flames started shooting at me much earlier than usual.
When I finally made it to Bowser, he was spitting his fire breath two in a row. But this Bowser had the same dark grey "eye whites" and glowing red pupil as his underlings had. Something really weird was going on. I launched some fireballs at the Koopa King and made him change into the Goomba. Then I tagged the axe and made it to a Toad--but this Toad looked like he was missing an arm, and some red was there, which I can only guess to be blood.
Instead of the standard "princess in another castle" line, he said, "Darien! You're finally here! The Mushroom Kingdom is devastated!"
I was quite taken aback--how did the game know my name?!
World 2 begins. As with the usual dark sky with reddish glow, I saw the now ruined trees--or are the hills? I don't know. Normally in the SNES remake, there'd be these large green conical trees or hills in the distance, but now they were either dull brown or in some cases gray, to indicate they had been burnt to ash. Also, the trees that were part of the closer background had been turned to splintered stumps. Even the fences had been broken. Once again, I met the demented looking enemies. But there was that vine that led up to the coin heaven stage--it had already grown. Normally a player would have to hit a block to make the vine grow, but here, it had already grown. And it was still green, instead of brown and dead like the other vegetation. Heck, yeah, I climbed up the vine! When I got to Coin Heaven, I saw an image of Princess Peach--who was still called Princess Toadstool back in the day, of course--tossing out coins to me as I went across, and the text "You can do it, Darien!" appeared as I ran across! I again was curious--how did the game know my name? Anyway, I made it to the flagpole and prepared to go to World 2-2, the first underwater stage of the game.
The second section of World 2 had the same black sky and an almost purplish water. This was strange, since the "poison water" scenario wouldn't be around until New Super Mario Bros. Though it may have happened sooner, but don't quote me on that. Anyway, the normally serene Underwater swimming theme was replaced by a gringy moderately-slow punk tune. The background coral had been completely wrecked, and the seaweed was gone. Only the grayish rocks were there--remember, this is the SNES remake I'm playing. The foreground coral was also gone, replaced with what I assume to be toxic waste drums.
"What the crap?!" I said to myself.
The enemies also reflected this devastation. The Bloopers looked grayish, almost like their old NES selves (the SNES versions of Blooper were somewhat pinkish), and their eyes were all glowing red (you couldn't even see the whites of the eyes). The two Cheep-Cheeps seemed to have been mutated by the toxins in the water. The red Cheep-Cheeps had a flaming glow around them, and what were supposed to be green Cheep-Cheeps were instead gray, and almost looked robotic. Both versions had an almost menacing look. As I swam, the robot Cheeps would sometimes turn and chase me. The Bloopers didn't have their random bobbing movements--they had a better motion and actually were chasing me. Since I still had Fire Flower power, I quickly dispatched any that got close, as I didn't want to take chances. Even the red Cheeps went down with a fireball, despite their glow. I eventually got to the goal.
I soon got to World 2-3, the bridge with the leaping Cheep-Cheeps. As with the other changes of this game I had--the black sky, dark gray clouds with sinister faces, and so forth--the statues in the background had a more evil feel. In the usual SNES remake of SMB1, there would be Goomba Statues in the background. But these were instead replaced by large skulls on pedestals. And these skulls were not unlike the skulls from the skull rafts in Super Mario World. The only difference is these skulls had pulsating glowing red eyes. It's obvious this version of the game has taken a turn for the darker.
The leaping red Cheeps also had a new hazard. When they reached the peak of their jumps, they explode into fireballs--similar to the fireballs that Mario throws in Fire Flower form. In one part of this run, one of them got lucky and turned me back to ordinary Mario. Luckily, I was near the next block to get a Super Mushroom. And it seems stomping the fish prevents them from exploding, for heaven knows what reason. Despite that minor hiccup, I made it to the World 2 Castle.
When I got to the first part of World 2-4, there was a firebar, but thankfully it wasn't the ginormous firebar that would appear in 5-4, so I was able to get my Fire Flower power back that I had lost in the previous level. And I was also thankful that the timer was a long timer, so I could careful time my moves through the other firebars. When I passed the firebars and got through the Elevators, again Bowser's fire breath began. When I made it to the bridge, Bowser was again shooting fire breath in double-shots, but was a Podoboo--the fire bubble that leaps from the lava in these levels--and it had a glowing skull on it. I didn't want to find out what it could do, so I again rapid-fired the crap on Bowser, making him into a Cheep-Cheep, and found the two Toads in the cell. I gasped in shock at what I saw. One of the Toads was dead--brutally slaughtered. The other Toad had a head bandage, with a red spot that I could assume to be blood.
The Toad said: "Is the Mushroom Kingdom finished?!"
The game saved after this level, which was good since I needed a break from the game. But one nagging feeling hung on the back of my head. I wrote to Nintendo and explain what I had seen so far, and was wondering how the game knew my name. Again, this isn't a game with a ghost in it. Though I admit, at the time, even I was beginning to think it was.
After relaxing a bit, I began with World 3 of this cart. The world was already a night-themed world originally, and in the SNES remake, World 3-1 had some snow. But in this, it was all completely black--not even the red haze was there. The pristine snow was replaced with a brownish gray slush. The trees were reduced to splintered stumps and the fences were heavily damaged. Again the Koopas and Goombas had their demented look, but what really got my attention were the Hammer Brothers. As was in the original and, by extension, the official SNES remake, the Hammer Brothers made their first appearance in World 3-1, but in this, they threw what looked like tomahawks. There were even red dots on them which I could only guess represent specks of blood. And they too had their eye "white" recolored black, and the eye pupils glowing red. Something really messed up was going on. And neither the shortcut pipe nor the vine to coin heaven was there, so I just kept going to the goal, stopping only briefly to do the 100 Up trick on the stairway--I was very thankful that trick still worked.
World 3-2 was also a slushy marred area, but instead of the trees and fences, I saw various gravestones, not unlike the ones seen in the SNES version of Zelda 1 for the BS Satellite system--I am aware of the existence of it, yes--along the side. The hillsides in the distance were medium gray. I continued on, fighting the crazed enemies, and was thankful the Starman was still in the area to give invincibility for the final stretch, and made it to the next part of World 3.
For World 3-3, it was again the grassy part--dead grass in this case, and again the strange trees crossing the gap. When I reached the really thick tree with the four smaller trees and the metal platforms on ropes, I noticed some strange carvings on the thick trunk, which read:
"The Mushroom World is now ruined! Ha, ha, ha."
It sounded to me like the Koopas really wanted to rub it in to the Mushroom people. I soon made it to the castle with little trouble. But things were about to get nasty.
The Podoboos and firebars were there as they were in the usual Super Mario 1--both the original NES version and the SNES remake--but what got my attention was what I saw along the balcony in the background. It appeared as though some strange silhouetted figure ran by, and there was the laugh similar to the Boos in Super Mario 64. This was strange, since the Nintendo 64 itself wouldn't be around until a few years later, let alone Super Mario 64.
I soon made it to Bowser--for some reason, the fire breath didn't shoot throughout the trek to him. But before the fight started, the timer stopped briefly for a dialogue from Bowser:
"Don't you know I've already won?!"
The fight--and timer--resumed, and Bowser, instead of his usual fire breath, just shot out Koopa Shells at me. When I stomped on one to stop it, I got to send it back at him, and oddly enough, one hit was enough to turn him into a green Koopa Troopa into the lava. I tagged the axe and found the three Toads. One was already dead, horribly mauled. The second was near death, and died in the third Toad's arms. The aforementioned third Toad looked up at Mario, and the text read:
"Please, Darien! Avenge our fallen! And if need be, avenge our Princess!"
I was more anxious to hear back from Nintendo on how this game knew who I was.
World 4-1 started. As was the case in both the official original and remake, Lakitu made his debut along with Spiny. But the Spinies here had a darker shell, and the spikes had red dots on it, which I could only assume to be specks of blood. And Lakitu's eyes looked sadistic, as if he really wanted to kill Mario quickly! And again, the dark sky with the red glow appeared, as well as the dark gray clouds with sadistic smiles on them. And the dead grass and all that. When the eggs hatched into Spinies, they pretty much chased me. As I leapt over Spinies and barely cleared them, they actually turned around to begin to slowly chase me. Luckily some were dumb enough to fall into pits, but when I jumped over pipes and other blockades, they were pressing against them, as if in vain they tried to climb them. I couldn't duck into a pipe for the shortcut, but my main concern was to just keep going to make it to the goal, which I did.
World 4-2 was up next, and it was another one of those underground stages. But instead of the usual bluish cavern décor, it was brown with almost a sea of lava seen in some parts of the background--which were almost like natural stone arches revealing deeper into the cave. And I wasn't even in one of the castle stages yet! Buzzy Beetle, as well as the cave Goomba, and the Koopa Troopas, were again there in their sadistic glee. The vine which led up to the warp zone was no longer there, and there was no way to find the Warp Zone to World 5 either. Again, I didn't care at this point, as I wanted to go through the whole game anyway, even with this rather twisted dystopian version. Of course, this looking like a fiery cavern version, I was afraid a stray Podoboo might leap up and hit me. Thankfully it did not. I soon made it to the exit and on to the next section of the fourth world.
World 4-3 was usually the giant mushrooms to cross the big crevasse. But instead of the yellowish tops with red spots, it was a purple top with some white skulls--perhaps a subtle nod to the poison mushrooms that would appear in the Lost Levels. The sky, which normally had many smiling clouds in the remake, had instead many sadistic smiling dark clouds, the red glow replaced with an almost bluish glow, and occasional flashes of lightning. In fact, I saw some lightning hit the mushroom tops, each giving off a sudden flame--not unlike what you would see from the Sumo Bros in Super Mario World. The Red Troopas and Paratroopas still patrolled the area. I had to take it easy, as I wanted to keep my Fire Flower, but I eventually made it to the castle.
To the Super Mario 1 veterans, it should be noted that the World 4 castle is the first of the strange mazes. In this, some red spray-painted arrows indicated the correct route. The doors (which were part of the decoration of the castles in the remakes) had some really sinister looking skulls--even more frightening than in usual Mario games. Bowser began to spit out a spreadshot of fire when I was starting to get close, and some I was able to duck in the nick of time. When I got to Bowser, not only did he spit out multiple flames at once, but he sent out Spiny Shells at me. I rapid-fired the crap out of my fireballs, and they turned him into a Spiny. I got to the captive Toads, and was shocked to see how badly messed up they were. Three were already dead, and one was near death when I got to him. With his dying breaths, he said:
"Darien, you're our only hope now."
After saying those words, he just fell limp. All I could think to myself was, "Come on, Nintendo, I really need an answer from you guys."
I soon began the fifth world of Super Mario 1. The dark sky with reddish glow appeared again, as did the sadistic-faced dark clouds. There was some dirty slush, similar to the polluted snow slush in World 3. And I remembered this was where Bullet Bill made his debut. When he did appear for the first time, his eyes were fully glowing red, not unlike the altered Bloopers I saw for the first time. Even the skulls on their cannons were more sinister than usual, with extra demon-like horns on them. The shortcuts were no longer there, so I had to go to the goal the old fashioned way. But I did make it all the same.
The second section of World 5 had more darkened sky with the cloud fixin's, more polluted slush, and even more of the enemies I had encountered before. Once more, the shortcuts had been closed off... and any Piranha Plant that was usually in this and other levels had the same black heads and brownish spots as those I had encountered much earlier. Soon, I made it to the goal, relieved I was able to get through that mess.
World 5-3 was a repeat of World 1-3 as before, but with smaller moving platforms and even had the Bullet Bills appearing at random. The waterfalls that were usually there were now very polluted--the greenish waterfalls even glowed for a bit sometimes, indicating radioactive waste dumped in them.
"What the heck?!" I exclaimed when I saw this. But I had to keep going. I made through, barely dodging the sadistic altered Bullet Bills, and made it to the Castle.
World 5's castle had the long firebar as before, but this time, the Podoboos hovered a bit, showing skulls, and slowly floated toward me before sinking back down to the lava. I didn't want to find out how far they'd follow me, so I just ran the gauntlet, barely avoiding the firebars and Bowser's flames as I approached.
When I reached Bowser, the timer again stopped, and Bowser spoke:
"You're persistent, aren't you? But it doesn't matter, as I've already won the war!"
Bowser proceeded to spit fire and send out Bullet Bills, oddly. When I defeated Bowser with my Fireballs, he turned into a Buzzy Beetle, though one hammer got lucky and shrunk me back to regular Mario after the final fireball hit Bowser.
After tagging the axe, I saw four Toads mourning a slain fifth Toad, and he was really mauled up--I just can't bear writing the specifics in this account.
And soon, one of the still living Toads faced me and asked:
"Please let the Princess still be alive."
World 6 began, and again the sky was all completely black--similar to World 3 was. The hills in the distance were all gray, with some whisps of smoke, indicating there were fires here earlier. Again, the grass was a dead brown. And again, the demented Lakitu and his Spinies appeared. I quickly found a Super Mushroom to start powering myself up again, and got through quickly. I didn't want to take my chances to see if Lakitu would get a lucky shot on me.
World 6-2 had more charred hills in the distance as well as the dead grass and altered enemies. The shortcuts were sealed off--at least this time, they had some things that made it make sense why the shortcuts no longer worked. For instance, the underwater shortcut and underground shortcut pipes were blocked with the cube bricks, which were similar to the stairways near the castle goal. And the vine to the clouds was shown to be knocked over and withered. But aside from that, I got myself fully powered up again, and made my way to the goal.
World 6-3 had everything gray, kind of a throwback to the version back in the old NES days. But the Bullet Bills here still had their red glowing eyes despite the gray color scheme. In addition, sometimes, these Bullet Bills would pause for a bit, turn, and slowly chase me--something that wouldn't start till some of the later 3D Mario games. Luckily, they could still be stomped and dealt with that way, and I made it to the Castle with little hassle.
The castle that was World 6-4 was, as before, the harder version of World 1-4, and even more Podoboos launched out of the lava. Some of these had dark gray skulls, and exploded into fireball-style shots. Luckily, these shots were slow and easy to avoid. I again made it past the firebars, as I had plenty of experience beforehand, and made it to Bowser. Aside from his fire breath and throwing hammers, he sometimes kicked Spiny shells at me. I threw fireballs at him till he shrunk into a Lakitu. I tagged the axe and was horrified to see all six of the small Toads dead in their big ship shaped like a large Toad's turban. The text read:
"Darn! We got here too late, Darien!"
I was surprised--even Mario knew my name in this version of the game. I was getting even more perplexed.
The first section of the seventh world appeared. The same reddish glow in the darkened sky appeared, as did the sadistic storm clouds, and--since the SNES remakes had snow in this--there was the polluted slush. In this there were also gravestones in some parts, and the gravestones also had polluted slush on them. The demented Green Koopas--Troopa and Paratroopa alike--were here, as were the Buzzy Beetles and Bullet Bills, but the Hammer Brothers here had a new weapon to throw. They were throwing pickaxes at me. At the tips were red pixels, which I could only assume to be blood dried at the tips. The bonus room pipe was shown to be smashed up. I kind of figured the room would be sealed, but I again was glad at least they had some reason for it. Besides, it wasn't much a shortcut anyway. I continued on and made it to the goal--from experience, I knew the next part was the second swimming level.
World 7-2 was, like World 2-2, a polluted mess, and once again we saw robotic Cheep Cheeps and robotic Bloopers. This time, though, parts in the background seemed to show wrecked ships. Even submarines were seen in the background. Near the end of the section, in the part where the L-shaped overhangs of a pit were, I saw some large canisters with the radiation symbol on them.
"Were the Koopas learning radioactive weapons?" I thought. "No. No, it couldn't be."
But I soon made it to the exit pipe and prepared for the next segment.
The third section of World 7 was similar to that of World 2, as I had been crossing a bridge with Cheep Cheeps leaping out. And this time, they added the red and green Koopa Troopas, and red Paratroopas, all still having that nasty look.
The statues in the background this time, however, were replaced with what looked like rockets with radiation symbols on them. Could they be ballistic missiles of some sort? Whoever made this version of Super Mario 1 must've had one warped imagination.
I didn't want to find out. I just tried to get through as quickly and carefully as possible, trying to avoid getting hit--as I wanted to maintain my Fire Flower--and made it to the castle.
The castle that was World 7-4 was the second maze castle. And again, at least whoever designed this version was decent enough to spray-paint arrows to the correct path. Every time I made the correct path choice and got to the next section, a fireball of Bowser's breath came forth.
Eventually, I made it to Bowser, and the timer paused a brief bit, as Bowser spoke:
"Do you like the nukes I prepared?"
When the battle and timer resumed, Bowser again spat out his fire breath and launched out the pickaxes, and in some cases, even the tomahawks from the earlier incarnation of Hammer Bros I faced. I rapid-fired the crap out of my fireballs, stopping just long enough to dodge Bowser's attacks. It was just a matter of luck that I wasn't hit myself when I turned that Bowser into a Blooper!
After tagging the axe, I made it to the next room. I was horrified to see one of those large blocks of bricks had squashed the seven micro-Toads, and I could even see a small puddle of blood underneath said block. The text read:
"I have a bad feeling, Darien! We must hurry to the Princess now!"
Again, Mario had acknowledged my name. This was really making me scratch my head.
The eighth world of Super Mario 1 began. Again, the sadistic smiling dark clouds and the red glow with the darkened sky appeared. Once more I saw the demented versions of the Goomba, Green Troopa, Green Paratroopa, and Buzzy Beetle.
All the pipes had been broken, save for those that had the alternate versions of the Piranha Plants. So that means the bonus room was taken out. It didn't matter much to me, since it was not much a shortcut anyway, and time was tight in this stage.
I noticed the hills in the distance were charred gray, the trees were reduced to splintered stumps, and the fences were broken--similar to what I saw in previous levels. But there were also more gravestones in this area than usual. Was there a big war or a mass slaughter here?
But my attention resumed to getting through this stage as quickly as possible. The pits were larger in this stage, so I really had to plan my jumps ahead. Nevertheless, I made it to the goal.
World 8-2 came up, and I again saw Lakitu greet me with his Spiny Eggs. The Buzzy Beetle, Green Paratroopa, and Goomba also appeared, as well as the occasional Bullet Bill. But like in a few of the previous encounters, these Bullet Bills occasionally turned to chase me a bit. This really was starting to puzzle me.
The hills in the background were also charred gray, and some were just completely altered to look like large bombs had been set off to cause cave-ins or craters. This part of World 8 really looked like a war zone. Again, some of the pits were large, which caused me to plan jumps ahead. But I made it to the goal.
World 8-3 were the castle grounds just before the final Castle in SMB1. Aside from the green Troopas and Paratroopas, as well as Bullet Bills, the Hammer Brothers in this case threw circular sawblades, not unlike the Metal Blade from Mega Man 2. The castle walls themselves also looked more sinister, as some of the closed gated ones had locks that resembled horned skulls.
In one part, I saw some graffiti on the walls that read:
"Koopa has already won!"
"What the heck could that mean?" I asked.
But I soon made it to the castle--I was amazed that I was able to hold on to my Fire Flower for so long. But then, having practiced with Super Mario All-Stars--the one I got before I got this raffle prize--did pay off. But nothing could prepare me for World 8-4.
World 8-4 had the same overall layout as before, as going in the wrong pipe sent you back to the start. The pipes that were correct were the same ones as before. But there was the sight outside the windows.
The thunderstorm outside the window sometimes showed very disturbing images, like silhouettes of Toads being tortured and/or killed in some grotesque ways. Others showed Koopas and their ilk holding really frightening weapons. But I tried not to think of it too much as I kept going in the correct pipes.
Until, I made it to the pipe that led to the waters.
Aside from the "mecha-Bloopers" (as I now called them) and the fire bars, I saw corpses of Toads that had been tied to weights--anchors, boulders, 10 ton weights, anvils, what have you--and drowned. It made me really wonder what was going on in Marv's mind at the time.
Eventually, I made it to the real Bowser. The statues of Bowser had red glowing eyes, as though they were watching me. When I got to Bowser himself, aside from his fire breath and hammers, he even sent out Spiny Shells and Bullet Bills. He was REALLY going all out. I rapid-fired my fireballs like hell and soon sent him into the lava.
After tagging the axe, I found Princess Peach. She wasn't in the cage as before, but was just on a platform, and it looked like she had an arm in a sling. When it got to the close-up, instead of the usual kiss on the cheek scene, it had Mario and Peach facing each other, and Peach was kneeling. The text read:
"Thank you both, Mario and Darien.
"But this is just the beginning.
"Koopa is planning something big!"
I saved the game, as it was about to go to the Lost Levels. I really needed time to rest and think of what I was seeing.
My mom soon stopped by and gave me a letter. It was the reply from Nintendo.
I opened it. It read:
"We apologize for taking so long to reply.
"We will first answer why the game knew you by name.
"In past raffles, since we started them, our developers would often put in the names of the raffle winners in the games themselves, to add some individuality and sentimental value to them.
"Now to explain why the game was a bit bizarre.
"In the past, Marv had made games with various holiday themes, from cheerful yet wintry Christmas themes, to cute and springtime Easter themes.
"With Halloween, it was a--for lack of a better term--mixed bag. Sometimes it was a cute Halloween theme. Other times, well, let's just say he got a little carried away with the horror theme.
"Most likely, it was the latter of those two Halloween themes you got. Often times Marv would pick at random and sometimes forget which of those themes he picked when we do the individualizing.
"However, it seems you have little issue, if any, with the particular theme, as you don't seem traumatized by it.
"If you do start to feel uneasy about this, do send it back and we'll try to pick one of the customized carts with a theme that isn't as troubling.
"We hope to hear from you again.
"Sincerely, Reggie Fils-Aimé, President and COO of Nintendo of America."
On one hand, I was relieved that it wasn't a ghost in the cartridge, but on the other hand, it did make me kind of wonder what was in Marv's mind at the time.
That thought would have to wait, as I needed a break from gaming. It was about a month before I resumed, starting with the Lost Levels portion of the cart.
Lost Levels World 1Edit
I soon began the Lost Levels portion of Super Mario. This of course was the game that introduced the infamous Poison Mushroom--and unlike the original NES or Famicom version, the SNES remake made it more obvious (due to the NES palette limitations, it was occasionally hard to tell a Poison Mushroom from a 1Up Mushroom). Again, it was darkened skies with a reddish glow, and evil smiling clouds. Again, the hills were charred to ashen gray, and the enemies again showed their demented alternative forms.
But I was surprised I still had my Fire Flower form, instead of being reverted to regular form to start. Of course, I was not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I gladly took what I had and kept going.
When I made the Poison Mushroom appear, however, it was actually chasing me about. Luckily it couldn't jump, so I was glad it couldn't follow me over the pipe. As I continued down Lost Levels World 1-1 (the title card even included "Lost Levels" to tell it apart from the original Super Mario 1), I remembered that some Warp Zones make you go back a world or so. And going through any Warp Zone at all--even those that make you go back--will blackball a player from seeing World 9. Since I wanted to see World 9, I remembered which pipes took me to Warp Zones, so I could avoid them at all costs. Anyway, I made it to the goal and prepared for the second section of Lost Levels World 1.
World 1-2 of Lost Levels was an underground theme, just like World 1-2 of the original Super Mario. It was a dingy gray underground--only slightly different from a castle level. Some of the timbers in the background looked as though they had collapsed. And some of the lanterns that made the light for the level were smashed. I avoided the vine that led to the warp pipe to World 3, as again, I wanted to see World 9. What really got my attention was lava in ALL the pits--normally a lava pit wouldn't appear unless I had wanted to go to the Warp Zone to World 4. What perplexed me further was Podoboos leaping out of the fire pits, as they did in Castle stages. I just simply made my way as I could back out to the devastated surface and made my way to the goal. World 1-3 was next.
World 1-3 of Lost Levels had similarities to World 1-3 of Super Mario 1. The waterfalls that made up the background of the SNES version were now glowing a bit green, similar to what I saw earlier in the Super Mario 1 levels. Aside from the red Troopas and Paratroopas were the mecha Bloopers. Since they were out of water, they were stompable, but they had the same red glowing eyes and, because they were out of water, they had jet engines within them. All the same, stomping them got rid of them, lickety split. Because this was the Lost Levels, I had to get very clever with some jumps, but I did make it to the goal and entered the World 1 Castle.
The first Castle of the Lost Levels was not too different from the first Castle of SMB1, except for more lava pits, and needing to be more cautious in timing my moves to dodge the firebars. On the balcony in the background, I saw what appeared to be chained Toads being marched off. I tried hard to not get too distracted, but I could only shudder to think of what they were being marched to.
Eventually I made it to Bowser. The timer paused a bit, and Bowser said:
"Back for more, huh, Darien?"
Bowser began spitting his usual fire breath, and I started shooting fireballs at the big bastard. He eventually turned into a Goomba and I tagged the axe.
In the next chamber, I saw a Toad, badly beaten, and I gasped when he said:
"Those Toads are being marched to a mass execution! Please, Darien, avenge our slain!"
Lost Levels World 2Edit
The second world of the lost levels soon came, but I was puzzled by what that previous Toad said--a mass execution in a Mario game?!
Anyway, World 2-1 of the Lost Levels was one of those night levels. And because it was the devastated land scheme, there were no stars. But the water below looked almost purplish. This was bizarre, as the poison water wouldn't be around until around the New Super Mario series or thereabouts. Either way, I was wise to not go into it.
The pipe shortcut didn't work, but then, it wasn't much of a shortcut anyway, but the vine did. When I went up to the clouds of Coin Heaven, I also saw angels that I could only assume were the Toads that were slain earlier. As I passed to pick up coins, some Toads were saying:
"Save the Princess and Make Bowser Pay!"
"Help the Mushroom Kingdom begin healing!"
"Avenge us and save the Princess!"
I soon made it to the goal flag, thankful I was through that.
The second part of Lost Levels World 2 began, and more demented Goombas and Koopas emerged. Aside from the dark night sky, I was aghast to see what was in the hilly foreground--there were Toads impaled on large poles--almost like what you'd see in Bram Stoker's Dracula or similar horror movies. It was in the usual 16-bit Mario art style, naturally, but that didn't make it any less creepy.
"Could these have been the victims whose souls I met in the Coin Heaven?" I whispered to myself. "Could this also have been the mass execution that one Toad in World 1 spoke about?!"
I was starting to wonder what was going through Marv's mind when he made this version. The pipe shortcut didn't work here, but it was not really much a shortcut anyway. Granted, some worlds were those that looped on until one took a pipe shortcut, but luckily in this version, it wasn't. I made it to the flagpole and prepared for World 2-3.
World 2-3 of the Lost Levels mixed the nighttime large treetop hills of World 3-3 with the bridge theme of World 2-3, both of which of the original Super Mario 1. The mecha Cheeps were fitted with bombs on them, almost like a Cheep-Cheep version of a Bob-Omb. This was odd, since Super Mario 2 (USA) wouldn't be out for a while. Nevertheless, I dodged these--as I didn't want to find out if stomping them would detonate them. More of the demented Koopas also were coming at me. My Fire Flower Power got a work out as I tried to race my way toward the Castle of World 2.
World 2's Castle in the Lost Level had that one gap where you had to hold right to avoid falling into the narrow lava pit below, which I did. I also got through the firebars gauntlet--which even I admit was pure luck that I got through with my Fire Flower still with me, and dodged some of the Bowser fire as I approached Bowser.
Before the Bowser battle began, he said:
"Like the lovely torture I put the mushroom people through? I plan to take out the Princess as well!"
I was horrified when I read that. I spammed the crap out of my fireballs, stopping only once to jump over a Bowser fire breath. Bowser then turned into a red Koopa Troopa Shell, and I tagged the axe.
The two Toads at the end were wounded, but barely alive still. One of them spoke:
"Please, Darien! Don't let Bowser get away with this horrible genocide!"
This is the first time in God knows when that I saw the word "genocide" mentioned in any Nintendo-made game, let alone a Mario game.
Lost Levels World 3Edit
I soon started World 3-1 of Lost Levels, and it had the red glow in the dark sky, along with the slush that originally was snow, and the sadistic storm clouds. The demented Koopas were back, as were Hammer Bros. What they threw were their standard hammers, but there were some red pixels on some parts, perhaps to imply blood.
I didn't bother taking the pipes, since one so-called "shortcut" sent you back a few screens, and the other led to a Warp Zone that sent you back to World 1. And even Warp Zones that sent you back would blackball you from World 9, which I really wanted to see. So I just kept going to the goal.
World 3-2 here was the first of the swimming levels. So once again, I saw both varieties of mecha Cheep-Cheeps, and the mecha Bloopers. This time, though, it had the demented versions of the Koopas. Red ones had what looked like the Bullet Bill Cannons on their back, which lobbed out black ball bombs. Green Koopas would just chase me around. Luckily, these two fell to my Fireballs, and for the Red Koopas, it took the cannon with them.
The background of the level showed very badly damaged coral reefs. Further in, however, showed me the bloated corpses of Toads that were drowned, tied to anchors, boulders, and other weights. I got to the goal quickly, before I had more nightmares my sleep.
I soon made it to World 3-3 of the Lost Levels, and again, polluted waterfalls were part of the desolate landscape. More demented Koopas came toward me, as did the discolored Piranha Plants, including some that were not even there in the usual Lost Levels.
I timed my jumps carefully and made it to the castle of World 3. But I had an inkling of what was coming up, since I played Lost Levels before.
As I suspected, World 3-4 of Lost Levels was one of those maze puzzle castles. Luckily, as they did in Super Mario 1's remake--this version of it anyway--there were arrows that pointed me into the right direction. I dodged one or two Bowser flames along the way, and made it to Bowser's bridge.
Aside from the usual Bowser Fire, Bowser also kicked Green Koopa shells toward me. So aside from Fireballs, I sometimes stomped on a koopa shell and kicked it back. The defeated fake Bowser changed into a green Cheep-Cheep.
The three released Toads were horribly disfigured from their treatment. One had an arm savagedly ripped off, one of them had a peg leg to indicate a lost leg, and the third had an eye covering bandage. One of the Toads said:
"Darien, you must destroy those savage Koopas!"
Savage indeed, I thought.
Lost Levels World 4Edit
I soon started the fourth world of the Lost Levels. And as it did in Super Mario 1, this brought Lakitu and his Spinies into play. It also had the sadistic Goombas in, probably to throw me off.
Now, normally in the Lost Levels (the SNES remake, anyway), there'd be some patches of big forests in the background, as well as the hills. But aside from the dead grass and other signs of desolation, the forests were replaced with tall poles, some of which had Toads impaled on them, like they were in World 2-1--I guess Koopa was taking a page from Vlad the Impaler here--and some of the corpses were even shown in some states of decay!
On the distant hills, if there weren't billows of smoke atop the ashen gray hills, there were what I assume to be crosses, and while they were too distant to show any bodies on them, I could assume Toads were crucified to them.
"No way would Nintendo of America let this kind of stuff in back in the day!" I softly said to myself with a nervous chuckle.
The shortcut pipe that normally led to an underwater bonus area didn't work, but it wasn't much a shortcut in the usual version anyway. I soon made it to the goal of the stage.
World 4-2 of the Lost Levels started up next. This time, it was just smoking ashen hills and splintered trunks of trees. I assumed Marv didn't want to overdo the shock factor of slaughtered Toads, and that was fine by me. But this introduced the Bullet Bills, and they had the red glowing eyes as they did in the Super Mario 1 levels in this cart. Also, Lakitu and Spiny were back, as were the Hammer Bros and Koopas, all still demented as usual. The Hammer Bros had pointy spiked faces on the "flat" sides of the hammer heads.
I remembered where Starman was in the usual version of the Lost Levels here, and gratefully took it. I ran like hell through the level, taking out as many enemies as possible. At one point, the Poison Mushroom had already come out of its block and started to pursue me. Luckily, I avoided it and it fell into the gap. I was really grateful it didn't have the ability to jump or ascend walls.
Again, I carefully yet quickly made it to the goal flag.
World 4-3 again had the large treetops and the polluted waterfall in the background. But whereas last time it had just the red Troopas and Paratroopas (demented, naturally), this also had the mad Bullet Bills coming out of nowhere. Normally, they'd just emerge from the right side of the screen, but here, they were emerging from the left, and some even from the top and bottom of the screen--this was odd, as the first time normally a gamer would see Bullet Bills flying in directions other than straight horizontally was in Super Mario World.
Even more shocking was sometimes Bullet Bills would collide and explode, the explosion causing some shrapnel shaped like the fireballs that Fire Flower Mario would throw. I breathed a sigh of relief when I made it to the goal flag--as even I myself was amazed I got through with my Fire Flower still with me!
The World 4 Castle opened up with the ginormous firebar. Taking a quickly timed leap, I went past it so I could maintain my Fire power. Now, this was the first time since the World 4 Castle of Lost Levels that I noticed something going on in the background. After passing two more firebars and getting past the large lava pit, I saw a Hammer Brother emerge from one of the background doors carrying a severed head of a Toad!
"Man, what was Marv going through in life?" I asked myself silently.
I then continued, taking safe routes when I could--I was glad this wasn't one of those maze levels where I was required to take a certain path--and soon made it to Bowser.
Before the fight began, I saw the Hammer Brother give Bowser the severed Toad head and walk away. Bowser then tried to roll it as a bowling ball at Mario. Mario automatically jumped to avoid it, and the regular game play resumed.
Dodging the usual Fire breath from Bowser, I spammed the crap out of my Fireballs, and the Bowser turned into a Spiny and fell into the lava.
The four Toads were still alive, but obviously beaten up bad. One Toad spoke:
"Darien! Bowser has become more violent than ever before! We fear for our Princess' life!"
To be honest, I feared for Princess Toadstool's life too. Yes, I refer to the Princess here as Princess Toadstool, since that was what Peach was called in the American games back in the day.
Lost Levels World 5Edit
I soon made it to World 5-1 of Lost Levels. This was the world where the strong winds first came into play. The deranged versions of the Goombas, Buzzy Beetles, and Koopas were hear, in the polluted slush that originally was snow. But the red-eyed Bullet Bills were here too, and these also had the abilities of Missile Bill in Super Mario 3--in that they could even turn around to try to get me again. The vine for the Coin Heaven was gone, but it was just as well, as it would've forced me toward the Warp Zone to World 6, and I wanted to avoid Warp Zones since I wanted to see World 9.
When I saw the strong winds activated for the first time, instead of the usual leaves, I saw some bones going by, similar to those that were thrown by the Super Mario World Dry Bones enemies. They didn't damage me, thankfully, but they did kinda creep me out a bit. I soon made it to the goal of this world, and was on my way to World 5-2.
World 5-2 looked like its usual cavern self, even the blue cave for the SNES remake. But the grassy plants were all dead, and many of the lanterns were broken. The demented versions of Buzzy Beetle, red Koopa Troopa, and Goomba were there again. I even saw the occasional discolored Piranha Plants that I first mentioned earlier in this account.
At one part, the Poison Mushroom was already out and hunting for me. But it still did not have the ability to jump or chase me, and I was relieved for that.
The vine to the Warp Zone to World 8 was withered and broken over, and the elevator thing didn't work so the Warp Zone to World 7 was ixnayed as well. But it didn't matter--as again, I wanted to avoid Warp Zones since I wanted to go through World 9. But just before I went up the pipe leading to the Goal Flag, I noticed a pile of brick debris (that is, what looks like the bricks when Super Mario punches a block) practically burying a Toad. He was near death, and before the animation of Mario going through the pipe showed, the timer stopped as the dying Toad spoke:
"Be wary, Mario and Darien! Bowser is planning to pull his apocalypse plan!"
That made me shudder, no doubt about it. But my attention returned to getting to the goal flag.
World 5-3 of the Lost Levels soon stood before me. This was the first of the levels that required me to go down a particular pipe to progress, as failing to do so would cause the level to loop until I did.
Once again, polluted waterfalls--this time, what looked like a maroon toxin--flowed in the background, and red-eyed Bullet Bills, mecha Bloopers, and both deranged Paratroopas were in the area. With a timed jump, I made it to the pipe I was required to descend down. But as I went through the "bonus underground", I saw what looked like morbid graffiti on the above blocks:
"Princess Toadstool's death is near."
Now I was really getting worried. I quickly exited the area and made it to the World 5 Castle.
World 5's castle showed more challenge, though not too much that I hadn't seen in the official Super Mario All Stars. But as I got to a safe block--which was the one that housed a mushroom if I had needed it--I saw a Lakitu flying in the background and hovered toward a lava pit, tossing a helpless Toad into the lava before I could do anything to save the poor guy!
I soon got to Bowser, who was throwing hammers like the Hammer Bros, as well as spitting his usual flame breath. I spammed the crap out of my fireballs again, the last fireball turning him into a Buzzy Beetle just before one hammer got lucky and reverted me back to regular Mario.
"Cheap bastard," I mumbled angrily as I prepared to grab the axe.
I soon found four still living Toads doing some sort of funeral rite to a slain fifth Toad. Even in a 16-bit game's art style, what happened to the fifth Toad was so morbid that I couldn't even bear writing about it here.
One of the Toads turned to me and said:
"Princess Toadstool can't die! Not now! Please hurry and save her, Darien!"
Somehow, this Toad must've seen the graffiti I saw back in the previous section of this world. I felt even more compelled to hurry and finish this game.
Lost Levels World 6Edit
World 6-1 of the Lost Levels soon started for me. Again, dead grass and ashen narrow hills were in the background, as were the sadistically smiling storm clouds and the red glow in the otherwise dark sky.
The altered Buzzy Beetles, Goombas, Green Koopa Troopas, and Bullet Bills were in the area, as were Hammer Bros--but this time, they had in front of them what I could assume were chainsaws. They weren't throwing them, but just held them in front and slowly approached. When they were on the rows of brick blocks, they would both come at me to get to me.
I powered myself back up with a Super Mushroom and quickly snagged a Starman to get through as quick as possible. I then got the Fire Flower and avoided the block that I remembered had a Poison Mushroom in it. Soon, the wind blew again. I didn't bother checking if the pipe near the water worked or not, as I never was successful reaching it anyway. I just simply made my way to the goal as quick as I could.
World 6-2 of the Lost Levels, unlike Super Mario 1, was the other underwater segment--if you didn't include World 9 and after. Red Troopas and Green Paratroopas joined the Bloopers and both colors of mecha Cheep-Cheeps. Luckily, the Koopas didn't include any extra weaponry, just had their demonic grins--or what I could assume demonic grins.
The backdrop showed wrecked coral reefs and canisters of toxins where the background seaweed used to be. The foreground coral was replaced with cans of oil, similar to the ones in the original Donkey Kong, and some of them were seeping the aforementioned black gold.
Now that I was finally fully powered up again, I started spamming the heck out of the fireballs to get through the swimming area in one piece. Sometimes the oil would hit Mario and color him into a black silhouette--thankfully it didn't cause the screen to go black, as I needed to see what was before me. I soon emerged to the other side and got to the flagpole.
World 6-3 here was another of those bridges to dodge or battle the flying Cheep-Cheeps, or in this case mecha Cheep-Cheeps. Red Koopa Troopas and both varieties of Paratroopas were here as well. What caught my attention the most was the background. Because replacing the usual Goomba statues on pedestals were now smokestacks shooting smog into the air. The usual clouds (even those that had the sadistic smiles in this version) were replaced by pulsing smog cover. I was just barely able to see the red glow.
My attention soon returned to the gameplay, as I started to once again spam the crap out of my fireballs, and stomping any Cheep-Cheep I could stomp safely. One Paratroopa I had to jump on as a stepping stone to a higher up "palm-tree" platform so I could get to the flagpole.
The Castle of the Lost Levels' World 6 was yet another one of those where you had to take a particular path. I again was thankful the arrows were "spray-painted" to get me to the correct route.
When I got to Bowser, before the fight started, the timer stopped to show Bowser biting into a helpless Toad's head and showing a motion as though he were chewing and swallowing that morsel. He then threw the victim into the lava below, and the fight commenced. Not to mention the timer resumed.
Aside from the fire breath, he stomped the bridge to make a Podoboo appear from where I last stood before he landed from the jump. I threw fireballs at Bowser, stopping just enough to dodge a Podoboo or a fire breath shot. The defeated Bowser turned into a Blooper and fell into the lava.
When I tagged the axe, I saw the large "turban" the Toads were carrying, but only five Toads held it--perhaps the sixth Toad was the one Bowser was eating earlier?
The text above read:
"Follow us, Mario and Darien! We must hurry to save the princess!"
I definitely couldn't argue with them. I eagerly prepared to take on World 7 of the Lost Levels.
Lost Levels World 7Edit
World 7 of the Lost Levels was another "night" level. The first segment started out with wind carrying me over a large gap. But I had to watch myself because the discolored piranha plants emerged from ceiling pipes--just as regular ones did in the normal Super Mario All-Stars cart. The water was now purple "poison water", once again a bit early since it first officially appeared in New Super Mario. The bonus room pipes didn't work--the pipe looked broken, but then, it was a long route instead of a shortcut anyway. As I got close to the goal flag, I noticed some Zelda-style gravestones. I quickly as I could touched the goal flag so I wouldn't have to dwell on that thought for long.
World 7-2 was another of the levels were a player was required to take a pipe, or the level would loop. When I went into the "bonus" room, a message was scrawled in red graffiti:
"Don't you know Koopa has already won?"
I brushed it off as a mind trick by Bowser and went through the pipe. But the firebars here had charred Toad corpses strapped to them as well. Sounds like Bowser REALLY wanted to solidify his reign here. Being careful yet quick, I made it to the goal flag.
World 7-3 of Lost Levels was made gray-ish, similar to how World 6-3 was in the original NES Super Mario. And indeed in the original Japanese SMB2, World 7-3 was grayish as well. But, this was also the infamous world where one needed to ride the wind and use the super-powered springs to get across.
I did so, remembering what I learned in the official Super Mario All-Stars cart, but as I landed on some of the tree platforms, I noticed the dead bodies of Toads hanging on nooses under the "treetops".
"What was going on in Marv's mind at the time?" I whispered to myself.
I continued on, being thankful whenever I landed on a safe platform near a spring, and got to the World 7-3 castle.
World 7-4, the castle here, had that one lava pit where I had to carefully land on a moving platform. The fire breath of Bowser came earlier when I rode the elevator platforms.
The window just before the solid platform before Bowser's bridge--the one above a platform with a firebar, showed an animated silhouette in the thunderstorm of what I could only assume is a Hammer Brother beheading a helpless Toad.
Soon, I made it to Bowser. Before the battle started, the timer stopped briefly, just enough for Bowser to speak:
"Just go back to the human world. The Mushroom Kingdom is done like dinner!"
Aside from the fire breath and the thrown hammers, Bowser would cause a "wave" of Podoboos to launch across, just by landing from a jump. I had to do some hit and run tactics with my fireballs, but when the last one hit, Bowser turned into a Hammer Brother and sank into the lava.
I made it to the other side and saw the seven small Toads tide to poles, and six of which were in states of decay--as best that could be depicted at that size. The seventh Toad, still alive, said:
"Please, Darien! There is still hope!"
Lost Levels World 8Edit
I soon made it to World 8-1. Again the sadistic dark clouds and red glow greeted me. Goombas, Green Troopas, Red Paratroopas, and Buzzy Beetles were there. There were two types of Hammer Bros here. One type had the usual hammers, but others came at me with chainsaws.
The background capsule-like hills were all brown or gray as well, indicating their war-torn appearance.
There were Bullet Bill Cannons as well, and some of these took the page from Missile Bill and turned around to come after me again.
I did not take the warp pipe--even if it did work--because the "bonus area" led to the warp zone that led back to World 5. As I said many times, I wanted to unlock World 9. I just kept going and made it to the Goal Flag.
World 8-2 started with Green Troopas, Red, Paratroopas, Buzzy Beetles, and the chainsaw-wielding Hammer Bros. The hills had the colorful brown tones, but some of them had flames atop them, as if another battle was starting on each of those.
The vine had already been grown, since one needed to climb the vine to reach the Goal Flag there. But even up there, it was dark, with some flashes of lightning--so I had a taste of what 8-3 was going to be here.
As predicted, World 8-3 was in a stormy sky. Occasional lightning flashes and rumbles of thunder occurred, as Red Troopas, red and green Paratroopas, Lakitu, and Spiny were here. The Hammer Bros in this case held axes instead of hammers.
I raced through as possible, as I wanted to avoid any gang attacks if I could help it. But when I touched the goal flag, just as Mario was about to go into the castle, the clouds crumbled away, and Mario fell and landed in some foliage, but he had that pose similar to when a player lost a life in the original Donkey Kong. Then, there was a screen transition, not unlike the animation of when one transferred from Light World to Dark World or vice versa in Zelda: Link to the Past.
World 8-4 Castle of Lost Levels was the same route as it had been in the All Stars cart, but the aesthetics added some more terror. As I carefully leapt over the big lava pit, I saw some Toads being tossed through windows into said lava. I went through the correct pipe and made it to the swimming portion.
While dodging the fire bars, I noticed some more drowned Toads tied to various weights. I was glad I made it through the swimming area, but then saw another horror. The overhang over the next pipe showed another dead Toad hanging from a noose over the next pipe.
The next hall had two Poison Mushrooms were ready for me between the two pipes surrounding the Bowser Statue. And on that Bowser Statue was a Toad impaled on the back spikes. I got past the two Poison Mushrooms with one lucky jump, but you can imagine I was freaked out at the scene.
The final hall, that led to Bowser, had the coin blocks blocking the trick pipe that led all the way back to the beginning, so at least that one headache was gone. When I made it, though, it was an SNES version of Dry Bowser--which was odd because he wouldn't appear until the first New Super Mario game. I spammed the crap out of my fireballs as I dodged the blue fire breath and his thrown bones. Dry Bowser fell into the lava below.
When I made it to Princess Toadstool, I was horrified to see her lying on a platform--a platform rather than a hanging cage--dead.
Mario spoke to me:
"This is only a bad dream, Darien.
"We can still save the Princess.
"Go through World 9 and help me wake up!"
Lost Levels World 9Edit
World 9-1 had a sort of surreal sky and polka-dotted hill, completely different from the post-apocalyptic landscape I had seen so far. When I entered the water below, it got even more surreal.
The water had an almost cotton-candy pink tint, and the coral was alive--but had really weird shapes to them. Normally I'd expect a lot of enemies here--Buzzy Beetles, green Paratroopas, Bloopers, Lakitu, Spiny, and Hammer Bros--but here, World 9-1 was devoid of ANY enemies. Even the Bullet Bill cannons were defunct.
But I wasn't complaining. I went swimming through the weird watery world and made it to the first goal post.
World 9-2 had more of the pink water and weird underwater area. Lakitu did appear, but instead of dropping Spiny Eggs, he was dropping coins. The Piranha Plants were absent here.
"Could all this be Mario's weird dreams as he struggles to regain consciousness?" I asked.
But I kept going as usual, and soon made it to the goal flag.
World 9-3 was the "Desert Castle", as I called it in Super Mario All-Stars, as it made one face Bowser earlier than usual. But instead of even the black sky with red glow, I saw some blue flames in the background. This was not hard to imagine, as the SNES was capable of making REALLY cool backgrounds that were animated--but then, even many of the late NES carts could pull it off to a small extent.
Still, blue flames in the background... I was wondering if I had entered hell itself.
The trees were replaced with poles with skulls on them, and the wooden fences were replaced with large metal fences with spikes atop them. I didn't bother taking any of the shortcuts, or trying them, since I doubted any worked at all. I just made it to Bowser--or rather, Dry Bowser again--and again attacked before I could be damaged. I then got to the Goal Flag, relieved this was all over.
In World 9-4, I once again was in the cotton-candy pink waters of a surreal world. It was devoid of all enemies, unlike what it usually was. I just swam on, past the Japanese characters--I did research and learned it spelled "Arigatou!" ("Thank you!")--and soon made it to the big castle that ended World 9. Soon, the warping transition animation showed again, and we see Mario waking up from the grass he landed in earlier. He then walked out of the castle and onto the starting point of World A.
Lost Levels World AEdit
I began World A of the Lost Levels. These were even more advanced versions of Worlds I had already cleared. And once again, we were back to the red glow amongst a dark sky, sadistic clouds, and other stuff I had mentioned in previous levels. Again, some ashen gray hills greeted me too, as did broken fences and splintered trunks where the trees once were. Both varieties of Troopas and Paratroopas were about.
Neither the Coin Heaven vine nor the Bonus Room pipe worked, but that mattered little to me, as they were not much of shortcuts anyway. But, I did see a Poison Mushroom chase me, and this time around, it was even able to scale walls. I ran like hell and got away--I was lucky when it fell into a pit and didn't climb back out. Some more Piranha Plants were there, and I took them out with fireballs before they could be a threat. I made it to the goal flag with a sigh of relief, but I knew this was just the beginning.
World A-2 was an underground level, with Hammer Brothers and Bullet Bills shooting outta nowhere. The Hammer Brothers had the hammers with spikes on the flat side of the hammers' heads. And the Bullet Bills also shot at diagonals, similar to what they did in some Super Mario World levels.
But the backdrop was what really got me here. It appeared as the normal cave level, and even the lights were functioning. But on some of the wood timbers were Toads impaled through the chest. Some were already dead, and others on their death throes.
"Man!" I thought. "Marv must've had something REALLY wrong go on in his life to use this to vent."
Since I passed World 9, I could've used warp zones if I wanted to, as there was a Warp Zone to continue on to World B. I didn't, though. I just continued on to the main exit pipe to continue to World A-3.
World A-3 had the nuclear missiles replacing the Goomba Statue pillars again, and instead of bridge segments, there were cloud platforms, similar to what I saw back in World 8-3. Both Paratroopas, the mecha Bloopers, and hopping red mecha Cheep-Cheeps were here to greet me. An occasional flash of lightning and boom of thunder added to the sinister feel of the world.
This was another place to use a Warp Zone if I felt like it, this one to World C. But I didn't bother, though. I just continued on to the Castle of World A.
World A's castle was a more advanced version of one of the castles I faced in the previous eight--I just forgot which one at the time I was writing this. But this one had a longer firebar where a regular-sized firebar once was. This area even had some Bullet Bill cannons--or in the case of this altered game, Missile Bills. I myself was amazed I was able to get through this with my Fire Flower power still intact.
As soon as I got to Bowser, he spoke before the fight:
"I see you got through my nightmare. It won't be long till it becomes real!"
Bowser then spat out fire breath which exploded into six fireballs. Luckily the shrapnel was slow, and he spat once fire breath at a time. I threw fireballs at him, stopping only to dodge attacks, and he turned into a Buzzy Beetle and fell into the lava below.
I tagged the axe and made it to four Toads. Three were dead, impaled on poles, and the fourth one was still alive--and obviously traumatized. He said:
"Hurry, Darien! There's still time to save the Princess!"
Lost Levels World BEdit
World B-1 started, and Green Troopas, Green Paratroopas, and Buzzy Beetles served as the "welcoming" committee. Oh, I forgot to mention in World A that a lot of these stages had the winds blowing, same here in World B. But in this version of the game, occasionally some tornadoes would emerge from the pits, similar to the twister found in Super Mario 3. Luckily they allowed me to cross gaps instead of try to suck me in--that was one thing I didn't need.
The distant hills also mixed things up a bit. Some of the hills were currently on fire, aside from those already ashen gray. That really caught me by surprise. But then, the SNES did have capabilities of making some effects like that. I didn't let that get to me, and I made it to the goal flag with little problems.
World B-2 was an underwater level, and this one had the Green Troopas and Green Paratroopas, aside from the usual aquatic enemies. This one not only had canisters of toxins in the background, but even darkish smudges that I could only assume to be oil spills of some sort.
As I was swimming, I also noticed on what was the "replacements" of the coral poles were thick metal poles with Toads tied to them. Some had just drowned, while a few were recently placed there, as they were flailing to try to get free to the surface. I tried to use fireballs to free them, but to no avail. There was nothing I could do but just keep swimming.
Near the end was a big firebar, and some drowned corpses of Toads were even toasted on it. Timing a swim, I made it to the exit pipe and to the goal flag.
World B-3 was similar to World 1-3, as it was once again the polluted waterfalls in the background and the tree platforms. Red Troopas, both varieties of Paratroopas, and this time, Bullet Bills (these ones didn't turn like Missile Bills, thankfully) were here.
But there was another type of Troopa there--a dark blue one. It marched back and forth on the platforms like a red Troopa, but a little quicker. When I stomped on it, it stayed in its shell, and then exploded like a Bob-Omb enemy. This shocked me at first, but then remembered a similar turtle enemy in Super Mario Land for Game Boy. Maybe this was a sort of nod to that enemy.
There were large gaps in the stage, and I needed to leap on red Paratroopas to cross them safely, but cross I did and made it to the castle.
World B's castle was a rather odd one. I did not take any of the pipes, as three of which led back to the beginning, and the fourth led to the Warp Zone to World D. Since I cleared World 9, I could've taken any if I wanted, but chose not to.
I made it to Bowser, and he spoke:
"I see you met the Nokobons outside--Tatanga taught me how to make them!"
I was surprised he knew of Tatanga, the villain of Super Mario Land on Game Boy. But I guess this explained the exploding turtles earlier--they were called Nokobon, and they didn't get an English version name, unlike Koopa enemies here in the USA. I just spammed the crap out of my fireballs, as he had just the two shot fire breath here. When he was defeated, he turned into one of those dark blue Koopas. The shell just exploded--thankfully I was far enough away that it couldn't hurt me--and I went for the axe at the end.
All five Toads here were still alive, but they had either limbs in slings or casts, or had them amputated. One Toad spoke:
"Bowser has even made pacts with outside enemies! Please stop the madness, Darien!"
Lost Levels World CEdit
World C was the last of the nighttime levels in Super Mario Lost Levels. It also had the polluted slush that was supposed to be snow here. Both kinds of Paratroopas, and Buzzy Beetles, were here. The Hammer Brothers had with them small axes to throw at me.
The fences here were broken, and the small hills in the distance were as desolate as ever. Some even had smoke with what I can guess are campfires. The trees also were naught but splintered stumps now.
As I went through the first part of World C, the Poison Mushroom was out, and it was lucky enough to hit me and revert me back to regular Mario. Luckily, I was able to find a Super Mushroom and get back to Super Mario. Now I needed to use extra caution till I can get Fire Flower power back.
At once part, the wind helped me get across one of the larger gaps, and I made it to the goal flag.
World C-2 was an early treetop platform instance, with leaping mecha Cheep-Cheeps, flying mecha Bloopers, red Troopas, green Paratroopas, and Bullet Bills (these didn't turn like the Missile Bills, thankfully).
On some of the treetops, I again saw corpses of Toads hanging on nooses. Could this be some sort of Mushroom genocide that Bowser was committing?
Some of the gaps I had to leap on Bloopers or Bullet Bills to cross, and others I got help from the strong winds. And in one area, I was able to get my Fire Flower power back. Now to just hang on to it.
I soon made it to the Goal Flag, and braced myself for World C-3.
World C-3 was similar to World 7-3, except with both Paratroopas and Lakitu arriving, and of course, Lakitu adding Spinies to make things even harder. Everything in the landscape was gray, like World 6-3 in the NES original of Super Mario Bros.
Once again I used the wind to make it across the large gaps, as well as the super springs.
At some parts, I saw pipes having the discolored Piranha Plants, and I really had to mind my steps.
The final steps before the castle had some firebars, and I was shocked to see burnt corpses of Toads tied to them as well. Bowser was serious in his conquests here. I soon made it to the castle, preparing for my next fight with Bowser.
World C-4 was similar to one of the castles--I again forgot which one--where I needed to carefully land on a platform dangerously close to lava, except here there were more firebars.
Around the second big lava pit, I saw the background door open, and a Hammer Brother was holding a Toad flailing for dear life, just before he tossed it onto the firebar, practically roasting it alive! I could even hear a scream similar to what a Toad screams in later Mario games.
Some more fire breath shots came for me to dodge. Even I myself was impressed when I finally made it with Fire Flower power in tow.
When I arrived at Bowser's bridge, he said:
"Do you like roast or fried mushrooms? I sure do! Even better if they're roast or fried Toads!"
The fight soon began, and the firebar even moved back and forth, totally different from the normal firebars. And Bowser himself spat fireballs AND threw hammers. I spammed the fireballs like all hell, and the fake Bowser again turned into a Hammer Brother and fell into the lava.
After tagging the axe, I made it to the other room, and saw six of the seven small Toads squashed by a large block of bricks. The remaining living Toad said:
"Hurry, Mario and Darien! The Princess is in the next castle! There's still time!"
Lost Levels World DEdit
I was at last at World D, the final world of the Lost Levels. The capsule-like hills were brown and ash gray, to once again contrast with the red glow in the dark sky.
The patches of grass were now replaced with thorn brambles.
Green Troopas, red Paratroopas, Buzzy Beetles, Hammer Brothers (with regular hammers), and Bullet Bills were the challenges to face in this stage.
This time around, the Poison Mushrooms were gone, replaced with just regular coins in their blocks. I guess the Poison Mushrooms didn't want to bother me anymore.
The shortcut pipes were smashed up, so I just had to continue on as normal. But the wind carried me across a big pool of water, and I made it out of the way to avoid being hit by a Bullet Bill.
It didn't take me TOO long to reach the Goal Flag.
More brown and ash gray capsule hills greeted my sight in World D-2. Both styles of Troopa, both styles of Paratroopa, and the Buzzy Beetles greeted me, as did the discolored Piranha Plants in some pipes.
The bonus room pipe was totally broken, and the vine to Coin Heaven was withered. But the bonus room was not much a shortcut anyway, and the Coin Heaven actually sent me back a few steps, so it really didn't matter that much. I just kept going and made it to the Goal Flag--there really wasn't much to threaten me, except for perhaps an occasional gust of wind that could've pushed me into an enemy.
World D-3 was very much like World 8-3 back in the original Super Mario 1.
Both styles of Troopa, the green Paratroopa, Bullet Bills (with an occasional Missile Bill), and Hammer Brothers carrying axes instead of hammers all greeted me in this area.
Atop some of the gatehouses--if you can call them that--were some Toads tied to poles, and some of them are already dead. Perhaps they died of starvation or thirst, but in any case, they were just left there to die.
At the big line of Bullet Bill cannons just before the Goal Flag, I saw a Paratroopa drop a Toad in front of a cannon and get hit by a Bullet Bill, basically putting a large hole through its body, complete with some red pixels that can only assumed to be blood.
I made it to the Goal Flag, and prepared for the final battle.
World D-4, the very last stage of the game, was not as maze-like as its predecessors, but still a challenge.
I had to time a jump just right to get past the giant firebar, then slid under the other firebar just right.
I continued as normal, stopping from time to time to pass other firebars, and went down the first pipe.
The next room was similar to a regular overworld, aside from the changes, naturally. Some more Toads were impaled on poles--some already dead, others on their death throes. I got through their as quick as I can to the next pipe before I ended up getting nightmare fodder in my head. With a running jump I made it to the next side.
The bonus room had coins, but I saw a Dry Bowser skull in the background where Mario's cheerful face should be.
After making it out of the other pipe, I ran from the fake Bowser. I did not dare go down the other pipe, as it just led right back to the beginning. I made it to Bowser, and he spoke:
"I was just about to sacrifice the princess for immortality. I'll just get you outta the way first!"
Human sacrifice in a Mario game?! I know something close to it happened in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, but not THIS soon in the Mario series.
I spammed the hell out of my Fireballs, and the real Bowser fell into the lava, before he got too abusive. He only spat out one fire breath and threw a few hammers, but I didn't wanna take any chances--I didn't want to see what else he was capable of.
I made it to the floating platform--it was just a floating platform, no cage--and reached the princess. She had her arm in a sling, but otherwise was alive.
The closeup of Mario and Princess Toadstool was almost a 16-bit version of the ending scene in Super Mario Deluxe for Game Boy Color. Again, the princess' arm was in a sling, but she was otherwise alive. She gave a kiss to Mario and said:
"Thank you Mario! Let us now rebuild and restore the kingdom to its former glory!"
I turned off the game, relieved that I was done with it.
But something nagged me in the back of my mind. It was meant to be a Halloween themed remake, but I never thought it'd be that macabre.
What could've inspired Marv to make that version? I couldn't ask him personally, since he's no longer with us. But surely he must've confided in someone of what got Marv to make it. Perhaps he had a traumatic experience similar to what inspired the creation of Gigyas from Earthbound.
I'm writing to Nintendo again to find out what could've inspired Marv to make this version. I've also recorded gameplay footage, as I often do for posterity. Once I get this on a DVD, I'll send this to Nintendo.
I MUST find out what was going on with Marv at the time.
My inquiring mind wants to know.