When I made my list of Mario games to play/replay it never occurred to me to put The Lost Levels on the list. It was mostly just an oversight, but The Lost Levels is an entirely unnecessary addition to the series. I’ve dabbled with it in the past, but quickly came to the absolutely correct conclusion that the Super Mario Bros 2 we got in America was the better game and the more important addition to the series. Still, when I decided that I would freshen up my replays of the NES games by playing the Super Mario All-Stars version of the games, I realized that there was fourth game on that cart and needed to play The Lost Levels to really do this thing right.
Everything good about the The Lost Levels can be found in the original Super Mario Bros. Almost everything new it adds is strictly worse than what came before it. Like the poison mushroom. It is the opposite of the power up mushroom, but the game is already full of ways to take that power up from the player, it didn’t need one more to just make things even more difficult. Difficult this game is; it is very much Super Mario Bros for super players, a category of people that I do not fall in. All of this is not to say that The Lost Levels is without its charms; it is more Super Mario Bros which is never a bad thing. It may be harder in some generally unfun ways, but the core game is still that same Mario goodness and no amount of poison mushrooms or invisible blocks can destroy that completely.
The good news is that Nintendo seems to have learned the right lessons from this game. None of the Mario games after this, even those that are definitely sequels, rely on bullshit difficulty like this game. It is a one off for the series, a dead end that is honestly better left forgotten or as just a footnote to the proper Super Mario Bros series. This post comes off as an afterthought because it is. I’m sorry for not engaging more fully with this game, but there is little here I enjoy; I’d rather just move on to good Mario games, like every other game in the series but this one.