If you’ve played the game, then you need no further explanation — you know what I’m talking about.
For everyone else, the first thing you see after selecting your character (and the screen telling you how many lives you have and which course you’re on) is said character falling down from this door that sits high in the air, well out of reach of any of the game’s high jumpers. And even if they could jump that high, it matters not; without firm footing beneath the door’s frame, the rules of the game won’t allow you to enter it anyway.
Not that this stopped me from trying as a kid. I always felt like if I could just press “Up” on the Dpad fast enough, I could get through and discover the wonders that lay beyond. Alas, try as I might, it was never to be.
But why did I want to see what was on the other side of the door so badly? Well, curiosity would be one thing, of course. But in my young mind, I already knew what was there — I just wanted to see it for myself.
You see, according to Super Mario Bros. 2‘s story, Mario discovered a long stairway leading to a door, on the other side of which was Subcon — the Land of Dreams that is the setting for the entire game. After waking up, Mario and his friends go on a picnic and explore a nearby cave, where they discover the same stairway and door as in his dream before proceeding through it.
With that, it’s not hard to do the math. For a time, I believed that maybe, just maybe, if I could get through that door, I might discover the Mushroom Kingdom. Not quite the same one as in Super Mario Bros., mind, but one in the style of this game, Super Mario Bros. 2. And maybe I could see some new areas as well!
When you have that kind of logic driving you, what young fan of the young series wouldn’t spend their time trying to get through that door, resetting after each failed attempt? If you put a Super Mario Bros. 2-styled game set in the Mushroom Kingdom in front of me right now, I’d play the hell out of it.
Growing older and wiser, though, I naturally came to better understand the nature of game logic, development, and all that fun jazz. As a result, I gave up on the prospect of ever finding out what was behind that door. It was probably nothing more than a set piece, a decoration to tie the game into the story preceding it anyway, right?
But what if it wasn’t?
Upon deciding to do this article, I decided to look up whether anyone had managed to discover what was on the other side of the door. Honestly, I’m surprised it took me this long to do so, but I nonetheless discovered the following video by YouTube user “gonaone” from only five years ago, wherein they use a level editor to create the necessary conditions to allow Mario to finally exit Subcon the way he came in:
It’s not going to surprise you if I tell you this isn’t as grand as I had imagined all those years ago, is it?
Still, it’s nice to get a little bit of closure and know that there actually is something behind that door.
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.