smb2starthumbOne of the worst-kept secrets in gaming is quite possibly that before arriving in the U.S., Super Mario Bros. 2 was another game in Japan, a non-Mario title named Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic.

To that end, a lot of people figure that the Mario-fied version is just a straight swapping-out of pixel art, with Mario and friends replacing Imajin and his family, mushrooms in place of masks, and that’s that. There’s actually more to it than that — quite a bit, actually — but today I want to focus on something that surprisingly wasn’t the subject of such a change, even though one could easily be forgiven for thinking that it was.

In case the title of this piece didn’t give it away, I am of speaking, of course, about the Starman — or Super Star, as it’s more commonly known these days. In Super Mario Bros. 2, gathering five cherries that are floating throughout each of the worlds will summon the item from somewhere below the bottom of the screen, rising up while moving back and forth in a pattern that can sometimes be quite vexing — particularly in vertically-oriented levels that don’t allow you to cross from one side of the screen to the other. When Mario or one of his allies grabs the shining star, they become invincible for a matter of moments, all while the familiar tune from the same sequence in the original Super Mario Bros. plays.

Much like Subspace, it’s a familiar bit of home to light your darkest hours in an unfamiliar world.

Before it became Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, the game Nintendo was working on was designed to be not unlike Super Mario Bros., and combined with how much has remained with the series, I’ve long wondered if it wasn’t originally planned to be a Mario game all along before Nintendo made their arrangement with Fuji TV. Regardless, Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic wasn’t a Mario game, which is why it’s all the more peculiar that the very symbol of Mario’s iconic invincible state would have been used in the game when nothing else of the sort was — even if they did use different music for that sequence, anyway.

Of course, the Starman wasn’t the only carryover from Mario into the world of Doki Doki Panic, though it seems safe to say the other didn’t become quite as famous until it appeared in Super Mario Bros. 2. The POW Block from the arcade game Mario Bros. made its return, now with a red coloration, as throwable item that could be used only once instead of three times.

Looking back, it’s interesting to see that not only has Super Mario Bros. 2 had a significant impact on the franchise, but that in some effect, Mario items would appear in Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic even before it was repackaged to be a part of the Mario series proper.

The Super Mario Bros. 2 Project mission statement and index.

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)


  • Kopejka Sobáka

    you’re right—Dream Machine (that’s the official localized English name)—started out as a tech demo for a vertical scrolling Mario game since Miyamoto figured SMB1 already conquered the horizontal scroller.