As a kid, I managed to beat most of the classic Mario games within a reasonable amount of time and effort, but Super Mario 2 was the one game that gave me so much trouble that I spent hours, days, weeks, months on it, always getting just a little bit closer to World 7 than last time, only to take a Bob-Omb or Snifit bullet to the face and Game Over until all my continues were squandered (I had already read, courtesy of the Mario Mania Player’s Guide, that the Japanese Mario 2 - The Lost Levels - was oodles harder, so my ten-year-old mind was pretty much blown).

It took me clear until a month or two before the All-Stars remake came out to beat the NES version (the SNES version was a breeze, since it saved your game at each world), and with how difficult the road was, each new thing in the game left a very lasting impression on me, in much the same way EarthBound Zero would seven years later.

There was just something about World 6-3… the huge, forbidding cave entrance (which in the SNES version was modified to a portcullis with a carved Bob-Omb emblem overhead), the quicksand shortcut (which I didn’t discover until much later), and oh my word the Triclyde room. I have seen this room in my dreams - not all of which were nightmares, but pretty darn close. You have to build up a wall of three Mushroom Blocks, and until then, you’re completely open and exposed to the fire blasts from Triclyde, as he looms above you threateningly from that isolated platform.

It’s scary! My little ten-year-old heart was pounding. Triclyde was pretty freaky in 2-3, but that was nothing compared to this! (And drat Nintendo for replacing this boss fight with Mouser in Super Mario Advance.)

Also, this is something of a tangent, but while I’m on the subject of SMB2, the Bob-Omb battlefield that is 5-3 also deserves a mention. Not only was I captivated by the Warp Jar at the beginning that takes you to freakin’ World 7, but if you make it past all the Albatosses and Bob-Ombs, you hit a series of giant, red tree trunks; and your road takes you underground, in the direction you came from, so that you find the roots of the giant trees you saw just moments before, and you even get to enter one and climb up it from the hollowed-out inside.

I loved all those neat, dreamlike things the NES had to offer. Of course, this IS Subcon, so no wonder it’s dreamlike.