Super Mario Bros. (Vs.): Classic Arcade Game Video, History & Game Play Overview


Vs. Super Mario Bros. was authored by Nintendo in 1986, just a year after the release of the original title. These two titles are very similar at first look, but it is the subtle differences that make Vs. Super Mario Bros. unique. Created specifically for the arcade, Vs. Super Mario Bros. can be played by one or two players by taking turns.

Originally created for the arcade, Vs. Super Mario Bros. is considered to be the most popular and innovative video game of the 1980s. While the original Super Mario Bros. was specifically created for home gaming use, Vs. Super Mario Bros. manages to recreate that same magic and translate into a great arcade title. The main difference between Vs. Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. lies in how a few particular levels are setup. Certain levels that appear in Super Mario Bros. have been altered or moved around, creating variation and excitement for players.



In Vs. Super Mario Bros., Mario and Luigi are back, but they are on a new mission. The plumber brothers have come to a place called the Mushroom Kingdom in order to rescue the Princess Toadstool from King Bowser. The spiky shelled turtle is Mario and Luigi’s main nemesis, and they battle him several times over in Super Mario Bros.

Vs. Super Mario Bros. is noticeably more difficult than Super Mario Bros. On many levels, there are larger numbers of enemies and fewer power-ups. Made up of eight main stages, there are four sub-levels in each world. The Mushroom King and all of his subjects have been transformed into inanimate objects while King Bowser’s evil minions are free to roam the Mushroom Kingdom.

In this sequel, Luigi and Mario come armed with several new and exciting powers. In addition to the 32 regular boards, there are also numerous bonus stages and worlds that the brothers can visit. The ultimate goal of Vs. Super Mario Bros. is to reach the very last dungeon and defeat King Bowser in order to rescue the Princess.

Each stage has a time limit in which players have to reach the final part of the stage, which consists of a castle and a flagpole. When Mario or Luigi have successfully completed a level, they will climb up the flagpole and a final score will be tabulated.

Enemies abound in Vs. Super Mario Bros., but luckily, their placement and movements are typically predictable. Some opponents can be eliminated by squashing them, but others have to be kicked. A few varieties of enemies have weapons that they can use to destroy you, which means that you will need to time your attacks or shoot fireballs at them.

Mean looking mushrooms called Goomba are pretty standard fair in Vs. Super Mario Bros. Jump on their heads to take them out. Turtles, also known as Koopa Troopa, come with or without wings. Regular walking turtles need to be kicked twice, while winged turtles can actually fly. A well timed attack in the air will turn them into standard Koopa Troopas.

Axe wielding turtles are dangerous as they will throw a series of projectiles at Mario and Luigi before backing down for a few moments. Jumping up and hitting the ground underneath an axe wielding turtle will destroy it as will fireballs.

Bullet machines spit super-sized bullets at the Mario Bros. You can stop the bullets by hopping on them, but these enemies cannot be stopped.

Green and red puffer fish only reside under water, but they have been known to jump high into the sky. You can kick them in mid-air when they come out of the water, or shoot a fireball at them while you are swimming.

Man-eating plants primarily peek out of the top of pipes, but their timing can be tricky. These enemies can only be killed with fireballs or avoided.

Snails are completely protected by their massive shells, making them impervious to jump attacks as well as fireballs. A running kick will stop them in their tracks.

Spiny armadillos are generated by a happy, smiling cloud that will follow you around on certain stages. The spiny beasts can be killed with firepower, but you will have to be more creative to get to the clouds. Spiny armadillos come out of eggs, so you will have a few seconds until they hatch into their fully developed form.

Squid are another water based enemy that can easily create chaos. Only the fireball feature works against them.

Lava balls only appear when you are on dungeon levels. As you walk across bridges, be careful for lava balls that shoot out from underneath.

King Bowser is considered Mario and Luigi’s mortal foe for several reasons. First, players have to battle Bowser a total of eight times. Secondly, Bowser is armed with a spiked shell that makes him almost impossible to defeat from behind. Lastly, Bowser has the ability to shoot fire. Simply wait for him to get a safe distance back, and then hit the rope that secures the bridge that he stands on in order to defeat him.

Special Features

By destroying mystery blocks, Luigi and Mario can temporarily attain special features. While the mushroom always makes the Mario brothers super-sized, the mystery block can also contain coins, flowers, green mushrooms or stars. Flowers give Mario and Luigi the power to shoot fireballs. Green mushrooms give players an extra life, coins yield extra points and stars make players completely impervious to attacks.

Occasionally, players will have the ability to reach different bonus stages that contain coins. These bonus levels are accessible by pipes and vines.


Mario – The main character in Vs. Super Mario Bros. is the character that wears the red jumpsuit. Mario has all of the same abilities as Luigi.

Pipes - By running into special mushrooms, they become twice their normal size.

The Princess – Kidnapped by King Bowser, the Princess remains locked away in a dark dungeon until she is rescued by the Mario Bros.

Luigi – Luigi is Mario’s brother and sidekick. Player two always assumes the role of Luigi, who wears a green jumpsuit.

Enemies – Over a dozen foes await Luigi and Mario in Vs. Super Mario Bros. Hit them with fireballs, squash them or kick them in order to advance.

King Bowser – This spiky shelled turtle fights Mario and Luigi numerous times in the game. This is also the character that has caused chaos in the Mushroom Kingdom and placed the Princess in a desolate dungeon.

Coins – Collecting coins helps players to earn points. Coins can be located on the ground level, high in the sky or in other inconvenient locations.

How to Play Vs. Super Mario Bros.

While the main objective of Vs. Super Mario Bros. is to get to Princess and rescue her, there are numerous secondary goals. Making it through each timed stage presents a challenge as there are many enemies as well as distractions. Thankfully, Vs, Super Mario Bros. is also filled with numerous bonus items that aid players on their quest.

Enemies can either be defeated or avoided, depending on their variety as well as where they are located. When Mario and Luigi are in their original small form, a single hit from an enemy will cause them to lose a life. As soon as you can, locate an upgrade so that you have the fireball ability are super-sized or both. This will allow you to take more hits without dying.

The eight worlds in Vs. Super Mario Bros. are separated into four sub-categories. The last part always takes place in a dungeon where a boss fight with King Bowser commences.

World 1

In the first part of Super Mario Bros., a tiny version of Mario appears along a brick road. In front of him lies several mystery blocks as well as a few brick blocks. There will also be a single Goomba. Run until he is past the Goomba or squash it. One of the mystery blocks will contain a green mushroom that gives player an extra turn.

After that, a series of pipes await. The fourth pipe will take players to a bonus room filled with coins. Be sure to hit all the remaining mystery blocks because one contains a regular mushroom and the other contains a flower.

This stage is much darker than the previous level, but all of the same enemies will be present. Players will be required to do a lot of jumping and break a good number of brick blocks. After running past the two Goombas, hit all four of the mystery boxes.

One of the pipes on this level will lead to hidden coin room. You can bypass this pipe and skip a portion of the level, or continue running toward the right. At the very end of the stage, there will two double platforms that move up and down. Jumping up the second set of platforms leads you to a portal. From here, players can choose to go to the next stage, or head to level three or four. While you will be able to get further in the game faster by bypassing levels, you will also miss the opportunity to earn additional coins.

Most of this stage consists of tree shaped platforms guarded by Goombas and turtles. In between each platform is a hole that players have to hop over. If you misjudge a jump, you will fall to your death.

While this stage holds many coins, it also requires great skill to complete. A few inconveniently place mystery boxes will test players’ ability to manage their time as well as avoid oncoming enemies.

Right in front of the flagpole is a staircase that is impossible to jump on if Mario or Luigi are in their small form. You either take a running jump off of the platform directly to the left, or kill the turtle and use its shell as a stepping ladder.

Making your way through dungeon stages is similar to running a gauntlet. Fire-filled pits and flaming bars will inhibit your path as you make your way to Bowser. At the end of the stage, Bowser will stand on a bridge. Above his head is a moving platform, and behind him is an axe.

You can either hit Bowser with five fireballs, or jump over his head and smash the rope that holds the bridge in place. Once defeated, players see a message that informs them that the Princess is in a different castle.

World 2

Besides the area right before the flagpole, stage 2-1 is fairly straightforward. There are a couple of large holes that require players to take well timed jumps, and a vine that leads to a hidden coin room toward the middle of the level.

A springboard, one unbreakable block and two brick blocks lie directly in front of the flagpole. You can jump on the springboard repeatedly until you get to the flagpole, or use the brick blocks to jump on the unbreakable platform.

When working on water levels, Mario and Luigi are extremely susceptible to enemy attacks until they attain the fireball power. For this reason, it is best to walk along the bottom until you reach the right mystery box.

Any breaks on the bottom of the sea is a danger zone. You will have to swim furiously until you get past this area. Puffer fish are pretty easy to swim past, but squid can move quite erratically. Travel through the end of the pipe sticking out of the wall in order to advance to the next board.

On this stage, you will see puffer fish again, but this time they will be jumping through the air. Time all of your movements directly after the puffer fish begin to descent downward. You will need to jump over many gaps and hop on any puffer fish that surprise you.

With the exception of the flaming bars, this dungeon level should be easy to get through. A few shooting lava balls will also come out of the fire that is located between gaps. Locate Bowser, annihilate him and walk to the statute to progress.

World 3

The axe wielding turtles make their first appearance here. Once defeated, hit the mystery block to the far right and a vine will be revealed. You can use this vine to reach one of the hidden coin rooms.

Consisting mainly of Goombas and turtles, this stage entails more running and jumping than anything else. If you jump up and hit the mystery block that appears between the two brick walls on the ground, you can obtain the star feature. From here, you will have 30 seconds to kill all of your enemies with a single touch and collect as many coins as you can.

There will be tree-shaped platforms and scale platforms for Mario and Luigi to deal with on this stage. Jump from platform to platform, and move fast when you are on the scales. The last set of scale platforms appear in front of the end stage flagpole. Stand on the left-most part of the scale until it gets very low, then jump on the right part of the scale. This will enable you to reach the flagpole safely.

Evade the shooting lava balls, flaming bars and pits on your way to Bowser. This fight will be the same as others, with the rope appearing behind him and the moving platform over his head. Take Bowser down and move forward.

World 4

Stage 4-1 might seem easy at first, until you see the smiling cloud. He will watch your every movement, and adjust his position until he is directly over you. Next, the smiling cloud will attempt to drop spiky armadillo eggs on your head.

No matter how fast you run, the smiling cloud will eventually catch up with you. Try to eliminate him as quickly as possible. As soon as you reach a platform, unbreakable brick or brick block that is high in the sky, jump on it and wait for the smiling cloud. When he gets close enough you will be able to hop on his head, but stay on the lookout for spiky armadillo eggs.

After the smiling cloud has been destroyed, the rest of this level can be finished quickly.

The two separate portal rooms included in stage 4-2 gives players the chance to go to higher levels, including the last world in Super Mario Bros. At the start, you will need to make a running double jump in order to get past two wide pits.

Squash the three Goombas coming at you in rapid succession. Take the vine that goes to one of the time warp rooms, if you so choose. The rest of the level consists of lots of man-eating plants in pipes, a few turtles and several moving platforms. The left pipe sticking out of the wall leads to World 4-3.

There will be several difficult jumps that you will have to make in order to safely land on the platforms. Make sure that you running before you jump across particularly wide gaps. Use the platform that moves up and down in order to reach the top of the flagpole and add more points to your score.

A super-sized flaming bar and three lava balls will make jumping across the first set of three platforms hard. On top of that, there is also a mystery block. When the flaming bar comes close, jump on top of the mystery block and wait for it to pass.

Run across the upper path of flaming bars and wait at the very end until the final bar moves to a safe distance. Two small platforms attached to ropes will bring you to the next ledge. From here, Bowser will already be shooting flames in your direction. You can try to get all six coins that are placed around the flaming bar, or just go for the three on the top.

Use the easiest method that you have developed for killing Bowser, then go to World 5.

World 5

All of the action takes place on ground level, so get prepared to do a lot of jumping and running. Avoid the man-eating plants and squash Goombas whenever possible. There may be mushrooms and other power-ups within the mystery blocks on this stage, so hit every one. The wide gap in the stairs that lead to the flagpole will be difficult to jump over. Stand at the leftmost edge of the stair before the gap, run and quickly jump to the other side.

The bullet machine at the top of a small flight of stairs will make it hard for players to make it safely on the other wide. Time your movements in order to leap over its bullets. Use the springboard to jump over the gap and hit the mystery block on the top set of brick blocks.

There will be row of five mystery blocks that contains a star, but you will first need to defeat the axe wielding turtle. Kill him with a fireball, or attack him with a running jump kick. There will be another mystery block toward the top of the screen that has a vine. This vine goes to a different coin room.

You will have to make a few more difficult jumps over gaps. Take out the flying turtle that flies on the stairs next to the flagpole and finish this level.

Most coins will be located in the air, far over platforms. Utilize the scale platforms in order to get across big gaps. There are also a few springboards at players’ disposal. The high platform at the end of the level will be located far from the flagpole. Run as long as you can before jumping on the pole.

This dungeon stage gives players the option of taking an upper or a lower path. The upper path has fewer obstructions, but it is more difficult to get to. Another boss fight with King Bowser will take place, and you will be allowed to go to the next level.

World 6

The smiling cloud returns in stage 6-1 to reign spiky armadillos down on Luigi and Mario. Luckily, players have an early opportunity to take out this pesky opponent. Leap onto the third mystery box that appears next to a brick block. Jump as soon as the smiling cloud gets close and destroy him. You will need to be careful when you jump back down to ground level as the smiling cloud will have already laid a few spiky armadillo eggs.

You will see a short row of brick boxes, and another set of bricks close to the right. Another big gap in the final staircase will require you to use the run and jump method to get across.

Every pipe found on this stage will contain a man-eating plant, so steer clear of their openings. The first mystery box has a big coin, and the man-eating plant to the right will disappear. You can now use this pipe to get to a hidden coin room. There are also two more coin rooms that you can visit by hitting mystery blocks and climbing up vines.

There is both a man-eating plant and a flying turtles on the last staircase. When the flying turtle eventually lands on the ground, attack it immediately. It will now be safe for you to jump over the man-eating turtle and finish this stage.

This stage features smiling clouds, but the level is still intensively challenging. Players will need to make to running jumps in order to make it over the large gaps that separate them from the platforms and scales. Once you land on a scale, you will need to move fast to avoid falling into the pit. Flying bullets will make it harder for you to time your jumps while moving in the air, while turtles will act as obstacles on the ground. Make it to the flagpole before time expires.

This is another dungeon level where Mario and Luigi must attempt to save the Princess. In addition to flying lava balls, you will have to contend with narrow platforms attached to ropes and flaming bars. After you make it past all of these traps, Bowser will be waiting at the bridge.

Although there are two small holes for players to hide, there will also be a series of brick squares that blocks them from reaching the moving platform over Bowser’s head. You will need to move quickly in order to break a hole in the brick platform in order to reach safety. Dispatch Bowser and move to the next world.

World 7

Bullet machines, flying turtles and axe wielding turtles will bombard you with attacks. If you have the fireball feature activated, taking down these enemies won’t be hard. Leap over the double set of bullets that come flying at you at the start of the stage, being careful of the flying turtle. Its shell will rebound between the two bullet machines if you are hasty.

Run underneath the axe wielding turtle on the bottom platform, then hit the block beneath him. You will have to wait until the second axe wielding turtle has moved away before you can take him out in the same manner. You will have to deal with a second set of throwing turtles later on in the stage. A snail will be on the stairs, but you can avoid him with a careful jump.

Set at night, on this level, Mario and Luigi can either complete this short level as is, or dive in the water and go for a bonus. Venus flytraps and spinning fireballs will block your way, so move carefully and swiftly while evading your enemies. At the end of the level, there will be a tall pipe with a Venus flytrap appearing periodically. Wait until the opponent disappears, then shoot for the flagpole.

This is another nighttime level featuring a handful of platforms that are spaced far away. In addition to perfecting the running jump, you will have to depend on your enemies in order to make your way through. Jumping and land on the backs of flying turtles so that you can make it over all of the gaps. This stage is long and challenging, so you will need to take your time to avoid making a hasty move.

The platforms on this stage are not stable, so move fast. They act similarly to scale platforms, only they fall even quicker. A single lava ball will shoot up between the platforms. Bullets will come at you, no matter which level or platform you are on, so duck or jump to avoid them. Run along the bottom level first, then jump on the next highest platform. As soon as you see the next opening, hop up another level.

Soon, you will see Bowser. Destroy him quickly and go to the final area of Super Mario Bros.

World 8

This stage is quite lengthy, and you will need to keep moving in order to beat the time clock. The pipes all contain man-eating plants, and on the ground there will be plenty of turtles, snails and Goombas. After you get past the two flying turtles that are bounding across a series of narrow gaps, you’ll see a mystery box within a row of blocks. This box has a star. Obtaining it is crucial if you want to complete the level in enough time. From here on, focus on jumping carefully over the remaining gaps. Always take running jumps.

This is the most difficult staircase to make it across. Hop gingerly from each single block to the next, while keeping an eye on the time remaining. Don’t worry about getting a perfect landing on the flagpole, just try to make it to the bottom before you lose a life.

The first staircase on this stage should be used to immediately defeat the smiling cloud. Otherwise, he will make completely the level excruciatingly difficult. One mystery block will be located right above a springboard. Try to break a hole in the bricks to the right of the box.

Bullets shot from three bullet machines set at varying heights make this part of the stage treacherous. You will have no choice but to jump on quite a few bullets. Slowly make you way past he bullet machines. There will be two more bullet machines to avoid. One flying turtle and two wide gaps will block you from getting up the stairs with ease. After the flying turtle has been taken out, you will need to make one difficult jump.

As soon as you step foot on level 8-3, bullets will be flying. Maneuver around the flying turtle and the two bullet machines before getting to a pip with a man-eating plant. Wait until the plant has gone back into the pipe, then run at the two axe wielding turtles.

There will be six more axe wielding turtles to defeat. If you start to take too many hits, kick turtle shells at them. The stairs that lead to the flagpole will be more air than anything else. Move slowly and deliberately as you go from block to block.

Part dungeon, part undersea adventure, the final stage in Super Mario Bros. will test every one of the skills that you have mastered in this game. Your first test will be a huge jump over a fire filled pit. Next, make you way past two man-eating plants and three Goombas.

This next part of the stage centers around another fire filled pit and a hidden platform that lies on top. You can either opt to take a running jump, or leap onto the platform before going to the next ledge.

Although the pipes on this stage all contain man-eating plants, they can be used to warp to different areas of the board. However, knowing which one goes where is extremely tricky, so it is best to just travel straight through.

A series of man-eating plants in pipes, snails and flying turtles mark the next portion of this level. Leap over the first pipe, then wait for the snails to start walking toward the right. You can jump over them both easily if you wait for the right moment. You can kill the flying turtle, just make sure that you do not accidentally kick its shell.
After the next man-eating plant has gone back into its pipe, you will need to jump over the fire filled pit. Hit the mystery block that waits on the other wide, jump onto it and go down this pipe.

This next area has flying puffer fish and more man-eating plants. You will want to take last pipe, after the fire filled pit in order to go to the water stage.

Once you come out of the pipe, you will need to make it past multiple squid and flaming bars. After you get to the other end of the gauntlet, go through the familiar pipe sticking out of the wall.

Get ready to fight King Bowser one last time. He will be breathing and throwing axes at you. Before you battle him, you will have to take down the axe wielding turtle and make it past the two man-eating plants. Do a well times running jump to make it past Bowser, hit the rope and send him sailing into the fire.

The Princess will be waiting for you a few steps to the right. This marks the end of Super Mario Bros., but players will have the option of playing a slightly altered version of the game over again from the beginning.

Hints and Tips

- Don’t get distracted by coins. Collecting coins is the key to getting the best score possible, but remember that each stage has a time limit. Bypass coins and make a dash for the end of the level if the time clock starts running low.

- When Mario and Luigi are in their large form, it will be hard to get to mystery boxes that are low to the ground, or right above other platforms. Run, then duck in order to slide into place. You will need to quickly hit the jump button in order to hit the mystery box while in this position.


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