The well-known story goes like this: When Nintendo had made Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan, they for whatever reason decided to not release that game in the West. Instead, they reskinned an existing, unrelated game (Doki Doki Panic) with Mario characters and still called that "Super Mario Bros. 2" for the Western release.
I certainly have memories playing that "Western" SMB 2 on the NES. No doubt about that.
But I also vividly remember one time in Finland when my older cousins one time played this strange Super Mario Bros. level where there was wind and leaves blowing! That's a distinct feature of the Japanese original SMB 2. It does not exist in the original SMB, nor in the Western SMB 2.
I want to make clear that this was not the Super Mario All-Stars "Lost Levels" Mario game on the SNES. I know for a fact that it was on a NES. It looked just like the original SMB, but it had wind and leaves blowing. So it must've been the original Japanese SMB 2.
However, the NES was region-locked and that original SMB 2 game never saw a Western release. So how is this possible?
Did they use some sort of pirate release or something? Was there such a thing? I never pictured them as "hardcore gamers" who would have "international connections" and whatnot, so it all seems very strange to me. They are no longer available to question, so I cannot get their feedback.