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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.

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    The later 101 model didn't have region locking - could it have been that ?
    – Alan B
    May 24 at 7:43
  • 1
    Any idea of the approximate dating? If it was the ‘90s then perhaps what you played on was a Dendy or some other Russian clone, for which anything that could be pirated would likely have been available?
    – Tommy
    May 24 at 12:02
  • I'm pleased to see this question getting such a positive response from the community here. I hope you've found the information you were looking for. May 25 at 11:13
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It was most likely a pirate cart. I don't know about Finland but here in Sweden they weren't uncommon, you could often find them at fairs and similar places where traveling salespeople put up shop. Most of them were the usual "10 000 in 1" type cartridges.

I have a pirate NES console called "Good Boy" that I got for free from a friend when the NES was considered obsolete later in the nineties. It is a top loader that takes Famicom type cartridges by default, but came delivered with an adapter to play gray NES cartridges too (that you have to put in backwards, so it looks a bit funny).

One of the cartridges I got with it is a 3 in 1 that contained one game I can't remember together with Super Mario Bros. and the Japanese SMB2. I'm not sure if the small amount of text is in Japanese or not, but years after I got it I realized that it must be NTSC versions because when I heard the SMB1 theme song I thought it played too fast (the pirate copy was made for 60 Hz but played in 50 Hz here in PAL territories).

This copy of SMB2j definitively was imported to Sweden several years before All Stars was released, I know we played it a lot and found it a mystery because no one else had heard about it and no magazines covered it.

From what I can remember, these pirate games weren’t really much cheaper than original carts so the salespeople always focused on something unique, that wasn’t available officially. SMB2j is a good example of that so it was probably common. The mentioned 1000 in 1 is another. I also remember being offered Mega Man 4 when the third game had just been released in Sweden and no magazine had even mentioned another sequel. Not surprising since it usually took at least a year or two from when a game was released in Japan until it came here.

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