Geek Trivia

What Popular Nintendo Game Was Originally Titled “Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic”?

Super Mario Bros. 2
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Kirby's Dreamland
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Front cover of Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic a.k.a. Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic

Answer: Super Mario Bros. 2

Many a Western video game consumer sat down in the 1980s, popped in a fresh-from-the-box cartridge of Super Mario Bros. 2, and stared at the screen in puzzlement. Super Mario Bros. 2 was such a radical departure from everything in the original Super Mario Bros. game that it seemed almost surreal—egg shooting monsters, turnip chucking, strange little men in masks attempting to kill you, and so on. It was such a strange experience it wouldn’t seem outlandish to imagine you were playing a bizarro world version of Super Mario Bros.

That was, in fact, exactly what happened. In Japan, a follow-up to the original Super Mario Bros. game was released, known in Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2. That second game, however, looked nothing like the Super Mario Bros. 2 the rest of the world received and was essentially a remake of Super Mario Bros. with the difficulty level turned up—way, way up. The game was intended to serve as a challenge for hardcore Super Mario Bros. fans who had completely mastered the original game.

Super Mario Bros. 2 proved to be so insanely difficult that players hated it and it was panned for release outside of Japan. Instead, a Nintendo game called Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic (Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic) about twins who are kidnapped by a magical book’s villain, wherein the twins’ parents, their brother, and their brother’s girlfriend enter the surreal Arabian-inspired dream world of the book to rescue them was chosen as the base for the sequel.

The sprites were reworked, the artwork was tweaked, and the title changed, but at its heart, the international version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is the bizarre dream world of Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic. Super Mario fans curious about trying their hand at what could have been can download Super Mario: The Lost Levels through the Nintendo Switch Online Service.