Best Super Mario Bros. 2 ROM Hacks: The Ultimate List

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It’s been over 30 years since we first visited the dream world of Subcon to free its inhabitants from the evil King Wart.

Countless Mario games have been released since then. But none have managed to capture my imagination the way SMB2 did the first time I played it.

It’s certainly one of my favorite Mario games – and I’m not alone.

If you love SMB2 but have played it a bit too much throughout the years, ROM hacks are a great way to breathe new life into this old classic. And here’s some of the best ones to check out.


7. Pony Poki Panic

Pony Poki Panic Romhack Screenshot

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Nobody was expecting My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic to become the internet phenomenon that it did – much less that it would inspire an SMB2 ROM hack.

Pony Poki Magic by HeroOfTime1000 is a graphical and text overhaul that introduces some of the most beloved ponies from the show as playable characters.

Twilight Sparkle, Lyra Heartstrings, Trixie Lulamoon, and Princess Luna are the only ones who can defeat the Nightmare Moon and save everypony from horrible night terrors.

This is great if you’re a furry, or just a fan of the show. Or if you’re not a fan, but maybe want some MLP/Mario crossover in your life.


6. Super Mario Bros. 2: 2nd Run

Super Mario Bros. 2: 2nd Run Screenshot

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Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of the most unusual titles in the series.

It has a unique art style and unorthodox gameplay compared to other entries in the franchise. And some of us just can’t get enough.

If other Super Mario titles fail to scratch your SMB2 itch, consider this ROM hack by Recovery1, which respects the base game’s aesthetic and feel, while adding some new levels.

SMB2: 2nd Run features seven new challenging worlds.

The last two really turn up the heat in terms of difficulty, so get ready to “git gud”!


5. SMB2 Turbo Edition

SMB2 Turbo Edition ROM Hack Screenshot

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Next up we’ve got a hack that actually makes the game easier rather than excruciatingly harder.

SMB2 Turbo Edition by Googie is meant to give the game a very distinctive feel by tweaking both visuals and gameplay.

The one thing in the game that isn’t easier is the bosses.

Birdo’s projectiles travel at the speed of a Barret .50 bullet, and Mouser’s bombs give you no chance of getting away before detonation.

What I really love most about this hack are the graphic tweaks.

The enemies are oddly cute, and everything looks bright and vibrant. Certainly feels more like a game for kids than the original did.


4. SMB2 Graphic Overhaul

SMB2 Graphic Overhaul Hack

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Mario’s aesthetic has changed a lot throughout the years.

While I love the look and feel of the original SMB2, I’ve always wondered how it would look if it was remade today.

Creator MaxT offers us a modern take on this 1988 classic in the form of this Graphic Overhaul, which replaces the color palettes of almost everything to mimic modern Mario games.

It also fixes some animations to make the game look smoother.

This is the perfect hack to try out if you just want a little more spice added into this classic NES game.


3. Bowsette 2

Bowsette 2 SMB2 Rom Hack

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The Super Crown rose to fame as an Internet meme after appearing in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, where it turns Toadette into Peachette – a human-sized version of Toadette with blonde hair like Princess Peach.

This led fans to theorize what it could do to other characters – specifically Bowser.

Bowsette has become a sensation online ever since. To the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo decided to include her as an official character sometime in the future.

Until then, we can play through Bowsette 2 by Zynk Oxhyde, which replaces the playable heroes in SMB2 for Bowsette, Goombette, Chompette, and Boosette.

Bosses in the game also get Super Crown’d.


2. Super Mario Bros. 2: Master Quest

Super Mario Bros. 2: Master Quest Hack Screenshot

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Creator Alex No brings us a new hard-as-nails adventure where trial and error is the key to success.

This hack features some visual tweaks that make SMB2’s environments feel more treacherous.

It also creates an oppressive atmosphere that reminds you this isn’t the SMB2 you’re used to.

Abandon all hope of clearing any of the new levels in a single try. If you manage your expectations and keep frustration at bay, you’ll make it through.


1. SMB2²: Return to Subcon

SMB2² Romhack Screenshot

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The single most amazing difficulty hack for SMB2 comes from prolific ROM hacker GlitchCat07.

And it aims to bring new visitors back to Subcon after a long three decades.

This hack really pushes the boundaries of what can be done in Super Mario Bros. 2, thanks to some new ROM editing software. It’s the first “real” Kaizo hack for SMB2, making it perfect for those looking to test their skills against a truly challenging title.

To clear it, an in-depth understanding of the game’s physics is basically required.

You’ll have to do some crazy stuff like bouncing on top of shells, spinning over spikes… and that’s only the beginning.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.