VS. Super Mario Bros.
The plot is the same as the original Super Mario Bros., featuring Mario and Luigi (second player only) setting out on a quest to free Princess Toadstool from the evil Bowser and restore the fallen kingdom of the Mushroom People.
This game has higher gameplay difficulty than the original Super Mario Bros., with fewer warp zones and power-ups, and more enemies. Six new levels were created for the game, all of which were reused in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels.
Detailed set of level differences
The original version of Super Mario Bros. has some levels repeat, with an easier version with some obstacles removed (Fire-Bars in the castle, fewer enemies, etc) earlier on, and then a later "full" version, e.g. 1-3 is the easier version of 5-3; 1-4 is the easier version of 6-4; 2-2/2-3 are the easier version(s) of 7-2/7-3; and 2-4 is the easier version of 5-4.
In the arcade version, most of the "easier versions" (all except 1-3) are replaced by the "harder version" to make way for new levels.
The following table summarizes the changes. Unlisted levels are mostly the same as the corresponding level in Super Mario Bros., but with minor difficulty increases. Various ?s, especially those that contain power-ups, are often either moved to much harder-to-reach places, or even removed altogether, or the power-ups are replaced with coins. Many bottomless pits have been added as well.
The hidden 1 up Mushrooms in 2-1, 4-1, 6-1, and 8-1 have been removed. The ones in 3-1, 5-1, and 7-1 are only available if enough coins are collected in one of two previous -3 levels:
Depending on operator settings, the player may now start with two lives instead of three and the timer may be set to run faster than the NES version's timer did. The coin counter now has three digits instead of two, meaning that Mario/Luigi may have to collect more than 100 coins (can be set to 100, 150, 200, or 250 by the operator) to earn an extra life. After a game over, depending on operator settings, the player may continue with four lives instead of three. Additionally, as mentioned above, the infinite lives trick has been removed from certain levels that have either Koopas or Buzzy Beetles descending staircases, by having them all be replaced with Little Goombas, although some levels still feature Koopa Paratroopas descending staircases and were not replaced with Little Goombas, allowing the player to circumvent this issue.
The ending is identical to that which would later appear in The Lost Levels, including awarding 100,000 points for each life the player has left, but the music uses the original Super Mario Bros.'s instrumentation. The second verse was removed to make for a looping song. After the song ends, the game is over and the player can enter his/her initials. Additionally, there is no door after the final Bowser like in The Lost Levels, and the princess is still in the area behind him, making the ending cutscene more jarring. Finally, there is no Hard Mode after completing the game.
Production and release
VS. Super Mario Bros. was to be called VS. Mario's Adventure. The only remnant of this earlier title is an arcade flyer with a trademarked name.
The game made its debut at the American Coin Machine Exposition held in Chicago from March 7-9, 1986. Despite the arcade version of the game never being officially released in Japan, Japanese arcade operators allegedly found ways of getting access to the game to use in their arcades by mid-April.
Arcade Archives port
In the September 2017 Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced Arcade Archives: VS. Super Mario Bros., a port of VS. Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Switch as part of Hamster Corporation's Arcade Archives series. This time, two detached Joy-Con are used to play with two players. It was released in Japan, the Americas and Europe on December 22, 2017, and in Australia on December 23, 2017.