Then add about 10,000 turps more of pure evil.
You might be getting the picture at this point. (Assuming you caught KurtDresner's explanation of the unit "turp". Note: A particularly annoying hammer brother in the late stages received a rating of 70 turps.)
I think it is interesting to point out that the so-called Lost Levels were only 'lost' in the US. They were included in a NES Super Mario Bros. game called SMB2(J) that was not released in the US. SMB2(US) is actually a Japanese game called "Doki Doki Panic" that was Marioized for its US release. SMB2(US) was released later in Japan with its Mario textures under the name "Super Mario USA". Anyway, by SMB3, both the Japanese and US Mario series had the same numbering.
I didn't see a mushroom that was obtainable after C-4 until I rescued the princess (for the *second* time) after beating D-4. I hadn't seen a fire flower since an even earlier castle (I'm pretty sure it was all the way back in 8-4, but no promises on that one--I know it required looping back to get a hidden item block twice). 1UPs? Virtually non-existent. There are probably 5 times as many poison mushrooms as there are 1UPs. There is a mushroom in D-3 that's not too hard to get.
Through all of this, I have one thing to say:
This is the best game I've played in a *long* time. It was amazingly fun, even taking the staggering level of evilness into account. Oh yeah, and it was *hard*. Hard like only early Nintendo games can be, except more so. Games have been getting easier as time passes; I can't remember the last time a game has challenged me so much. Assuming perfect play, I'd bet it could be beaten in around 45 minutes (no warping). It took me between 10 and 11 hours.
No matter how much swearing this game induced, I loved it. The next time I have a *lot* of time to kill, I'm going to do it again. In one run through of the game, I'm sure there's plenty that I missed--hey, I didn't find any warps, forward or backward (yes, I did say "backward"; there are warps that force you *back* to earlier levels--talk about EVIL!).
AlexBobbs: I've revisited this game this summer and have conquered it (Yes, even I am surprised. It only took a good chunk of my weekend.). I find that Luigi actually suits me best and has made several parts a LOT easier. Basically, Luigi has crap control on the ground (takes too long to speed up and slow down) but makes up for it with amazing arial abilities. He jumps really high and even higher when bouncing off enemies. What this boils down to is a change in tactics: Rather than trying to make all the difficult jumps as intended, Luigi can actually clear some difficult areas entirely (even when it looks like you can't), especially if there are enemies around to keep him in the air. Oh, and don't rely on being able to stop, just keep going, making death-defying arial stunts as needed. And did I mention how incredibly nice it is to easily clear the entire throwing range of hammer brothers (given no roof)?
Strangely enough, given my playing style, I can't stand using Luigi. Anyone who's watched me play--and there are a bunch of you--will say that I never stop running and jump frequently. It may just be that I'm so used to the controls of Mario from the other Mario games that Luigi is just too much of a stretch, but I'm convinced that his crappy acceleration and breaking don't compensate for his somewhat more impressive jumping ability. Maybe I'm just good enough at jumps with Mario that it's moot. Meh. Luigi can suck it. Plus, there are enough levels where excessive jumping ability is actually a *hindrance* (mostly the dungeons) that I pick Mario hands down. --DanCicio
I'm wondering what people thought were the most evil sections of the game. Feel free to add to this list.