|One evening, Mario had a strange dream. He dreamt of a long, long stairway leading up to a door. As soon as the door opened, he was confronted with a world he had never seen before, spreading out as far as his eyes could see. When he strained his ears to listen, he heard a faint voice saying : Welcome to 'Subcon', the land of dreams. We have been cursed by Wart and we are completely under his evil spell. We have been awaiting your arrival. Please defeat Wart and return Subcon to its natural state. The curse Wart has put on you in the real world will not have any effect upon you here. Remember, Wart hates vegetables. Please help us!.|
At the same time this was heard, a bolt of lightning flashed before Mario's eyes. Stunned, Mario lost his footing and tumbled upside down. He awoke with a start to find himself sitting up in his bed. To clear his head, Mario talked to Luigi, Toad and the Princess about the strange dream he had. They decide to go to a nearby mountain for a picnic. After arriving at the picnic area and looking at the scenery, they see a small cave nearby. When thy enter this cave, to their great surprise, there's a stairway leading up, up and up. It is exactly like the one Mario saw in his dream. They all walk together up the stairs and at the top, find a door just like the one in Mario's dream. When Mario and his friends, in fear, open the door, to their surprise, the world that he saw in his dream spreads out before them!
Players choose from four characters each time they start or restart a level : Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad. Each has a special ability : Luigi can jump very high, the Princess can remain temporarily suspended in the air, Toad can pick up things quickly and is very agile, and Mario is balanced. In future Mario games in which multiple characters were playable, Mario would always be the most balanced character. A unique ability in this game is the 'power squat' ? by holding Down on the control pad for a few seconds, players could build power for higher jumps.
Most enemies are defeated by throwing vegetables and other items which the character plucks from the ground. Most enemies may also be picked up and thrown. Many enemies which first appeared in this game would reappear in later sequels and related games.
In each level, there are places where the player can pick up potions, which he can drop to make a door appear. This door will lead to a left-right reversed, non-scrolling version of the section of the level, with no enemies. If a door is created in the right place, there will be coins planted in the ground which the player can pick up, and sometimes a mushroom which will add another unit to his maximum health and re-fill his health. In addition, some jars (the equivalent of pipes in the original game) became 'warp zones' that allowed the player to skip to another world. For each coin collected while in these 'door levels', the player will get a chance at the bonus slot machine at the end of each level.
At the end of each level, the player is presented with a slot machine-type game. He gets to try as many times as he has coins collected from the level he just completed, and depending on what combinations come up, he can get anywhere from 0 to 5 extra lives for each try.
Game description from www.arcade-history.com