Super Mario Bros 2 is a respectable game, but not classic like the other Mario games.
Cons: Early portions of the game are boring; Later portions are often frustrating; Controls feel a little off
Note: This review is based on the All-Stars version of SMB2. The game is largely the same in any case, so most, if not all of what's said here should apply.
To date, I still can't quite figure out what to think of Super Mario Bros. 2. The game is 24 years old, I've been playing it since I was a child, and I'm still not sure what to make of Mario and crew's adventures through Subcon.
Some of my mixed feelings stem from the fact that Super Mario Bros. 2 is hardly a Mario game when compared with other entries in the series. It doesn't make much sense that this should be called Super Mario Bros. 2: the action is more vertical than horizontal, objects are picked up and thrown, and the jumping feels completely different from other Mario games. Most of the enemies aren't even seen again, save for the lucky few like Shy Guy or Birdo.
Then there's also the fact that Super Mario Bros 2 is not the most consistent Mario game in quality. Controls feel a little less refined, both in terms of the jumpy movement and awkward throwing mechanics, and the choice to focus on the latter makes the flatter, early sections of the game feel less fun. The game's secrets, which largely revolve around careful potion placement, also feel more predictable early on, cheapening themselves in the process.
In short, I was very concerned playing through the beginning stages again for review. This felt like a Mario game in name alone, and regardless it wasn't of similar quality. Fortunately, however, the game picks up later on. Levels get much more creative the further in the game you are. You may need to hitch a ride carefully aboard a bird or climbing creature, or manage ice and whales. At this point, the variety and more challenging terrain keep things more interesting, albeit sometimes frustratingly hard.
The second half of the game is easily the highlight, and all things considered, Super Mario Bros 2 is a pretty good game-it just doesn't live up to the series standard. While it's commendable that Nintendo would try and continue to innovate with such a big sequel, and while the game is still fun, it's hardly the timeless classic some people make it out to be. Super Mario Bros 2 isn't as enjoyable or tight as the rest of the series, and while it's enjoyable enough to be worth playing if you get it included in a bundle (a la Super Mario All-Stars), it's flawed enough to not be worth your time on its own.