This week’s games of the week are the two Mario titles that I currently own for my Gameboy, Super Mario Land and its sequel, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. Super Mario Land was a launch title for the Gameboy in 1989 with gameplay that follows a linear path similar to the original Super Mario Bros for the NES. Princess Daisy is the damsel in distress this time around and Mario must traverse Sarasaland, instead of the traditional Mushroom Kingdom, in order to save her from Tatanga (a seemingly created out of nowhere baddie). Super Mario Land is also shorter than the original SMB which follows the overall theme of it being a smaller, pocket Mario adventure. Some instantly noticeable differences with SML besides the location and final boss are that Koopa shells explode like bombs that can hurt Mario after they are jumped on, hearts are used to represent 1-ups instead of mushrooms, Mario throws bouncing balls instead of fireballs and there are no flagpoles to jump onto at the end of each level. There are also some levels where Mario hops into a what looks like a sub where he can shoot enemies, which adds some uniqueness to the game. In all, I like Super Mario Land as if offers similar enough gameplay to Super Mario Bros while doing its own thing. While it’s not a perfect game it is still a very solid launch outing from Nintendo.
Where SML mimicked much of the gameplay of the original SMB, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins most closely resembles the non-linear gameplay of Super Mario Bros 3 for the NES. In SML2, which was released in 1992, Wario makes his very first Nintendo appearance as your main antagonist and stealer of Mario’s rightful castle. In order to reclaim it, Mario must collect the 6 golden coins to scattered throughout the kingdom in order to open the castle gate and confront Wario. As mentioned, the game is non-linear so Mario can access the zones in any order. Within each zone, there are multiple levels that must be completed before reaching the zone castle. Inside the castle will lie each of the coins Mario must retrieve. Also within the overworld, there are game levels that provide Mario opportunities to gain power-ups for his quest including a bunny suit that allows Mario to jump higher and float longer in the air. SML2’s sprites are larger than the original so the entire game looks and plays better than its predecessor but as a consequence, can be harder on the eyes due to blurriness when Mario is moving. One of the best features is the battery pack in the cart that allows you to save your progress after each of the 6 coins is retrieved. For a game this size, it would be a serious flaw to not allow for this in what is supposed to be a portable, pick up and play for a short period and put back down again style game.
When I finally got my Gameboy in the early 2000’s, it was clear that I needed these two Mario titles in my collection as I figured (correctly for the most part) platforming games would be easily translatable to the portable system. I remember reading about Super Mario Land in Nintendo Power back in the day and regretted that there was an all new Mario adventure out there that I wouldn’t be able to play. I still have never sat down and beat it in spite of it’s short length so I’m going to give that a shot if my eyes can handle it. I know there are additional Mario titles in the Gameboy franchise that feature Wario as the protagonist but I don’t yet own any of these. For now, these two games should provide me plenty of platform Mario fixes for the month.
Currently in my collection:
Super Mario Land – game, manual, box B+
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins – game only A