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Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins – Game Boy

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins – Game Boy

69748-Super_Mario_Land_2_-_6_Golden_Coins_(USA,_Europe)-6Platform: Nintendo Game Boy

Developer: Nintendo R&D1

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): October 21st, 1992

Genre: Platformer

Nerd Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Boy, you know…this is a tough one for me. I’ll tell ya what, my memory of Super Mario Land 2 is, well…a very fond one – however, not one cast in the most positive light. The Mario franchise is something of legend; a legacy that, most would argue, reinvigorated the North American video game market. Mario has since become an icon synonymous with video gaming itself. A classic, having historical impact on par with such pop cultural entities as The Beatles, Star Wars, and Superman. He’s our generation’s Mickey Mouse.

Some may believe I’m making lofty claims. Perhaps I’m taking this a step too far, but I’m trying to make a point.

Unknown

Nintendo handles its first-party games with care, and Mario is their number one boy. When a Mario game is released you expect a certain level of quality, and Super Mario Land 2 is no exception. I went into this, however, doubting it would measure up to other Mario classics. I remembered what it was, and while I still held those memories near and dear to my heart, my head was telling me something wasn’t right. Admittedly, it had been a while since I played the game, so I was a bit excited to relive the experience. And, well, this is what happened…

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 12.55.06 AM

Mario’s “humble” abode

To start off, I’ve never really liked Mario. Hey, hey now, before you go chucking that shoe in my general direction, allow me to finish! I love the Mario games, but Mario himself…I dunno. There’s something too wholesome about him. Wholesome, yet arrogant. You might say I’m a Luigi supporter. Either way, my point is…what the fuck is Mario doing with his own island? And a castle? Really Mario? You’ve got a castle while your poor brother lives in squalor, so desperate to break free of your shadow he has to resort to accepting a strange, haunted mansion, with big aspirations of starring in his own game for once that isn’t some shitty educational title?

Yeah, the whole point of this game is to reclaim your castle from a very greedy man. Or perhaps a very greedy man reclaiming his castle from another fellow who just wants to be like Mario. You decide.

So, this time around you’re motives aren’t quite as altruistic as you might have hoped. But that’s just a tiny detail, something I am bothered by on a moralistic level. Doesn’t really have much to do with the game.

Now then, Super Mario Land 2 for Game Boy. Ultimately…while I didn’t want to like it (and there was something about it that didn’t feel quite right), objectively I had to give it to this one. It’s really pretty decent. But it does have some flaws I must address.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.19.42 PMFor one, graphics are…pretty good. I personally don’t really like the way this game looks, but it is well-designed for the graphical capabilities of its day. So I’ll give you this one as well, Super Mario Land 2.

**EDIT** After spending some time replaying this for screenshots, I’ve grown to really like Mario’s look here. So, yeah, this actually scores pretty high in the graphics department.

You’re given a little more freedom here than you’ve had playing previous Mario games, in terms of progression. No longer are you oppressed by the rigid structure of a map outlining your key destinations, only to tease you by imposing artificial roadblocks chaining you to a linear path. Now you have the same freedom as Mega Man himself to choose which part of Mario Land you explore. While this is nice, you’ll find a certain order playing into the game’s difficulty curve; a few select zones are more challenging than others.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.25.27 PM

Freedom!

Speaking of which…

Zones. You’ve got zones in this game. SEGA’s not going to be happy.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.16.47 PM

Mario’s spin jump comes in handy on the small screen

All the Mario conventions are present: power-ups, breakable blocks, classic enemies. They even ported over his spin jump from Super Mario World. But beyond what’s classic, there’s plenty of fresh material here we’ve never seen before in the Mario universe and haven’t seen since.

Both Mario Land games have vastly different atmospheres from your typical Mario affair. The settings feel very unusual, the music is far different, and you have enemies not found anywhere else (all in part due to Miyamoto’s absence as team leader). Super Mario Land 2 does give us some good stuff, such as the space levels with Space Suit Mario (a precursor to Super Mario Galaxy, perhaps?), the ability to move as you receive a power-up, and of course those glorious rabbit ears, courtesy of the carrot icon. Oh, how I miss thee…

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.51.56 PM

Effortlessly float down with the press of a button. Even though there are countless other flying power-ups in the Mario series, I really do wish they’d bring back the rabbit ears outside of Super Smash Bros.

The Mario Land universe certainly seems to exist in a world of its own, but is this because it’s so far off base from previously established Mario conventions? I mean, when Super Mario World came out, it was quite different from anything we had seen in the series thus far.

I propose it’s because assets from most Mario games tend to carry over into later franchise installments in some form or another. Not so much the case with the Mario Land games. Why is that?

This brings me back to my initial thought, which is how something doesn’t feel quite right about this title. Almost as if it were incomplete. Like, it’s good for a portable Mario. Real good in fact. It totally gets the job done for all your “Mario on the go” needs. But if it were released on Super Nintendo, would it measure up to Super Mario World? I don’t think so.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 12.27.30 AM

Although Space Suit Mario was a nice variation in both look and gameplay, he’s not enough to set Super Mario Land 2 apart from other Mario games

Super Mario World, like Super Mario Bros. 3 (We won’t get into 2 – that’s a discussion for another day), pushed the envelope, bringing something new to the table – whether it was a world map, the ability to fly, a reptilian buddy on which to ride along, etc. But this one really doesn’t do anything all that groundbreaking. Well, except of course it gave us…no, wait, I’ll get to that later.

There’s a few other issues holding Super Mario Land 2 back from becoming a superb game. To start off, what are Mario games typically known for? Tight handling maybe? Well, this one’s an exception. Mario’s jump is slippery and floaty. It’s not impossible, and definitely not the worse, but by Mario game standards he’s not very comfortable to control. This isn’t a big deal because the game’s not terribly challenging. It might be a little more tedious if you didn’t have a save feature, but you do. So you can play it at your leisure and still beat it in a day or two.

While some boss fights are a little tricky (I’ll admit, there was an occasion or two where I had to repeat a boss several times), for the most part they’re shallow battles with very weak patterns. The majority of them will be over before you know it.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 10.06.26 PM

Even though you usually face one boss at a time in Super Mario Land 2, this battle involves three bosses, meaning nine total jumps to secure victory over the usual three. It’s still easy as shit

Coin collecting is another issue. Let’s face it – coins have never really been all that important, but we collect them anyway. Why? Because it’s fun. And a burgeoning high score or an extra life is at least enough of an incentive to justify such hoarding tendencies. But what do they do for you in Super Mario Land 2? Close to nothing. There’s a 999 cap on coins, and the only use they have, so far as I can tell, is to gamble on items you don’t need since the game is easy enough without any added help. No points, no lives, nothing. Once I figured this out I avoided coins purely out of principle.

When you lose an incentive such as coin collecting, or a score, you really don’t have as much reason to take your time with the game. You might as well run at top speed through each level to the end. And while you can’t do this in every stage, you will have plenty of opportunities to gun it.

I’ll touch on the music briefly: it’s incredibly nostalgic. But that doesn’t say anything about it. All it does is bring me back to sitting in the backseat of our van with my friend, both of us playing our respective Game Boys while on break at violin camp. Just about all of the game’s music is a variation of one theme. This gives the overall score a unity, furthering its distance from all other Mario soundtracks. It’s very pleasant, upbeat, peppy, and the tunes are different enough to remain fresh.

I realize I’m being a bit hard on Super Mario Land 2, but it’s easy to praise a game simply for its namesake. There was something bothering me about this one, so I had to get to the bottom of it and figure out what was harshing my vibe. And I think I’ve managed to do just that. However, personal biases cannot always be disregarded; I’ve never been big on handhelds, and I am usually more inclined to find flaws in popular things. All in all, Super Mario Land 2 is fun, and it does the job of bringing you a fairly authentic Mario experience on the go while retaining it’s own unique style. It simply has a few issues you normally wouldn’t expect from a Mario game.

But really, what is Super Mario Land 2’s greatest legacy? Well, let’s just say, who’d have thought this guy would go on to become such a staple character, a Game Boy titan, and one of my favorite Mario personalities right up there with Luigi?

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 12.51.38 AM

That’s right! My man Wario! Stay tuned, because he’s next!

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 10.00.26 PM

**Happy birthday to one of my favorite sites on the net. Here’s to two more years…wait, I should probably say something along those lines when this site’s been around longer. Oh well, happy two-year anniversary Nerd Bacon!

Written by ZB

ZB

Since the tender age of four, I have been playing video games to occupy my free time. Raised on Nintendo and Sega Genesis, I have an extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for the classics. Also an avid collector, I have accrued such consoles as the Atari Jaguar, Super Famicom, Odyssey 2, Sega Nomad, just to name a few.

Got any questions, comments, concerns, or threats? Feel free to email me at zb@nerdbacon.com. I am happy to hear your feedback!

 
 

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