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Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins – Game Boy

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins – Game Boy

Super_Mario_Land_2_box_artPlatform: Nintendo Game Boy

Release: 11/92 (NA)

Developer: Nintendo R&D 1

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Platformer

Nerd Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by FrozenMallet

Don’t forget to check out The Cubist’s review of Super Mario Land 2 as well!

We had to wait three years for Super Mario Land 2, and while the first Super Mario Land wasn’t a bad game, it didn’t particularly grow my mushroom either… get it? Because mushrooms make Mario grow, and they’re plants so they grow too… possible innuendo there? Anyone? … Okay then, let’s move on. With this long wait between games and the great experiences gamers were treated to on both the NES and SNES from Mario games expectations were high. Were those expectations met or was the platforming nirvana on the home consoles just not possible on the portable system?

marioland2treezoneThe events of Super Mario Land 2 take place directly after the events of the first Super Mario Land game. While Mario was in Sarasaland rescuing Daisy, Mario’s childhood rival, Wario took over Mario’s castle sealing himself inside. The only way Mario can enter the castle and face off against Wario is to collect the six golden coins Wario has spread across Mario Land. This story makes Super Mario Land 2 stand out for two reasons. The first and most important to the Mario franchise is that Super Mario Land 2 is the debut of that red nosed anti-hero, Wario. The second reason which is rather trivial is that this is the first time in a Mario game that the main objective is something for Mario’s personal gain. There is no princess to rescue nor is there a land to liberate. This time Mario is just taking back what is his from some jerk that he had a beef with as a kid.

While Super Mario Land 2 may have been a tremendous improvement, it wasn’t perfect.  These issues are in no way game breaking, but they do bother me. I am going to get them out of the way first since there are only a couple of problems, then we can focus on the good stuff, which is everything else.

marioland2swimSo the six golden coins have been spread out across six different zones that Mario can access in any order the player wishes. All the player has to do is guide Mario on the world map to the desired zone. This style works out great in games like Mega Man, but unfortunately it just doesn’t work in Mario games. The reason it works for the Blue Bomber is Mega Man grows after every victory. He gains new weapons and items to use moving forward in the game. Mega Man‘s growing inventory opens up options and creates an opportunity to take on the challenges of the game in a way that fits the player. Mario has none of this. The Italian plumber has the same skill set before the first stage as he does upon entering the castle to take on Wario. This also means that instead of a difficulty curve like what happens in every other Super Mario game (world 1 will be much easier than world 8) every zone has roughly the same difficulty until the final castle where the challenge while still manageable, suddenly takes a huge leap forward. The open style just doesn’t work if there is no character progression.

My only other complaint is with the coin system. Mario players had an equation conditioned into their brains for seven years. 100 coins = extra life. They don’t do that here. Instead every coin that is collected is banked and you gamble those coins for a shot at extra lives. To do this you guide Mario to an unmarked cave on the world map, and once inside the player can choose from gambling 30, 50, 200, or 999 coins. The more coins you’re willing to risk the more lives you can win. Betting 999 coins gives the player a chance to win 99 extra lives.

gamblroomThis is just nuts. First of all, who is going to need that many lives? The game only has 32 levels. Never mind the fact that to even get a shot at the 99 life jackpot the player has to be good enough to bank 999 coins. All 999 coins have to be collected without losing all you’re lives as well. If you have the coins, but forget to drop what your doing to traverse the map to the gambling cave before you lose your last life, the game just fornicated you. Game Over means that any coins banked are lost so it takes a reasonable amount of skill to collect 999 coins. Anyone good enough at the game to collect 999 coins has no use for 99 lives.

I know I’m going on about this, but it just bothers me. This system just doesn’t make any sense. They knew they screwed this up, too because we never saw this goofy set-up again. Just keep it nice and simple; give me my extra lives as I earn them.

marioland2mapOkay, so with that bit of unpleasantness behind us, let’s move on to the good. Super Mario Land 2 is a solid platformer. Control is solid, and the sound effects and music both do their job competently. The music isn’t catchy enough to make you hum it to yourself after you’re done playing the game, but it won’t annoy you either. This is an achievement in itself since games on the Game Boy did tend to annoy with their pingy music.

mariozoneEach zone has it’s unique tone and feel. The levels are imaginatively designed throughout the game, and are long enough now to warrant a checkpoint. There are even a few that have a sprawling maze-like feel to them. I know I already said the game only had 32 levels like that was a bad thing, but this was in fact a mighty step forward since the first Super Mario Land only had 12. At the time of release it was one of the largest games for the Game Boy, and memory wise four times larger than the first game.

The graphics have been completely overhauled when compared to the first Super Mario Land. Mario’s sprite looks like a black and white version of his sprite in Super Mario Bros. 3. I would even go so far as to say the world map looks even better (ignoring the Game Boy‘s lack of color) in Super Mario Land 2 than it does in Super Mario Bros. 3. There are the little things like clouds in the skies that give the map a more alive look and really bring it all together.

Icastlen short this was the greatest Mario experience available for a portable system yet. While not as long as the home consoles Super Mario Land 2 has the same level of quality in a portable package. The secret stages gave players a reason to explore all the levels and the battery save feature was just so convenient. Even when I re-played this game for the purposes of this review I didn’t do it all in one sitting, which was nice. When I had a few minutes left on my lunch hour I could escape into Mario Land for a while and when I had a chance to get back to it Mario Land was waiting for me right where I left off. If you can find this one give it a play-through. Unless you’re one of those weirdos that only likes to play Final Fantasy games this game will give your smile muscles a workout. Or grow your mushroom, whatever you prefer.

 

Written by Nerd Bacon

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9 Comments

  1. Finally got around to playing (and subsequently reviewing) this one…boy, what a disappointment. I was so frustrated with the gameplay and bizarre levels that I even went back to the first game for a little while to make sure it wasn’t just me. I can see where this game COULD have been really great, but it falls short in waaay too many areas for my stamp of approval.

     
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  6. This is the only game I had for my gameboy for a long time, until I finally picked up Pokemon red. I have sunk countless hours into it. Great review!

     
  7. I 2nd that notion. Super Mario Land 1, 2, and 3 (Wario) were on heavy rotation on our 1 Game Boy (that I had to share with my stinky, cooties-infested, poopface sister).

    Great friggin’ game. Even on the Game Boy, which feels soooo primitive to go back and play now!

     
    • When I ran the emulator earlier today I had totally forgotten how pixilated that game was. I remember it being a lot smoother. Still great fun.

       
  8. Great review. I love this game and after reading your review I just had to play it again. My brother and I would spend as many hours as we could sneak in playing this.
    PS I love FF too 😉

     

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