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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 2Platform:  Game Boy

Release Date (NA):  November 2nd, 1992

Developer:  Nintendo

Publisher:  Nintendo

Genre:  Platformer

Nerd Rating:  4.5 out of 10



What?  A mere 4.5 out of 10 you might say?  Well, yes, I meant to type that.  Still, by my rationale, 5 equals average, meaning there’s nothing terrible remarkable about it either way, and/or that many of the game’s best elements are countered by equally bad ones.   With the bad weighing in a bit heavier, I move one tick down the scale and 4.5 it is!  “Mario” is fairly synonymous with “quality” 99% of the time, and this might just be the lowest rating that I ever hand out to a Mario platformer.

Super Mario Land 2Some time ago I reviewed the first Super Mario Landhaving somewhat of an indifferent feeling to its dated nature.  This second installment, however, leaves a far worse taste in my mouth despite some otherwise memorable improvements. Super Mario Land 2 marks the debut of Wario.  He’s stolen Mario’s castle (Mario has a castle?) and filled the land with bad guys.  Mario’s job is to collect 6 golden coins scattered across the area in order to break the magic seal preventing entry to the castle and to put an end to Wario’s reign.  No damsel in distress this time!

In most respects Super Mario Land 2 kicks off like any typical 2D Mario platformer.  The graphics have seen a major update since 1989’s introduction to the series, adopting a sort of simplified Super Mario Bros. 3 style.  When played on one of the many upgrades to the original Game Boy hardware (such as the Game Boy Player GameCube add-on as I did) a modicum of color is imparted, mostly shades of blue with the occasional greens.  Mario appears as a reddish-orange, as do most of the major enemies and bosses.  There’s much greater detail here than its predecessor, and everything is much more proportionate.

Super Mario Land 2

This is a good representation of the color shown on the Game Boy Player.

Another impressive achievement is the level of variety present.  While the first game had 4 distinctly themed areas, Mario Land 2 has 6 areas with an even greater degree of uniqueness.  Thematic elements are expanded on more heavily and the individual features are further fleshed out.  There are much worse things to look at on the Game Boy, though despite its status as one of the most high-capacity Game Boy cartridges ever, it isn’t necessarily the best looking I’ve seen on the handheld.  The extra space does give us a save feature though, useful considering the game’s semi-longish nature.

Super Mario Land 2

Rabbit Mario in action!

We also have the Fire Flower proper brought back (it was replaced by the Super Ball in Mario Land 1) along with the standard mushroom.  Hearts still act as 1-ups, and 100 coins does not automatically award an extra life.  Instead, they can be spent to win powerups or more lives.  A new powerup, not seen before nor since (though we would see a version of it in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl), is introduced – the carrot!  The carrot grants Mario bunny ears and transforms him, officially, into Rabbit Mario.  Rabbit Mario can use the ears to slow his descent, flutter in the air, and hop on the ground, however, the ears rob him of his ability to spin jump.  It’s easy to see why we didn’t run across carrots in any future games: Rabbit Mario is easily the weakest iteration of our hero that the game has to offer.  A lack of spin jumping and the only very narrowly useful flutter will have you eager to sniff out a Fire Flower instead.

So far it might not sound like Super Mario Land 2 is all that bad of a game.  The increase in technology is noticeable and appreciable.  It looks better, it’s more complex (if only slightly), and it includes a save feature.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the gameplay, so much could’ve been done so much better.  Jumping, arguably Mario’s greatest attribute, is unwieldy.  He can jump nice and high, higher I suppose than most other Mario games, probably over half the height of the screen.  What’s weird is that he tends to fall very rapidly and it becomes difficult to jump very far.  Going up isn’t much of a problem but going forward is.  Another problem is the mid-air management of Mario.  Tapping left or right moves Mario way too far (much like the issues I had in the previous game) and it’s too easy to miss a jump while in the process of trying to land it more precisely.  All totaled, any and all precision jumping is absolute hell.

Super Mario Land 2

I hate being underwater.

Next up is Mario’s sluggish movement.  For whatever reason, the developers didn’t want Mario moving too fast, and sometimes it’s a chore just to have him walk through an extended flat area.  Last minute dodging of enemies is almost nonexistent.  Underwater, the problem is intensified.  It takes forever to move Mario through the water and again, trying to dodge enemies (usually in more tightly confined spaces than usual) is more or less impossible.  Being so slow, it’s difficult to lead Mario through series of difficult jumps or around foes because he just doesn’t move at the rate that it feels like he ought to.  It’s difficult to explain; Mario just doesn’t move how it feels like he should.

Mario also projects an invisible portion of himself outside of his body – probably in the shape of a rectangle that would enclose him.  Of course I don’t know if this is true, but at times it can be way too easy to bump into an enemy.  Many times, when airborne, I’d be close to an untouchable bad guy (like one of those spiky ball things) and although I thought I’d cleared it, I found myself receiving a hit anyway.  This happened a lot and typically in the air or water stages when I was close but not touching the foe in question.

Super Mario Land 2

Check out Wario’s first appearance…weird huh?

The level designers have a lot to answer for as well.  For some reason, very few of these levels come together for me.  I can distinguish the intended theme, but beyond that, most of them feel like a hodgepodge of various elements.  It the simple matter of pushing forward, without much regard to clever level designs or fun puzzles or neat little environmental twists like springboards and vines.  There is one little interested bit where water is hanging from the ceiling and one can kind of swim “up in the air,” but it’s only used once and to no satisfactory end.  Though most levels are relatively mundane and largely uninventive, I did enjoy the Halloween-esque world of Pumpkin Zone.

Super Mario Land 2

My favorite!

Even the music is repetitive.  The original compositions are done well enough, but unfortunately the same 3 or 4 tunes are used over and over.

Super Mario Land 2

What a rewarding ending…

Overall, there’s far too much subpar gameplay going on in Super Mario Land 2.  In many ways it feels like just another generic, no-name platformer that we saw hundreds of during the first half of the 90’s.  In the end, all of the little inadequacies really, really drag this installment down.  It’s made needlessly difficult and frustrating without enough outright platforming fun to compensate.  A lot of people will unequivocally cite Super Mario Land the weaker of the 2 titles, but while I feel Mario Land had untapped potential, Mario Land 2 is purely wasted potential.  This game should’ve been a lot of fun to play with concepts like Mario Zone and Macro Zone, but ultimately it’s a dismal, tiring, and joyless affair.

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

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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  1. Pingback: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins - Game Boy - Nerd Bacon Reviews

  2. nerdberry
    nerdberry says:

    Mario has a castle?! Damn I should learn the plumbing trade…


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