Reviewed on Gameboy
It has already been 25 reviews huh? I expected to hit this milestone earlier, but life ain’t always that forgiving with free time. Still, it is a milestone I am proud of as it shows I have both fun writing the articles, but also the determination to do so. So to celebrate, we are returning to the first game I have reviewed on this site. But instead of the original game, we’re taking a look at the sequel named Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. I was relatively positive on the original as a standalone game; it was short, but it was a fine game overall. Did the second game improve over what was originally brought to the table?
The first game was a good success, leading producer Gunpei Yokoi to continue on with this side-series of Mario games. The original was at the time the most out-of-place Mario game we’ve gotten, though it still followed the same formula as the original games: princess let herself get kidnapped, Mario goes out to slap the bad guy in the face and get rewarded with a delicious kiss. The game’s director and designer, Hijori Kiyotake, wanted to divert from the original ideas had for the franchise. The concept was initially turned down for being too different, but by twisting it around a bit we still got a difference in objectives. This included a whole new villain created by Hijiori, and Mario not saving a princess but instead fighting for his own benefits. The game was finally released for the original Gameboy in 1992.. and 1993 for Europe because y’know.
Mario just got back from his journey in Sarasaland and hanging out with the princess, when he returns to find out his castle taken over! Indeed, he has a castle, not a house like portrayed in several other games. The man must have been filthy rich from all the coins he gathered throughout his journeys. Or he probably held the princesses hostage for money, wouldn’t blame him if he did if they kept getting kidnapped. The evil being who has taken over his castle is none other than Wario, his evil.. cousin? The games have never specifically stated if they share the same family, as they always called him his evil rival. I don’t think I really need to state who Wario is and what his name stands for since that it common knowledge nowadays, but he’s practically just evil Mario–as in the Wa being part of the word Warui in Japanese, which means evil. To regain access to his castle, Mario must gather all the six golden coins scattered throughout the lands of.. Mario Land. Jeez, he even got his own country? He must have been avoiding taxes like a madman, no wonder the money-hungry Wario wants to take over.
So instead of the mushroom kingdom or Sarahasaland, this time we have Mario Land. This region of the world is filled with unique places like an underwater submarine and the insides of a whale, a house which is gigantic in comparison to Mario because for some reason he can’t enter it without being reduced to the size of an ant, and even Mario himself! Haven’t you ever wanted to explore Mario’s insides you sicko. But for real, it’s a big mechanical statue in his image, yet probably not as big as Mario’s ego. Everything in this land must be Mario themed–or named after him. Talk about a dictator jeez. Most worlds are split up into multiple stages, usually four and in some cases more or less. The overworld also has some extra levels. Each level has its own gimmick like sticky honey or anti-gravity, which make them far more memorable than your usual world 4-3. Stages are fun to explore as well, with different pathways occasionally leading to an alternate exit, resulting in secret stages. The stages are overall very solid and enjoyable to go through.
Mario controls mostly the same as we’re used to, but a little bit slower than usual. This is because the camera is more zoomed in on him, and the stages swift from horizontal to vertical pretty frequently. As a result, his run speed is lower as well. This does not make him play any worse however, as the gameplay and stages compliment each other well. He is more closely designed to his Super Mario World counterpart, allowing him to do techniques such as the spin jump to break blocks underneath. The fire flower also makes its return and replacing the Superball again, functioning as usual but this time also able to break certain blocks. Due to Gameboy limitations, this time he has a feather on his cap that makes him look like an Indian. Another Indian that’s able to control fire huh.. must be a reason for that. But the defining power-up of Super Mario Land 2 is the carrot; ears that let him hover almost indefinitely. Not that said mechanic is too useful for this kind of stage design, but it’s a fun power-up to skip platforming obstacles.
What’s also carried over from the original Super Mario Land is the finale of a stage. There is a top- and bottom exit again, with the top one being slightly more difficult to reach. But if you manage to reach it, you are granted one of two minigames to get extra lives or a power-up. It’s all pure chance still, but they are able to be influenced to your liking as one is a crane game for example. 1-ups are thrown your way quite a lot, and it’s likely that by the end you’re overwhelmed with extra lives. Coins this time don’t grant a 1-up after one hundred are collected, but you can exchange coins at yet another minigame on the overworld for 1-ups and power-ups. And depending on how many coins you collect.. you’ll get even more lives. And since this is pretty much one of, if not the easiest Mario games we’ve seen at that time. Only near the end does the difficulty slightly increase, and that’s where those lives may come in useful.
I complimented the original Super Mario Land for having original enemy designs similar to the country that the levels were inspired after. I am glad to mention that this game does the same with its original worlds. The Pumpkin zone in particular has some great designs we unfortunately never see again, such as a walking Jason Voorhees mask, Dracula and the Japanese onomatopoeia. Say that five times in a row. The Tree zone has all sort of insects, the Macro Zone has literal ants as enemies since you’ve been microsized, and Mario Zone has all sort of toy enemies. This is definitely one of the areas where the handheld Mario games shine over its console counterparts, and definitely my favourite element. The bosses are–while pathetically easy–also much better than the original and arguably the early Mario games as a whole. They’re all original and hey, even our alien boy Tatanga is back.. for the final time in the franchise. It all comes down to jumping on their head three times and the fight is over but granted, that’s what most 2D Mario games did.
While the end goal will always remain the same, stages can be selected in any order which in turn gives Super Mario Land 2 more replayability. That and the secret exits of course, which are not hinted in any way what stages has them so you’ll have to find out yourself. Like I’ve said before, the game is really easy and you should have no problem beating it. It might even be one of the better starting points for young or new fans looking to get into the 2D Mario games. Only the final level becomes slightly more difficult but it should pose no problem with the number of lives you’ve built up to that point. The game takes about two to three hours to beat, and also has a save battery so you don’t have to worry about losing progress. Unfortunately unlike the original Super Mario Land, the main story is all the game has going for it, even after completion. I would have loved to see a hard mode like the original did but it was not meant to be.
I was pretty forgiving on the original’s presentation. The graphics were pretty underwhelming, but I gave it a pass because it was a launch title, and the environments at least looked good. But Super Mario Land 2 is a major improvement over the original. The sprite art is really well done, and it holds up very well to this date. The enemies and over- and hub worlds have a very cartoon-like look to them, and it translates well to gameplay too. And the soundtrack is pretty good as well, with an iconic theme that literally everyone who has played the game will remember long after: Athletic. But most tunes are easily distinguishable despite following the same rhythm most of the time, and as a result are pretty memorable.
While the original Super Mario Land is still a fine game, the sequel easily blows it out of the water. The presentation improved massively, especially with the new cartoon-like art style we got. It keeps old traditions in place with having its own unique enemies and worlds that unfortunately never return, while simply improving on the gameplay itself with almost every stage having their own gimmicks and not being simple horizontal stages. Bosses are also original and fun to beat, yet again enforcing that Super Mario Land 2 is an easily distinguishable game from the rest of the franchise. Unfortunately the game is still pretty short and very easy to beat with nothing extra to do after beating the game, but with the stages being able to be played in a different order it at least gives us some replayability. And with that, here is my final verdict for Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins:
25 reviews already.. I’m proud. I hope I will reach more milestones when it comes to reviews, but like I’ve said many times it does get tougher because of work. Only time will tell I guess! This game was originally created for the Nintendo Gameboy, and surprisingly it has only been re-released once for the Nintendo 3ds as digital download. But it would be shameful of me to not mention the amazing Super Mario Land 2 DX rom hack by Toruzz. It not only adds colours to the entire game which makes it even more beautiful, but also adds Luigi as a playable character amongst other things. And then there is of course the Randomizer, almost giving you the ability to tune the game perfectly to how you want to play it. Both the DX version and Randomizer are also compatible with each other. I do not promote piracy, but said options definitely are worth checking out. This game marks the end of the original Super Mario Land series, so next time we come back to this franchise it’s with the first in the Wario Land games!