A Fool’s Errand
This past Christmas, I received a Super Mario Bros. Encyclopedia. While the book seems to be intended for younger readers, I did enjoy looking over the games I enjoyed so much in my youth, as well as the titles that have gone unnoticed in my boring adulthood.
After all, the original Super Mario Bros. was my introduction to the world of video gaming, so for that alone, I will always have a particular affinity for this series.
Throughout the years, I have played the majority of the Super Mario games, including spin-off titles like Mario Kart and Mario Golf. Even though I have sampled most of what these games have to offer, I tend to gravitate towards the ones that hold the most nostalgic feelings for me.
Looking at the aforementioned encyclopedia’s lineup of the main Super Mario titles, I was amazed at how small the list was. This is in part to the plethora of games Mario’s fat plumber ass shows up in, but since the Super Nintendo days, Mario has largely been held to one main outing per system. (FYI, this encyclopedia does not include Yoshi’s Island as a main Mario title, take that Miyamoto!)
Typically, a new Mario game would be available at launch to help ensure the new console was latched on to like crabs to my ball hair. After launch though, Mario was left to do whatever sporting events or partying that Nintendo demanded. It wouldn’t be until the Wii era that Mario would receive more than one main title on a system.
In order to give my life meaning (yes, it is that pathetic), I decided to play through all of the main titles in the series. This would give me a chance to play the games I love, as well as a chance to play some of the titles I haven’t had as much experience with.
Of course, this entire house of cards will come crashing down once I reach the Wii U games, as I doubt I will purchase that system for the two games on it, seeing as one has been released on the Switch already.
So far, I’ve made good on my decision, and I have completed the original NES titles, including the Lost Levels from Super Mario All-Stars, as well as Super Mario World and Super Mario 64. In addition to the consoles, though, there were a couple of games released for the classic handheld, the Game Boy.
The Forgotten Titles
After my brother and I sold off our NES collection for a shiny new Sega Genesis, my last thread to Nintendo during my formative elementary school years was my Game Boy. I received the original Super Mario Land for Christmas in 1990, and I enjoyed it well enough, even though I was never able to complete it until playing it on a Raspberry Pi many years later.
Looking at the game now, it is an archaic relic of its time. Mario looks similar to his initial outing on the NES, and his sprite is rather minuscule, too. The game is a bit short at only four total worlds, each comprised of three stages, so it is half the size of the original Super Mario Bros. There are vehicular levels, though, that enhance the gameplay a little.
As much as I love and still enjoy the original Super Mario Land, the sequel is considerably better in every possible way. Most notably, the graphics have received a considerable update, giving Mario more personality and better-defined features.
The new carrot powerup gives Mario the ability to slightly hover in the air; although, he can’t fly like the raccoon or cape powerups.
Instead of progressing through four linear levels, the player is given the option to explore Mario Land as they see fit. The inclusion of an over world map gives it a similar feel to Super Mario World, but the player is free to tackle any section of the map after completing the introductory level. One of the joys of this game growing up was the option to replay levels after they were completed.
Shortly after I began rebuilding my NES collection, I set out to regain the Game Boy games that had shaped my childhood. Naturally, Super Mario Land and its sequel, 6 Golden Coins, were included in this effort. Sadly, the battery in the cartridge I received was dead, and while I could replace it, I am a lazy, lazy man.
A New Coat Of Paint
While the game is short enough to beat in one sitting, I prefer having the option to play this game on the big screen. Thankfully, enterprising programmers released a ROM hack of this title.
The DX version of 6 Golden Coins takes a play from Nintendo’s own remake of the Legend of Zelda’s: Link’s Awakening re-release they put out for the Game Boy Color.
This updated version includes full-color graphics and allows for the player to switch between Mario and Luigi. It makes one wonder what might have been if Nintendo had released this as an NES port back in the day.
Thanks to the colorization, the long-held staples of the Mario universe return. For example, instead of a stupid heart for an extra life, the green one-up mushroom returns.
Also, Mario no longer has a random feather in his hat when he gets a Fire Flower, instead donning his familiar red and white colors.
But What About The Game?
Replaying all of the main Super Mario titles in sequence has given me a new outlook on appreciating the updates as the series progressed. With no more than a week between finishing one title and beginning another, it’s much easier to appreciate 30 years of gaming history in the span of a few months.
In short, Super Mario Land 2 is a marvel of handheld programming with its only flaw, if you can call it one, being its brevity.
Growing up, though, I frequently would replay the Mario Zone over and over, as the thought of exploring a giant mechanical Mario he forced the inhabitants of his land to worship appealed to me.
There are also a few alternate paths hidden in some of the levels that allow access to secret levels.
There are some other unique levels, including a Halloween themed world, a giant house, and a space zone that features the boss from the original Super Mario Land.
Each time Mario defeats the boss of a zone, he obtains one of the titular golden coins. Once he has all six, the gate to the castle opens and Mario has to face off against the main boss.
Instead of battling Bowser in the finale, this game serves as the introduction to Wario, the Bizarro version of Mario. While looking like a counterfeit Mario, Wario is only concerned with acquiring gold, he takes over Mario’s castle because he always wanted a castle. Noble endeavors indeed.
Buy It Now!
Being one of the top-selling Game Boy games, Super Mario Land 2 is easily available and affordable. Collectors can score a physical copy of the game for under ten bucks, and it is available via the 3DS virtual console, as well. However, the only way to play the DX ROM hack version is via emulation.
While the enhancements the DX version offers are nice for people who have played the original title since its release in 1992, I still consider the original version the definitive way to play the game.
Whichever way you choose to explore Mario Land, though, it’s definitely worthy of your time.
As I venture out of the retro Mario games and into the modern ones, the simple joy of the originals becomes even more apparent. In the same time it takes me to figure out how to get three shine sprites in Super Mario Sunshine, I could play through either Super Mario Land or its sequel for the umpteenth time and still have a more enjoyable experience.