|Developer:||Nintendo|||||Release Date:||1989|||||Systems:||Game Boy|
Today on Super Adventures, Mario Marathon Month drags on even longer with Super Mario Land, for the Game Boy! There's our heroic plumber up there on the top of the sign in fact, shaking his fist at the sky and yelling at strangers to get off his Marioland.
This was the fourth Super Mario game in Japan and Europe, but the third to come out in America. It doesn't count as part of the main Super Mario Bros. series though because Luigi hasn't bothered to turn up this time. Can't give it the Bros. label without Mario's bro around.
Though if it was a Bros. game it would've been the first Mario Bros. produced by Gunpei Yokoi since Mario Bros., and the first created without the involvement of Shigeru Miyamoto. It's also the first developed for a proper cartridge-based handheld system, and if you're wondering where you've heard the name Gunpei Yokoi before, it's possible that you remember him as being the designer of the Game Boy itself. Super Mario Land was a launch title for the system and was originally intended to be the first pack-in title until Nintendo were persuaded that Tetris would more universal appeal... because it's Tetris.
Can't really disagree with that logic, especially as 25 years later I still haven't even really played Super Mario Land yet, but it says that it's "his best adventure yet" on the box, so I'm pretty hyped.
No authentic Koji Kondo soundtrack though, but this World 1-1 track (youtube link) is still pretty catchy and surprisingly not even remotely Egyptiany. I can see this getting stuck in my head.
That's got me curious actually: if everything in this half the scale of the NES games, then how do they compare when Mario Land is scaled up?
I think I'm mostly struggling here because Mario steers differently to how I'm used to. He doesn't have the same momentum that he has in the NES games, so when I try to slow him down a little I end up pulling him to a stop instead.
Super Mario Bros.'s flagpole goal basically put the player up against the game's semi-awkward control to see if they could pull off a running jump on a two brick wide wall, while this is more of a test of platforming skill.
Actually, looking at my options there, the fire flower's kind of crap. Actually, now that I think about it, it's the absolute worst thing I could've collected! I've just missed out on 3 extra lives!
Though these shots it's given me bounce a whole lot more than the fireballs I'm used to... and I just collected two coins with them as well, that's new. On the down side, I can only have one on screen at a time, so I have to wait a second or two before I can take my next shot.
This wiki I'm reading says that the fire flowers have been replaced with superball flowers as the only power up I can ever get in the game, so I supposed I'd better get used to them.
Yeah, the impenetrable wall turned out to be a regular brick wall, made out of the regular bricks I've been jumping up into and smashing with my fist for four games now. To be fair, the brick platform over on the right look more like the blocks I'm used to smashing, and I'm pretty sure it's unbreakable.
Wait, that was the World 1 boss? I just accidentally killed a boss without realising I was in a boss fight! Actually now that I think about it, this sphinx is basically is a clone of Bowser from Super Mario Bros. right down to his fireball breath. Except they skipped removing the bridge beneath him this time and jumped right to the burning.
Super Mario Bros 3. ends each world with the king transforming back from being a creature while this ends with a creature transforming back from being the princess. I knew she was a fake though from the second I noticed the beard.
This is the very first appearance of Princess Daisy, replacing Princess Peach Toadstool as our kidnap victim for the day, as we're in
But forget about Daisy... that was an old school Fighterfly she transformed into! These fly enemies made a cameo in Super Mario Bros. 3's battle game, but I haven't seen them show up in gameplay properly since Mario Bros.
can-can tune? Mario games shouldn't need to borrow music from anyone.
It seems to be fairly decent too for what it is, more competent than competitive with the rest of the genre, though it's a bit early to say. I'll reserve judgement until after I actually manage to hit anything.
I sometimes whine about games switching genre like this, because it's cruel towards players who hate shoot 'em ups and bought this expecting to be playing a platformer, but this seems harmless enough. I mean seriously, it hasn't harmed me once so far. In fact I've made it through to the mid-point of the game without losing a single life, ever, and it's not because I've gotten better with Mario games through practice, trust me on that.
Oh, it's over already? I suppose I'd better be off then. And I thought Super Mario 3's first few bosses were easy.
And that's the halfway point. The game only has 4 worlds, and I just reached World 3. Super Mario Bros. has more than 30 stages, Super Mario 3 has more like 90 of them, this on the other hand has merely 12. They seem a bit longer than your average 2D Mario level maybe, though that might just because I'm moving slower.
I only meant to take a quick look at the game and then turn it off, but now I've made it this far without losing a single life I'm curious about how far I can get on my first go. Let's see if I can actually finish the thing!
188, 187, 186... oh fine I'll give it a shot.
So the tops of the boulders are good but the corners are bad, okay got it.
A FEW LIVES LATER.
I was all set to whine about unfair it was that Mario got killed here, but this action replay gif makes it pretty obvious that I accidentally walked right into it. I make dumb mistakes when my concentration's broken. Also the rest of the time as well.
I can't whine about these checkpoints either, as the game restarted me back at the beginning of this boulder section instead of making me play up to it again. I can get frustrated all I want, but I've got no one to blame for that but myself.
Oh no, now I'll have to replay the entire last two screens to get back here!
This is why I get so annoyed at games that give you just three lives and half a continue and expect you to get gud: because I can burn through that in a half-second after having managing two entire worlds without a single death. I will always make dumb mistakes like this eventually, no amount of practice and perseverance will get me through an entire game without slipping up a few times, I do not have the advanced robot mind of a speed runner and I never learn anything!
Super Mario Land on the other hand started me off with three lives and half a continue, and then was was very nice about things afterwards, giving me fair checkpoints and plenty of opportunities to build up my stock of 1UPs. Personally I'd rather have had a world map and saves in place of the excessively low difficulty level, but I can't say I haven't been enjoying it (even when it hasn't been a challenge).
The game seems to have gotten a little stingy with the power ups as the difficulty has ramped up, but that's fine. I can't even tell when I'm Super Mario anyway! I could do with a few more 1UPs though, seeing as I've only need to survive two more levels after this and then I will have finished the whole thing on my first try.
I don't mind losing my last life here on World 4-1, I've done far better than I ever expected to on my first try, but it would've been nice to lose it due to something challenging, not me misreading the graphics.
And that's the story of how I failed to finish the easiest Mario platformer.
TWO LIVES LATER.
Those bouncing blokes in the coats are a pretty weird enemy for a Mario game aren't they? They don't really fit the pattern at all. I never really realised how Mario enemies don't tend to bunch up like that or follow you until now. Also Mario enemies tend to stay dead when you jump on them, so there's a difference too... though not always I suppose.
Man, Super Mario Land turned out way better than I was expecting it to be. I've always kind of dismissed it as being the one with the microscopic sprites that came out back when they hadn't figured out how to make games for the Game Boy yet (I mean c'mon, it pre-dates Tetris), but no this is a fine little platformer.
That's part of the problem with it though, it is a tiny little game in more ways than one, and someone with more skill than me could likely get through it in just half an hour or so. And then everyone else would likely get through it an hour or so later, as it's really not all that much of a challenge to be honest. It's kind of strange to say a game's too easy when it clearly kicked my ass in the end, but I was haemorrhaging lives for pretty dumb reasons in the second half and I hadn't collected as many as I could have. If I'd put in the effort to collect coins, and made it up into a few more bonus exits, I may have been able to survive to the end.
It's not as good as the NES games in my humble opinion, and the zoomed out view and the lack of momentum makes the original Super Mario Bros. feel like Sonic the Hedgehog by comparison, but this is pretty decent. Easily good enough to get one of my worthless little stars.
Before that though I'll finally be taking a look at another one of those non-Mario games people have been asking me to play for months now! Figure out what it is and win a chance to feel smug and knowledgeable.