|Developer:||Nintendo|||||Release Date:||1992 (JP)|||||Systems:||Game Boy|
Today on Super Adventures I'm playing the final game of my Mario Marathon Month, finishing off the first decade (or so) of Mario's big platformer games. So if you were hoping to see Hotel Mario or Mario is Missing show up then I'm afraid your princess is in another castle, so to speak.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is also the final game in the Mario Land series before the villain hijacked it and turned it into the Wario Land series (like how Yoshi stole the Super Mario Bros. series and turned it into Yoshi's Island after the fourth game). Don't feel bad for Mario though, he had things like Super Mario Kart, Super Mario RPG and Super Mario 64 to keep him busy through the mid-nineties (when he wasn't playing Go Fish in Mario's Game Gallery.)
Most of the other Mario games I've played so far I've been very familiar with, but this one's a big question mark (block) for me. I've only seen about 10 seconds of gameplay and I don't even know how others rate it, so I get to go in entirely blind for once! As usual I'll give it an hour or two, share my first impressions, maybe a few second impressions, then find something about it to nitpick afterwards.
Super Mario World-style save slot I was dumped here in front of a mushroom, with no story, no intro, and no colour. No toilet either by the look of how Mario's dancing around there.
youtube link. I mean even Super Mario Land's 1-1 theme was good enough to make it into the top ten on the UK Singles Chart: another youtube link. This on the other hand sounds like it'd more at home at a circus. It's clown music.
Anyway this is definitely still a Mario game; maybe not quite as slick as Super Mario World and I'm sure his legs are going double speed there, but it's got all the [?] blocks, spinning coins, Super Mushrooms and gormless Goombas you could want. Though everything's so zoomed in and massive this time! This is like the opposite of Super Mario Land.
Oh, there's another thing I've noticed while comparing them all directly like this: Super Mario Land 2 doesn't have a score, but it does keep track of how many enemies I've killed. Weird.
Hang on, did I just do a Mario World spin there? How did I do that? It can't be a button, as the Game Boy only has two of them (for run and jump in this case). Oh I see, I just press down while in the air. And pressing up while jumping gives me extra height, that's new.
So that means that at this point the games have established you're constantly being watched by:
- The clouds.
- The bushes.
- A giant box of Super Mario Bros. 3 branded rice seasoning.
- The trees.
- Bird face doors.
- The evil Sun.
- About a thousand things that want to kill you.
- A bell.
While I was away crusading against the mystery alien Tatanga in Sarasa Land, an evil creep took over my castle and put the people of Mario Land under his control with a magic spell. The intruder goes by the name of Wario. He has been jealous of my popularity ever since we were boys, and has tried to steal my castle many times. It seems he has succeeded this time. Wario has scattered the 6 Golden Coins from my castle all over Mario Land. These Golden Coins are guarded by those under Wario's spell. Without these coins, we can't get into the castle to deal with Wario. We must collect the 6 coins, attack Wario in the castle, and save everybody!Huh? So Mario and Wario have been enemies since childhood, and Wario's been trying to steal his castle all this time? Since when has Mario had a castle? Since when has Mario had a land? Did he buy it with the money he made as a doctor? Is Wario from Brooklyn too? I have so many questions!
Seems like I've got a few actually, as I can go absolutely anywhere on the world map right from the start. Definitely a much better map than Super Mario Land 1 had, as the game even didn't have one. I've seven different levels to pick from here, but this is a platformer so I should do this properly and start with...
I haven't checked what other worlds there are yet, but maybe I can find a Sewer Zone and a Warehouse Zone to visit next (perhaps even a Slippery Ice Level Zone). Anyway there's only five levels here and one of them's optional, so this shouldn't take long.
TREE ZONE - STAGE 1.
I'm glad that this is following Super Mario Land's lead in giving me lots of new enemy types though, even if I can't figure out what that first creature's deal was.
Actually, I just found one that turns into a ball and rolls around while he's flashing. I think... he's meant to be a hedgehog! Awesome, I'm one step closer to figuring this place out.
TREE ZONE - STAGE 2.
Wait, forget that, I just noticed something far more interesting: Mario's trousers get a grey outline when he's standing against black, so that his legs don't disappear into the background like they do sometimes in Super Mario Bros. 3. Well I thought it was interesting anyway. Okay, so what do these bunny ears let me do then?
I'm a bit surprised to see the game brings back the regular Super Mario Bros. turtles with their skidding shells as well as the exploding bomb turtles that replaced them Super Mario Land. We've got some turtle diversity here.
Also now I know that Bunny ears let me fly! Well, hover anyway. Holding the button lets me descend slower and tapping it slows my descent even further. Well, it did anyway, before I got a spike up the ass and returned to being Super Mario. At least I didn't go right back to being regular-sized tiny Mario, like I would've done in most of the older games.
Mario's got another new set of sprites for this game, with a bit more of a forward lean and some huge boots. Well okay they're only a pixel or two longer, but that's a a lot when you're only 15 pixels wide!
TREE ZONE - STAGE 3.
TREE ZONE - BOSS.
Kind of annoying that I have replay half the stage to get back here too, assuming I managed to hit the checkpoint bell halfway through. Actually I can't be bothered to learn how to fight this guy right now, so I'm going to take the path of least resistance and see what the other zones are like.
I'm not sure where 'getting eaten by a Koopa and having to take the rear entrance to get out' sits on the list of Mario's worst nightmares, but he can't be too happy about how his day's been going. Still, no kidnapped princesses so far, fingers crossed.
TURTLE ZONE - STAGE 2.
Anyway forget that for a second... was that shark wearing boxing gloves? That makes no sense at all, with that kind of reach he'd struggle to punch past his own nose! Plus sharks don't have arms.
I cunningly cut a few seconds of this corridor out due to reasons of boredom and file size, but I think it gets the point across. I've accidentally gone the wrong way and found a secret stage! Found, but not unlocked, as whenever I want to play it again I'll have to reach this star exit again first. On the plus side: it turns out that I can replay levels, like in Super Mario World!
A WHILE LATER.
that Castlevania game where hearts give you health.
Not that I spend the money, no the money is purely used for gambling (a bit like in Super Mario Bros. 2). The higher value pipes have a chance of giving out a huge amount of lives, while the cheap pipe is for power ups.
THE, UH, GIANT HIPPO ZONE?
The bubble looks like it's easy to steer in this animation, but that's mostly because it is. It's been kind of a low stress game in general so far in fact; low on frustration and challenge, high on... well the designers must have been high on something.
Oh wait, I'm in space! Mario's empire is so vast that he even owns the Moon and at least one star! I always thought it was a bit weird how a plumber was so friendly with the Mushroom Kingdom royal family, but it makes more since now I know that he's the Prince of Space. Well was, until Wario stole the heavens from him.
Add 'The Moon and stars' to the list of things that are constantly staring at you in this place.
Two things I notice here: first, Mario still needs a space suit to survive in space at this point (with bunny ears sticking out of the helmet), and second, it doesn't matter how much he flaps them, his bunny hovering powers don't work outside of an atmosphere! I'm not sure why that makes me happy, but it does. I respect scientific accuracy in my Mario games.
Seems that this game is having a bit more fun with its themed worlds than the earlier games did. I mean in all the time I played Super Mario World, I didn't even find one single doughnut in the Donut Plains, but I guarantee you that I'm going to see some generic horror enemies in this place (other than Boos).
PUMPKIN ZONE - STAGE 1.
By the way, you may have noticed that I've accumulated a massive 20 lives at this point, but that's not because I haven't been throwing the things away, the game's just really generous with them. In fact it's perfectly within my abilities to lose any one of these stages, and Mario still only has a maximum of three hit points at the best of times.
It's not taking me all that many retries to make progress though. It's a definite 'when' rather than 'if' game with regards to reaching level exits. Moreso even than in Super Mario Land 1, because as easy as that game can be, you still have to finish it without any saves or the option to grind for 1UPs.
Why does our hero have a giant mechanical statue of himself and why does it have a secret door in the crotch?
MARIO ZONE - STAGE 4.
It's pretty amazing to me how the artists managed to do so much in this game with just four shades of grey. I mean I'd rather it wasn't in black and white, but considering the hardware limitations this is a fine looking Game Boy game with very readable sprites and tons of character. Plus tons of slowdown on occasion, but I can forgive them considering how much more advanced this looks compared to Super Mario Land 1.
I've pretty much ran out of regular levels at this point though, so if I give up on trying to beat these creatures there's really no point in playing any more.
A FEW TRIES LATER.
Beating the bosses earned me my first coin, which immediately flew off to Castle Wario's creepy front door before I was even able to gamble it away. This seems like a pretty reasonable place to turn it off (I mean I was only supposed to be playing the game for an hour or two), but if I can beat this guy, the others can't be so hard can they?
THREE BOSS FIGHTS LATER.
Still, I can't believe I really beat him on my first try without taking a hit. Though he came bloody close at the end there; I wasn't expected him to suddenly fall from the ceiling like that. Wow, I just realised that I've only one more boss fight to go now before I'll be able to step inside Castle Wario and finish this.
ONE BOSS FIGHT LATER, INSIDE CASTLE WARIO.
Though the way these turrets are able to fire at me when I'm standing next to them is clearly breaking one of the oldest rules of Mario games.
Sorry Mario, but Wario's going to be keeping your castle, at least for today. Go crash at Peach's house maybe, it's not like she hasn't got a spare bedroom. In fact, I don't remember Mario living in a mansion in Super Mario RPG or Superstar Saga, so I'm just going to consider my failure here to be canon.
I didn't love Super Mario Land 2, but I found it very easy to like. Not surprising really considering how the developers went out of their way to make it appeal to me, with the big open world map, the replayable stages, the reappearance of my beloved Fire Flowers, and the way it saves after every level. It's perhaps a little too easy to make progress in it, but I've no complaints about the way you don't lose progress for screwing up. And it even saves your lives count!
The levels are a bit more open than the older Mario games I've been playing this month and that, combined with the more forgiving physics, conventional scrolling and less abstract level art, gives it a bit of a different feel. That plus the way it's in black and white and zoomed in close enough for you to see Mario's nose hairs I guess. At the core it's as mechanically sound as any of them though and they remembered to make the platforming fun. They also remembered not to turn levels into a maze and force players to collect 30 Mario Tokens to open the exit, or some bullshit like that, which I will always appreciate.
One thing that I can see putting people off though is the length of it. It's not a long game, especially considering how easy it can be, and I nearly made it through the whole thing accidentally. There's a half dozen secret levels to find and you can replay any stage, but there's not much to gain from doing that besides getting some extra lives and finding secret exits to make the number on your save game go up. Though I guess it does give you an excuse to do something else before tackling... Wario's Castle. Whether the rest of the game's too easy or the last level's far too challenging is a matter of opinion, but either way players are going to find that a significant piece of this game isn't going to suit their skill level.
It does have an Easy difficulty I suppose (activated by pressing 'Select' on the save slot select screen), but unless it also adds a checkpoint or two I'm not all that keen to try it out. Anyway the game's good, it can have a Gold Star, happy ending.
The comments box though... the comments box never changes. You're welcome to give me your opinions on Super Mario Land 2 and the Mario games in general, you can give me feedback on my site or let me know whether a monthful of Mario was a smart idea, and if you're really bored you can even guess what the next game will be.