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Super Mario Land (Game Boy) artwork

Super Mario Land (Game Boy) review


"Super Mario Land was one of the launch titles for the Gameboy and alongside Tetris, it may be the best game that the system has to offer. It took the basic Mario formula from the original NES classic, Super Mario Bros and added a few new ingredients to make it a little different from its bigger brother. It plucked our heroic plumber from the Mushroom kingdom, his usual base for his adventures and dropped him in the Sasaraland. Here, our chubby plumber was out to rescue Princess Daisy (What h..."



Super Mario Land was one of the launch titles for the Gameboy and alongside Tetris, it may be the best game that the system has to offer. It took the basic Mario formula from the original NES classic, Super Mario Bros and added a few new ingredients to make it a little different from its bigger brother. It plucked our heroic plumber from the Mushroom kingdom, his usual base for his adventures and dropped him in the Sasaraland. Here, our chubby plumber was out to rescue Princess Daisy (What happened to Princess Peach!?! You unfaithful bastard!) from the clutches of Tatanga, an alien who wants some skirt for himself, no horny oversized turtle king this time around.

Super Mario Land has a mixed bag of features, it contains the basic premise of SMB but does a few things differently. Firstly, the general concept is the same, you run from left to right, collecting coins and head butting blocks with the question mark to gain power ups and stomping on foe’s heads. Mario can also collect numerous power ups to enhance his skills, when he collects a mushroom, he turns into Super Mario, a stronger and taller version of himself who can take an extra hit from enemies. He can collect the fire flower, which allows him to throw fireballs at his enemies. Mario can also collect a star which will give him the power of invincibility for a brief period of time or he can pick up a heart, which will give him the joys of another try.

The main changes here are the shooter levels, on two occasions, Mario will ride a submarine and fly an aeroplane through two stages in the game. In these stages, you’ll be attacked by countless flying (or swimming )monsters. Mario will be able to lay out an unfathomable supply of bullets from his machine which are not only the dab hand at blasting away monsters but they can blow away excess blocks as well, perfect for clearing a pathway if the way is choked-up. Having a submarine for the underwater levels makes things a lot easier than flubbing around in the water like SMB on the NES and they’re a heck of a lot more fun. If I had to pick between pressing jump really fast or shooting enemies to pieces with a gun, my choice would be obvious.

These are the two basic level designs and they are rough basic layouts for all of the adventures in Super Mario Land. We only have twelve levels here that are divided into four stages of three. In Sarasaland, Mario will run through a desert, a pyramid, a valley of Easter Island heads and an underground cavern, each are packed with enemies that you might recognise from earlier Mario games and some which are brand new. The koopas are not what they seem to be, one stomp on these turtles will force them into their shells and newcomers will get a nasty surprise as they try to kick the dormant shells. Instead of being kicked away the shell will blow up in Mario’s face and it will knock the plumber down a peg, or if he wasn’t up a peg to begin with, he’ll lose a life.

We also have robots that throw their heads at you, fish that leap out of the water, seahorses that spit stuff and immortal China hat hook bearers who do not stay down. When you squash them they’ll lie down for a few seconds and leap back up after you. The only option you have is to stun them and the bolt across the screen because you can have about three on your tail simultaneously. The bosses use the same kind of formula that SMB used. When you are confronted by the boss, you must sneak past it and push the button at the far end of the screen. Instead of dropping the bad guy into a pit of lava the button causes the bad guy to spontaneously combust. You’ll use this method to shatter the Sphinx, sink the seahorse and break the boulder so all you have to do is avoid the opponent and get behind him. If you have a mushroom, just run right through him and hit the switch. (This is just a suggestion, I did it the real way, I swear to God.)

One final addition is the bonus stages that lie at the end of every basic level. When you reach the end, you have a choice between two doors, one will be located at the bottom which will give you a one-way ticket to the next stage. However, if you jump up the ladder positioned blocks (be careful, they can fall) and reach the top door, you’ll get to play the bonus game. Basically, you’ll see four platforms in front of you and at the end of each platform lies a prize, either a handful of extra lives or a fire flower. Mario and a ladder will randomly flash from platform to platform and pressing A will stop them, allowing Mario to grasp the prize at the end, this is a great way on stocking up on extra lives. It’s not hard, all you have to do is time it right and you’ll be loaded with more goes.

Mario Land is pretty basic, everything is tiny, something that sequel improved on massively. Mario is tiny, even as Super Mario he’s small. He looks similar to his SMB days but with less detail and, of course no colour. The backgrounds weren’t too bad actually, the drawings of the Sphinx, Easter Island heads and other background treasures look great even though they’re extremely basic. Enemies are a really mixed bag, goombas and koopas are just little black balls on the screen while the bugs, robots and walking rocks are quite impressive.

The first level music on Mario Land is easily a classic tune, it’s just as memorable as the original Mario theme on the NES. The tunes tend to be fairly fast and toe-tapping for the outside levels and little more on the gloomy side for the indoor levels, the plodding underground music or the dreary and creepy tunes for the caverns and such. After listening to these classic tunes, it will drag you away to distant memories of when you first played the game many years ago and these classic tunes first touched your ears. However, if you’re not familiar with these tracks you’ll be given a pleasant surprise and you’ll listen in awe as these classic tunes entice you into the game.

Mario Land is short and it is very easy but the fact that you can play it for ages and ages, replaying the short yet strong levels over and over. The game is a classic part of the Mario series despite the fact that it does a few things differently. The amalgamation of the same old stuff and various different bits and bobs make Super Mario Land a fun portable platformer that is brilliant for keeping you busy for an hour or so. Then, after that hour you could start from scratch and complete it again. It’s not too hard to find in the shops, nearly every second hand game store has a copy of it and if you’re truly hardcore, you can go to Spain and buy a brand new boxed version. It’s too bad that I missed my chance on that occasion.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by goldenvortex (March 20, 2005)

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