Personal Favorite: SUPER MARIO LAND 2 – SIX GOLDEN COINS
When the Game Boy was launched it had 6 games. The two most popular were Tetris and Super Mario Land. Super Mario Land was the first Mario game not developed by Miyamoto. It also was the first to be set in Sarasaland instead of the Mushroom Kingdom and it features Princess Daisy instead of Peach. Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins came out in 1992 and was a direct sequel. It takes place in Mario Land where a new villain named Wario has taken over while Mario was away saving Sarasaland. There are a handful of differences between Super Mario Land 2 and typical Mario platformers. The main difference is that instead of progressing through the game in a controlled direction the player has the freedom to take on each of the six worlds in any order they choose. After beating a world they unlock one of six locks that will eventually unlock the final world. Super Mario Land 2 also has unique enemies and power-ups. The game itself is very short, its possible to complete it in under two hours. Critics complained about the short game time but enjoyed it overall.
I like the box and label art of Super Mario Land 2 a lot. Its bright, has the bunny ears, is full of unique characters and it gives you the idea of how the “line-art” visual style is gonna look in-game. While it is old and outdated visually, at the time it was a good visual choice. The line art style performed well on the Game Boy because it doesn’t give a blurring effect when Mario runs quickly across levels, a problem some other Game Boy games had. It also has some great songs, especially the tree world themes.
While I do agree it sucks the game is short I think overall this was a fantastic game for the time period. The new enemies, over-world design and power-ups make Super Mario Land games feel like a whole new experience and differentiate themselves. The biggest differentiation of Super Mario Land 2 is probably the coin system. In every other Mario plat-former when you gather 100 coins you gain a free life and that’s typically the only use for them. In Super Mario Land 2 coins accumulate between levels and they are used to buy access into mini-games which can award power-ups or 1Ups. To gain lives you have to find hearts instead, which are easiest obtained in end-of-level mini-games. Super Mario Land 2 also tracks the number of enemies you’ve killed. Every time you kill 100 you get access to a typical star power-up that grants brief invincibility. It may not be a better formula than the usual system but it is a fun change of pace. I’m betting there are a good chunk of you who have never played this series, maybe never even seen it. If haven’t you should definitely track them down, especially Super Mario Land 2. They may not be the best Mario games ever, but they are unique and a fun change of pace and formula.