To put a gaming spin on a classic phrase, every great Nintendo machine has a great Mario game behind it. Only in the most recent console cycles has Nintendo started off one of their machines without a headlining plumber title, and this can be claimed true for 3DS as well. Their first handheld machine, Game Boy, begin its successful career with the first Super Mario Land game: one of the more unusual entries in the franchise that involved exploding Koopa Troopers, fireballs that could not only wound foes but collect coins, and the moustachioed-one piloting a plane and a submarine. The inevitable Super Mario Land 2 brought things back to a more conventional level though still maintained quirks of its very own. Now joining its predecessor for easy downloadable access on the 3DS eShop, does this black and white gem hold against the weathering of time?
Story has never been an essential part of Mario lore, though it is worth mentioning that kidnapped princesses play no part in this game, nor is there any sign of a gigantic fire breathing lizard-koopa thing. Instead, Mario returns to his island home after saving Princess Daisy in the first game, only to find that an evil doppelganger has taken over, corrupted Mario’s castle and sealed access to it with six golden coins hidden throughout the land in six unique locations, selectable in any order thanks to an overhead world map. Cue lots of running, jumping, and bruised skulls.
Unlike the zoomed-out view of the older game that likened Mario’s size to that of a gnat, this game is a lot closer to the action, with all the usual Mario staples present: super mushrooms, blocks, enemies to jump on and platforms to leap to; fan paradise in shortened terms. Players will notice that many levels have slightly longer stretches of nothingness between enemy and item-populated segments; this was reportedly to help with the original Game Boy’s screen ghosting problem, which is thankfully not an issue here. Though the game is in pre-colour TV mode, the visuals are bright, clear and concise, more so on 3DS’ screen than anywhere else before it. Mario has more of a floaty feel than his other games in Super Mario Land 2 (a trait that is heightened considerably in the space-themed levels), but this can quickly be adapted to.
Music is also great, providing a unique blend of chiptunes and backing themes, culminating in Wario’s final track, signalling his gaming debut, being a particular highlight. There isn’t a wide array of themes, and some of them that share a certain soundbite quality -- much like the New Super Mario Bros. tunes -- that might annoy after repeated hearings, but they’re enjoyable enough for what they are.
One new item to this game and the franchise in general -- and yet to be used anywhere else -- is the carrot power up that bestows upon Mario a rockin’ pair of bunny ears. Much like the cape of SNES’ Super Mario World, this lets Mario glide for long distances and jump even higher than normal; a useful tool for areas of the game that demand it. The Fire Flower also returns, and regains its former ground-bouncing trajectory minus the coin-grabbing ability.
Super Mario Land 2 stands out from most other franchise entries by the way its levels are utilized. There aren’t many other games where your hero will explore levels structured inside of a giant robot version of himself for example, nor fighting an old foe on the Moon after jumping into a bubble blown by a hippo to get there. Much like the flagpoles of old, the end of level goals stick a bell at the top of the exit gates, and managing to jump and hit it triggers a bonus level for lives and power ups. Similar rewards can also be obtained from a certain dome on the island map, provided you have the necessary currency fee, which provides the incentive for coin collection in the game. If anything though, these rewards are too generous, and this brings to light Super Mario Land 2’s two biggest flaws.
The most obvious one is that the game is too short. Naturally, 2D Mario games are notorious for speed runs and acts of devilish skill in navigating the levels with ease, but even with 32 levels the game is over far too quickly. Not helping this case is the game’s difficulty, or lack thereof; provided you can reach the buttons okay you won’t find much of a challenge in the game. It’s a fun experience no doubt, but save for the very last dungeon -- which features an enormous difficulty spike -- you can finish the game in a couple of hours no problem. As this is only the game’s second release on any format, it is still a must-play for any platforming fan and gamer in general, but most will want to take it slow and savour the experience.
Flawless movement control even with 3DS’ Circle Pad, coupled with intricate and memorable level design make for an enjoyable Mario platformer. Difficulty can be too lenient at times, though this does serve to open the game up to lesser skilled players.
Bright blocky visuals that pushed forward the potential of the original Game Boy, and of which still hold up excellently well today. Lack of a colour option is a shame, though that can be attributed to Nintendo’s overall stubbornness.
Catchy and memorable tunes accompany the levels and do so excellently, though there aren’t enough of them to avoid repetition in the long run.
For a measly £3.60 of UK dosh you’ll be getting one of the best portable Mario games, albeit one that won’t test you for 95% of it, and where the 100% is far too swift to reach. Despite this, the purchase is more than validated for those who have yet to play it.
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Easily one of the early highlights for the 3DS eShop, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins brings a pure platforming experience to handheld owners, together with some unique attributes for the game to call its own. Length and toughness issues aside, Mario’s second portable endeavour and Wario’s introduction is simply a must play.
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I would say that this is the Super Mario game for me, that Super Mario Bros. is for so many others. It is the first Super Mario game I played, and I lend it from a friend in school so many times. I was so happy (!!!) to see it being released for my Nintendo 3DS!
I remembered this game being very difficult for me, and I was having the Game Over text on my screen a lot of times. But now I had no huge problems beating the levels or bosses, and I did not use much time to beat the entire game and secret levels.
But it still is a really fun game. But I can not tell if it is just because of nostalgia for me. (:
I can remember hating the first Super Mario Land, but that was because.. to me, the Super Mario Bros. series was a lot more enjoyable.
Fast forward to now and I thought I'd give it another try by purchasing it on the eShop, loved it. Then I bought this one (SML2) and I loved it even more.
Though for me, no other 2D Mario title will ever beat Super Mario Bros. 3. Super Mario World comes very close, but I don't have as many memories as I do from playing SMB3 with my eldest brother, I still play it every now and then.