Available on: GB
On the 21st of February, 1989, Nintendo introduced the world to the most technologically advanced handheld console ever seen at that point in time, the Nintendo Game Boy. On that same day, Super Mario Land arrived to the Game Boy as a launch title. Mario debuted on a handheld console in a game very reminiscent of his 1985 adventure Super Mario Bros., but thematically different platformer. Due to his Super Mario World and A Link to the Past projects among others, Shigeru Miyamoto passed design and production duties over to his mentor and close friend Gunpei Yokoi. To this day, Super Mario Land has remained a cult favourite despite being somewhat of an oddball among early, traditional Mario platformers.
Aliens vs. Mario
An alien warlord by the name of Tatanga invades the peaceful Sarasaland and kidnaps Princess Daisy to force her hand in marriage. Mario sets out on a journey through Sarasaland to confront Tatanga in the kingdom of Chai and rescue Daisy.
Graphically, the game is like Super Mario Bros. in black and white. The design turns out very different, though. It's like Super Mario Bros. injected with huge doses of mythology and science fiction. The music is composed by Hip Tanaka instead of Koji Kondo, and only an extremely modified version of the Overworld theme from Super Mario Bros. remains, as the background tune for the couple of automatically scrolling shooting stages. The music is OK, even if it's a bit weird that even the Starman theme was changed.
|The pyramid of Birabuto.|
The power-ups are the same as in Super Mario Bros., but there are a couple of changes. First, the 1-Up Mushroom is replaced with a simple heart icon. Second, the Fire Flower enables Mario to ricochet fireballs off walls to gather coins that are out of his reach, and to tactically dispose of enemies. As you progress, power-ups become very scarce and that makes getting one in a bonus game that much more practical. Extra lives are handed to you in large amounts, via the bonus games and huge coin rooms traditionally entered via pipes.
The boss fights also work the same way, even if they're really different in every other way; if you have the Fire Flower power-up, you can defeat the bosses with your fireballs, or just make your way to the lever in the back of the room to blast 'em into oblivion. In the vintage, slightly modified Super Mario Bros. style, upon conquering the first three kingdoms in the game, a monster disguised as Princess Daisy will thank you before ditching the charade and leading you to another stage.
|The shooting stages are|
Super Mario Land is a fun little platformer, and it has strong cult value in the Mario universe. However, the controls aren't up to par with the Mario standard. The game's downgraded by a disappointing lot once you get to the final stages and are forced to face long sequences involving moving platforms. Mario's jumping ability is very weak, and the distance in particular is very random at its worst. Invisible walls are all around, and in the final stages there are a lot of narrow platforms, in which a certain lack of traction comes into play. Until World 4, I hadn't really broken a sweat with the game and I had about 20 lives or something like that - within five minutes, I had lost over a half of my lives solely due to the invisible walls in the air and my inability to keep Mario from running into chasms like a retard.
Despite the somewhat frustrating controls and scarce power-ups, Super Mario Land really ain't that hard. The stages are extremely long, but they're mostly stitched together from just a few different screens and situations. On top of all there are so many checkpoints and extra lives possible to obtain, that I really can't see anyone, who's ever played a Mario game before, failing the game. Beating the whole thing shouldn't take more than an hour. So, it's a little frustrating, but easy in the long run. Good, light entertainment as long as it lasts.
Graphics : 8.0
Sound : 8.2
Playability : 8.0
Challenge : 7.0
Overall : 8.0
The first Mario production without Shigeru Miyamoto's involvement.