Available on: GB
Super Mario World marked the last major, official Mario platformer for years to come, as Shigeru Miyamoto felt an urge to take the brand beyond that one genre. Gunpei Yokoi, who produced Super Mario Land for the Game Boy in 1989, assembled a whole new team to work on a sequel to the handheld classic in 1992, to keep the traditional Mario game alive and kicking. Designed by Hiroji Kiyotake, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins struck gold, and gave birth to yet another character who would become a mainstay in the franchise, as well as the star of a few games of his own: Wario.
Chasing out a squatter, Mario style
Mario returns from Sarasaland to find his own land, Mario Land, to be in complete shambles. During his absence, his evil cousin Wario has taken over the castle, renamed the area Wario Land and brainwashed the land's inhabitants to believe Mario is their enemy. Mario needs to gather the six golden coins used to open the castle gates to get in and chase Wario out of his house and his dominion for good.
|Bunny Mario vs. a butt-ugly|
It's clear there was a different team working on this game than the previous Super Mario Land; the soundtrack's only a small part of it. This time, the music's composed by Kazumi Totaka, and I must say it isn't too good. Once again, there's a remixed (nearly unrecognizable) version of a vintage Mario tune, the Underworld theme from Super Mario Bros., and it sounds fine, but the original score is quite unimaginative and bland. Well, it could easily be purely irritating, and it isn't, so I guess this is somewhat of a plus.
The easiest Mario game to compare Super Mario Land 2 to, is without a doubt its predecessor, however that's not very easy either. Making it to an alternative exit or touching a checkpoint bell high up in the air before exiting a stage has the same effect that exiting through the upper door in the end of each stage had in the first game - you're granted a bonus chance. The shooting stages are taken out of the fray, but they're somewhat replaced by just as special stages based on anti-gravitation or floating around inside a bubble.
|Wow. A Jason Voorhees|
wannabe with a knife stabbed
through his head. In a Mario
After finishing the first stage of the game, we are given the freedom of moving around on the world map, and that's not all - the game is completely, perfectly non-linear right up to the point you storm the castle. You can finish the different regions - called zones - of this newfound "Wario Land" in any order you wish, and stop by for a bonus game or two any time you wish, as long as you have the dough for it. In the case of at least one zone you will have to do the intro stage - the "gate" - over again if you decide to leave the zone in midway, but usually this isn't a problem. The world of Super Mario Land 2 is weird and unique. One zone - the mandatory underwater one - is entered by letting a giant turtle swallow Mario, one requires you to navigate through the mechanical innards of a huge Mario robot, one is a house which you'll have to enter while shrunken smaller than the ants in its garden, and in one zone you'll get to try how anti-gravity plays out in a traditional platformer. Not too easy, I can tell you. Each zone ends in a boss fight; all of them have the same basic idea, but the best strategy changes each time. All in all, there's an impressive total of 32 stages in the game, counting in the secret stages which I personally haven't found yet although I've beaten the game.
The power-ups have changed a bit. First, the new one: Magic Carrot, which turns Mario into Bunny Mario, the version of Mario depicted in the game's cover art. I know how it sounds like, but don't mock it 'til you've tried it. The bunny ears enable Mario to glide for an extended while, and the power-up itself grants Mario higher and longer jumps, as well as consecutive air jumps.
You probably won't believe this, but collecting 100 coins won't result in an extra life - this has got to be the first. However, you can use your coins to earn extra lives in a minigame hut located near your starting point on the world map. Depending on the size of your bet (30 to 999 coins), you can earn 1-99 extra lives with just one game. Of course, you can also get a power-up instead, or hit an enemy icon, which means all that cash you just laid down was for nothing.
|"Get out of my house."|
Despite some flaws, Super Mario Land 2 slaps its decent predecessor silly. It sports a storyboard and design which are perhaps detached from the rest of the franchise, but still cool, and the game occasionally works the Game Boy to its absolute max, proving its capability of running long and complexed games without too much technical difficulties. A quality handheld platformer, indeed.
Graphics : 8.8
Sound : 6.8
Playability : 8.4
Challenge : 8.2
Overall : 8.5
Composer Kazumi Totaka's signature piece "Totaka's Song" appears as a hidden track. It is heard in the Game Over screen, if the player waits for exactly 2 minutes and 30 seconds.