GB – #18 – Super Mario Land

History:

Always knew this series existed, but never played any of the titles.

Expectations:

This one should be interesting. If I’m not mistaken this game was not actually developed by Nintendo, so while I’m hoping for a solid run and jump experience, I really don’t know entirely what to expect!


Day 1:

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Not gonna lie… The first impression I got from this game was not a good one. It felt like such a Super Mario “knock-off” that it was hard to see any value at all. I played a few minutes, got to 1-2 and turned it off. I just didn’t care.

When things quieted down around the house I decided to pick up the Gameboy again and give it another go, this time getting to World 2, and encountering my first Schmup level…

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This felt… brilliant! Water levels in Mario are supposed to be horrible but this was just fantastic. Incredibly fun. I made it to 3-1 before getting game over and deciding I’d finish the game up on the Super Gameboy.

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Playing on the TV with a controller certainly made things “less hard”, but the incredibly awkward controls and physics in this game remained. It doesn’t control anything like a proper Mario game, nor does it handle in any reasonable way you’d expect it to.

In any case, I made it to 2-2 before my game froze. I took some rubbing alcohol to the contacts and still had some issues getting it to start. This time I made it to 1-2 before the music started getting really wonky. Sure enough, a freeze was imminent. After that I couldn’t get the game to read at all, so it was time to open the cart and apply some proper contact cleaner. Yahtzee!

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After World 2 the game spikes in difficulty, and you find yourself dodging Bullet Bill turrets coming out of pipes and riding giant stone wheels across spike pits!

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4-1 and 4-2 were appropriately intense, as the game only has four worlds. I went from 15 lives all th eway down to about 4 here, and there was a real risk of wasting this entire play session. With a bit of skill and a lot of luck, I was able to make it to the final stage…

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4-3 was another scrolling shooter level! Much more relaxed than the staging leading up to it, I was able to make it to the last two bosses and defeat them very easily.

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Way better than Peach.


Conclusion:

I was ready to write this game off pretty quickly, but I’m glad I gave it a fair shot. As a Mario game I still think it’s pretty awful to be honest. The controls are terrible, it’s lacking in any of that classic Mario style, and everything just feels a little cheap. On it’s own though, and in the context of it being the only other Gameboy game to play at the time besides Tetris, it’s really decent. You get used to the controls, the difficulty is hard but never “too” hard, and the game is just about the right length for a portable platformer designed to be played straight through. All in all, Super Mario Land is an okay game, and it warrants a playthrough.

Liked:

– Good length for a portable platformer.
– Actually decent soundtrack, despite not being from the classic Mario score.
– Fair difficulty curve, complimented by plenty of chances to get extra lives.
– Cultural relevance as a Gameboy launch title.
– Awesome sidescrolling shooter levels.
– Daisy.

Disliked:

– Absolutely horrible handling, leading to several cheap deaths.
– Game itself looked and played like a watered down Mario port, rather than a proper title.

Super Mario Land

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