This week is a first for the blog – our first portable title. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Giant Bomb|Wikipedia) was released in late 1992 for the Game Boy. The first Mario Land was a bit disappointing – it released early in the consoles life cycle and feels like the developers attempted to port the home console Mario experience directly to the Game Boy. Unfortunately, it didn’t work well at all. Sprites were very small, jumping physics were floaty and didn’t feel right, and even the music was bad. All of these issues were thankfully fixed for Mario Land 2.
The game begins with you selecting a save game, and if you start a new save you are plopped right into the first set of stages titled “Mario Zone”. According to Giant Bomb’s wiki each zone, of which there are six total, has around four or five stages. I played the entire Mario Zone and the first level of Tree Zone. The levels themselves are fairly large, but only take a couple of minutes to finish, which is one of the main reasons I love Mario platformers in general. The game saves automatically for you when you complete a stage, perfect for a portable. Gameplay is typical for Mario – you run and jump, collect coins and powerups, and reach the end of the stage to finish it.Outside of each zone is a world map where you can freely move to different zones and tackle the levels in any order. I think this is a great touch and something that is sorely missing in Super Mario 3. There are some bonus stages on the open world map that you can go to in between regular stages.
This is a great looking Game Boy game – period. The sprites are large and detailed for the resolution it’s running at and for the most part it runs well. I say for the most part because I did run into several instances of slowdown when multiple moving objects were on screen at the same time – not unexpected but a bit disappointing none the less. This is a Game Boy title, so it’s only got four shades of grey to work with, but I think the artists did a great job with the tools they had.
Sound was great – I expected no less from a Nintendo developed Game Boy title. Music was, well, fantastic and fit the game perfectly. Sound effects were also excellent and never annoyed me or stood out as an poor fit.
The epitome of what makes Mario great is on full display here – the controls are tight and feel perfect; the powerups are simple, intuitive, and meaningful; stages have a theme and are different enough from each other to be interesting; and it’s all wrapped in a package that looks and sounds great.
Verdict: Play again! This was a big surprise after playing the original, and since it seems that it won’t take too long to beat I may play all the way through later this year.
Images courtesy of Giant Bomb