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Retro Game Review: Super Mario Land (Game Boy)

July 4, 2013

As a trial run in July, SaveUsFromObscurity will be doing Retro Game Reviews. We’ll be looking at games available through either the 3DS or Wii U Virtual Console. If it’s still fun to write these reviews, you’ll start to see more of them in the future. Feel free to comment with any critiques/thoughts on the review and the game! Thanks!

Almost 25 years ago, Mario made his first appearance on the Nintendo Gameboy, Nintendo’s first dip into the handheld gaming market. The game featured the first appearance of Princess Daisy (before she took on her current personality to differentiate her from Princess Peach), who took over the role of the damsel in distress. This game also featured a new foe for Mario, Tatanga the Alien (who other than an appearance in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins never re-appears in the Mario series. Unlike Wart though, he’s been pretty much forgotten by time by most Mario fans.)

I myself did not get to play this game when it first game out because… well… I didn’t exist yet. My first time playing it was during the launch of the 3DS’ virtual console in June 2011. What did I think of this strange first Mario handheld title after playing quite a few Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS games? Let’s find out…

The Basics: Gameplay and Graphics

Super Mario Land will play very similarly to Super Mario Bros. But let’s say you haven’t played a Mario game before (hypothetically of course). It’s a platforming game. Mario runs and jumps. You try not to hit moving enemies (like the turtles that blow up a few seconds after you jump on them… yes those exist in this game), jump across gaps and onto platforms, collect coins, maybe get a power-up to help you take out more enemies you can’t just jump on, and then reach the end of the level before time runs out. Two levels with feature vehicles that will cause the stage to scroll on its own while you basically just try to survive. It’s a different kind of Mario game, but it is a Mario game.

Graphically, remember this: It was one of the first games for the Gameboy. Look back at the first Xbox 360 games and compare them to today. Different right? Even Super Mario Land 2 looked significantly better than this game. So yeah, for today’s standards… yeah, it looks pretty bad. But if you can keep an open mind for when this game came out, and have a little bit of nostalgia for the old days, the look actually has a little bit of a charm to it. If not, then yeah, this will look really weird to you.

Story: What are you trying to do?

It’s not exactly a complex story, but here it goes. Some alien named Tatanga kidnapped Princess Daisy and sent four bosses to each of the four kingdoms in Sarasaland to keep control over the entire land. Mario for some reason finds out about this and goes off to save Princess Daisy, as all great heroes do. Meanwhile, Luigi never got the memo and is crying because he wanted to save his own Princess. Thanks a lot for stealing the spotlight again, Mario. This is why Luigi is so awkward! He never gets a chance to prove himself! (At least until Luigi’s Mansion and New Super Luigi U…)

Issues: Does it have any flaws worth noting?

Gameplay wise, it plays like a Mario game, but I suppose the change in certain levels (like the vehicle parts) can be a little weird. Not necessarily gameplay wise, it just feels weird to play. Again, it is a little different from the original Super Mario Bros (and not in the way Super Mario Bros 2. is different from Super Mario Bros.) I was able to get used to it, but it may feel weird to play for some people. Honestly though, it isn’t too much of a concern.

The Recommendation: Is this game right for you?

There’s a lot of people and a lot of reasons why people enjoy playing video games. From those looking for a solo experience, to those looking to entertain. Let’s see whether or not Super Mario Land can appeal to you.

For Solo Players: Platforming fans should enjoy this game. I find it best to play when you’re trying to kill a few minutes (I played it a bit while waiting to pick up my younger brother in the car.) It’s not a very long game, and if you really want to beat it, it won’t take long to master/beat the game. Again, that’s why I recommend playing it when you only have a few minutes to spare. It’s one of those games. I will say that Super Mario Bros is probably the better game, but that was designed for a console, with better controls, and for longer playtime. This game didn’t have any of those advantages, and came out when the Game Boy first game out.

For those with more than one player: It’s a single player game.

For those looking for a good story: It’s a Mario game. You shouldn’t be playing this for a grand epic.

Overall: I’d say if you have a few dollars to spare, pick it up. If you’re the person who brings your 3DS everywhere, Super Mario Land is a great on-the-go virtual console game to play when you have a free minute or two. Although I’ve heard people say the sequel Super Mario Land 2 is better, this game has its charm. Give it a chance, especially if this is your first time exploring the vast collection of the Gameboy’s library.

Thanks for reading this Retro Review! Feel free to critique it below, and give your additional thoughts on the review or the game! Stay tuned for another Retro Review coming soon!

Are you ready for July? San Diego Comic Con is almost here! And in addition, a few big DVD announcements and more are on the way! E3 and the Licensing Expo may be over, but the big announcements and reveals have only just begun! Multiple DVDs/Graphic Novel will be released! And beyond this month lies even bigger arrivals! Are you prepared for what’s to come? Follow the upcoming news wave by checking out the main site regularly for official news posts, reviews, and more! You can also follow the official twitter account for breaking news, as well as other crazy rambling from a mad man! Summer may be half way over, but that doesn’t mean the content is slowing down. Welcome to the second half of 2013. Things are just about to heat up!

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