Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. Nintendo (1993) Gameboy

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Super Mario Land 2 box art

I don’t like Super Mario Land 1, it wasn’t a bad game, it just didn’t capture the essence of Mario. The music was off, the physics shonkey, and it was stupidly short. I ordered SML1 and 2 at the same time, and after 1 I was kind of regretting my decision to buy 2. 

Story

Set immediately after SML 1, as Mario returns from Sarasaland, Wario (in his first appearance) has taken over Mario’s castle. I didn’t know Mario had a castle, but in SML2 he does.

Anyway, you set out and collect the 6 Golden Coins which will unlock the castle, and allow you to have the final showdown with Wario. No damsels in distress, no princess kidnapping. Just jumping on Koopa and Goomba heady goodness.

Gameplay

Unlike SML1, SML2 handles exactly like a Mario game should, the physics are right and the powers work properly.

SML2 works as a kind of hybrid of Super Mario 3 and Super Mario World in that you have a overworld map, that circles around the castle. The key difference, is you can take the worlds on in whatever order you like. You don’t need any powers to do a specific level, so you are very much free to take things on in your own order.

Unlike pretty much every other Mario game, coins no longer give you an extra life, but are used to gamble for rewards in a casino like minigame.

In SML2, you get the usual Mushroom and Flower Powers, as well as the new “Bunny Ears”, this is effectively the leaf/feather from other Marios, but with added bouncy jumping, and the ability to slowly descend. If you get this power on any level, you can basically skip EVERYTHING. It is a little over powered, and if you take a hit, you return to Super Mario form, rather than Small. This means (with flower as well) you have 3 hit points, since all bosses have 3 hit points (apart from Pigs and Wario) you can’t fail.

sml2bunny

Levels

Each of the 6 Zones have their own look, style, and mechanics, meaning the game is nicely paced. Turtle Zone, which is water based, and therefore slower, only have 3 levels, The Pumpkin Zone is a spooky Halloween style zone, and is by far the hardest of the 6 zones (I died twice!).

Mario Zone is inside a mechanical marionette, so the level involves platforming jumping on gears, type levels. It is a novelty, and I can remember this blowing my mind as a child. The Three Little Pigs boss is perhaps the coolest fight in the game, and also the hardest by virtue of “hits” they take. You fight sequentially, the three pigs, Straw, Wood, and Brick, each takes 3 hits each and they dead.

Macro Zone is an attempt at a Giant would, it is alright, but a bit too short.

The Space Zone is a little annoying as it is hidden away, but features gravity based jumping, and features Tatanga as a boss fight.

The other area, Tree Zone is the only level with braching paths, literally, on a branch… It is nice in style and flow, as you start at the base of the tree, the second level is climbing up a sappy inside of a tree, the 4th level(s) are on the tree branches, and the boss level is at the top of the tree.

Finally, once all 6 bosses are defeated, and the 6 coins collected, you go to your castle to take on Wario.

Level Map for Wario's castle

Level Map for Wario’s castle

This is actually pretty hard. The level is 3/4 times longer than the other levels, there are no checkpoints, and power ups are scarce. So if you fuck up, it is back to the beginning. I’ll be honest, it took me about 10 lives to do. The first life I tried, I got to Wario, but misjumped and died. The other 8/9 times I just flailed around dying in random spots.

It is unforgiving, but anyone with reactions better than me getting increasingly grumpy will complete it.

Graphics

It is a Gameboy game, so they are never going to be great, but Mario looks like Super Mario 3/Super Mario World Mario, and everything on screen is recognisable.

Super Mario Land 1 and 2 comparison

Super Mario Land 1 and 2 comparison

The music, while original to SML2 is recognisble to the Mario style, but features none of the previous games music.

Conclusions

This is the game SML1 should have been. It still isn’t a brilliant game, but it is worth a playthrough. The nature of the Gameboy means it is going to be short, not have great graphics, and pretty average sound. But That doesn’t mean Mario is poor.

It took me about 60 minutes to complete on my first attempt in 20 years, so there is a little life in this game, and I didn’t look for all the secret rooms, and exits/levels. So SML2 does offer a little replay value.

Give it a go, it is worth it. It won’t change your life, you have played this game a million times if you have played any other Mario, but it is nice to play so you can slot it in to the Mario Canon.

Pros: It is very good for a Gameboy game

Cons: If you played a Mario game, you will complete this with your eyes closed.

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