This is a re-review of Super Mario Land, to see the original (and how it all started), click here!
Wow! I’m going back to this game. This is quite special to me, this game and this review. This was the first Mario game I ever played and this was the first game I ever reviewed. So I was in college as a teenager (No, it’s not that college, I’m in the UK, college is not your college, we have Universities). I did an IT course for about four years which left me mentally screwed to the point that I never look back. Anyway, one of the tasks I needed to do in one of those years was to make a blog and I could make it about anything.
I could have made it about Doctor Who, and I think I did but I forgot the password to my account so I just decided to make a gaming review blog, I couldn’t think of a creative name and ended up typing Every Gamer Review. Then I was thinking of what game to review, after about a few seconds of thought, how about the game that got me into Mario. So I wrote a review of it, a very simple one since this was way out of my forte, I mean sure, I did review Doctor Who episodes and I tried to make video reviews of it but the BBC didn’t want my videos to be used, fair use or not and one has barely survived via audio…just like the missing episodes of Doctor Who.
I didn’t do much with the blog site, I went to Blogger to post game reviews, but looking back, they’re very poor and I would play a game for like 5 minutes or so depending on the game itself, and write about it, they’re simple but very amateurish. After a while of people barely reading them, I went back to WordPress and the rest is history. This blog site has been around for five years, with the third year being the most active, but I might as well use this as a special review. And for those who are considering looking for the Blogger site, I deleted it.
Since then, I still continue on reviewing games, planning new things for the site, teaming up with another reviewer, and even making YouTube videos called Rushed Gaming, I want to add more to the blog site…even if I’m a one-man team. But anyway, I think it’s time to re-review the first ever game I ever reviewed.
Who needs Super Mario Run when you have a game that uses physical buttons! The Game Boy, designed by…well, I was going to say Gunpei Yokoi, but that may not seem to be the case, if you read this interview of Satoru Okada. Here’s the link, but take it with a pinch of salt regardless.
Super Mario Land (スーパーマリオランド, Sūpā Mario Rando), developed by Nintendo Research & Development 1 and published by Nintendo and was released in 1989 in Japan and in the US and in 1990 in Europe. This game was one of the launch titles for the handheld console. Europe on the other hand got Alleyway and Tetris…fewer games than what Japan and the US got for their launch day, once again, Nintendo shafted Europe because apparently it was funny to them.
I’ll praise the developers for doing something that would be considered crazy nowadays; the game is NOT set in the Mushroom Kingdom that isn’t set in another dimension. Princess Daisy is the ruler of Sarasaland, a world filled with new monsters and strange lands. But Daisy is kidnapped by an alien called Tatanga, who wants to marry her and become his queen. Mario somehow got the news and, probably bored of Peach and her cakes, travels to Sarasaland to rescue Daisy. So we have another world, another princess but a new enemy…but the plot is similar to the other games anyway.
The game is simply Mario, without the advances of Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario can still run and jump in four kingdoms instead of eight kingdoms in the console games, each of them are based on real life countries. These kingdoms include Birabuto Kingdom, based on Egypt. Muda Kingdom (MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDA MUDAAAAAA…sorry) is a cross between the lost continent Mu and Bermuda. Easton Kingdom is Easter Island. And Chai Kingdom is China, and Chai Kingdom is home to Princess Daisy, meaning that Daisy is technically Chinese…possible food for thought?
Despite the world technically portraying real life, it’s still made in the style of a Mario game; it’s a nice departure from the usual set-up from Mario games, and it’s something I’ve wanted in future Mario games; I want a Mario game set in Sarasaland again. The world design is somewhat strange, minimalistic, but still good enough for a handheld…and yes, I know the design is quite basic despite the world being unique, but you have to remember that this was a launch title but even then it’s still a fresh new world to explore…for about half an hour since this game is really short and really easy, so beat the game in a Sunday afternoon, in the toilet, in a plane, at a convention and be branded a hipster if you’re playing it on an original Game Boy, the possibilities are endless. The music is way too catchy, and it’s not even composed by Koji Kondo, but Hirokazu Tanaka, who also composed for games such as Metroid, Kid Icarus, Tetris, Dr. Mario, and even EarthBound. Each track for each kingdom has their own personality, even from the caves and the shoot ‘em up sections.
With a new world comes new enemies and they’re pretty unique, with the Goombas being replaced with Goombos. There’s not much differences other than that in-game they look like a hybrid between a Poké Ball and an Electrode. There are some enemies from the original games, but there are some that are strange and wonderful, even some that fit the kingdom you’re in. Though be careful of the Bombshell Koopas, because once you jump on them, they turn into a bomb and detonate, now that is a surprise change from the original Mario games, I’m guessing the limitations of the Game Boy at the time that the developers couldn’t program the ricochet movement of the original Mario games.
The gameplay as I said…well, it’s a Mario game, but because of it being a handheld game, it’s very simple but has the elements of a Mario game. You still pick up Super Mushrooms to grow big, get a Star Man to be invincible for a short period of time and even 1-ups that…are depicted as hearts, due to the limitations of the Game Boy. But there is a new power-up because of the Game Boy limitations, called the Super Ball, in which they work similarly to the Fire Flower but you simply shoot a ball and it bounces around and at one point, is good enough to kill a spider at an angle’s hit.
Are there any differences that make Super Mario Land its own unique game other than the different world and the fact that it’s portable? Two levels are shoot ‘em ups! Yep, in what may be the Kid Icarus way, there are two levels that are shoot ‘em ups. One level involves Mario swimming in a submarine shooting fishes and other sealife for the glory of Princess Daisy. And the final level consists of Mario flying an aeroplane shooting birds for the glory of Princess Daisy. These levels are quite fun and a nice break from the platforming sections, had the game been longer we would have had more since they’re small and short. And yes, the final level is a shoot ‘em up, and it’s a not-so-tough battle against Tatanga, ending with Mario rescuing Daisy and flying to wherever they go with one of the best end credits for a Mario game, I love it.
Overall, Super Mario Land is as basic as a Mario game can be, but it’s handheld elements, it’s strange new world and fun gameplay makes it a game I can go back for more when I need to. I know that Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins remains the better game in every way, but yeah, I grew up with Super Mario Land, I didn’t even play the sequel until a couple of years ago, but I’ve had years of this game. I love the game so much I also bought the Virtual Console 3DS port so I can bring it anywhere…doctor’s surgery anyone?
But it’s not nostalgia that blinds me because it’s not perfect, the graphics do look dated despite its cool design and the game is short, but I think it was a great introduction to the Mario series for kids like me back in the day. I recommend this to children as their first Mario game, it has enough challenge they can handle but still fun to try again. But for everyone else, it’s a game to play when there’s nothing to do or you have 30-60 minutes to burn.
You can get it on the Game Boy and the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console.