i took a break from a long game to play one of the few mario games i’ve never really touched, namely that game boy classic super mario land. the game is pretty noteworthy for being one of the first game boy titles, and in that light it’s def. worthy of respect. but from a modern-day perspective the game is really pretty average in almost every way.
the game makes decent use of the mario universe, with items including the power-up mushroom, starman, and fire flower (the latter providing a slightly diff. ability) making their appearance, along with variations on classic characters including goombas, koopas, and piranha plants. but aside from the mario trappings the gameplay is pretty uninspired all around, perhaps unsurprising given the fact that mario master miyamoto didn’t work on the title. there are no secret areas aside from underground coin rooms like the ones that appeared in the original mario bros., and the stages just don’t have anything we haven’t seen in hundreds of other platformers, with the exception of two fairly dull anomalous shooter-like stages in which mario pilots a submarine and an airplane. the gameplay is also hampered by the small sprites, which means landing on enemies often requires pixel-perfect accuracy. at the time of its release, though, it must have been great for players to get to revisit the classic original super mario bros. gameplay and esp. to take it on the go. the second playthrough, which features many more enemies, is much more entertaining, but it still doesn’t hide the fact that the game is easily among the least compelling of the entire series.
the one great contribution to the mario universe that the game did provide though is the introduction of princess daisy, who although virtually a visual twin of princess peach with colors swapped has much more personality and instead of being a maiden-in-distress is much more of a tomboy and provides a nice partner for luigi. she’s been a favorite in the various mario sports and party titles she’s appeared in, and it was nice to see her debut (albeit completely generic and characterless) in what was otherwise a fairly forgettable game.
reading back over my review it does seem unusually harsh, but i suppose this is in large part to the high standards the mario series maintains in general. fortunately the team did a much better job with the wholly enjoyable super mario land 2 (which i played and reviewed a while back). so with that one finished, i think this means i pretty much just have two more games in the main mario series to beat, which are the most recent two, new super mario bros. and mario galaxy. and i’m def. looking forward to spending more time with both.
mario land links:
– PDF of manual at replacementdocs.com
– music from the third world of mario land reworked for brawl
– a good walkthrough at gamefaqs.com
– maps at vgmaps.com
– entry at mariowiki.com
– entry at wikipedia