Review by darthjulian
A vast improvement over its predecessor
Granted, the first Super Mario Land might have been a huge disappointment for fans of the series due to the absence of Shigeru Miyamoto´s supervision, but that did not prevent the game from becoming a big success, probably because of it being a launch title for the Game Boy and of course because of the popularity of the Mario franchise. So logically, a sequel to part 1 was only a matter of time, and 3 years later, Nintendo delivered Super Mario Land 2, once again without Shigeru Miyamoto being involved in the development of the game. Nevertheless, this game surprisingly ended up as a big improvement over its ultimately disappointing predecessor.
And this improvement is already visible in terms of gameplay. Gone are the clunky controls that ended up being one of the biggest problems in Super Mario Land. This time around, you´ll feel like you really have full control over Mario, and even though the controls might not be as pitch perfect as in the home console Mario titles, they´re still excellent and allow you to guide Mario through the game as good as possible on the Game Boy. Another point that makes this game vastly superior to the first Super Mario Land is the sheer size of the game. Super Mario Land 1 offered only few levels so absolute experts could beat the game in a single day. However, SML2 has now 30 different stages to be found in different worlds/zones, and while it´s not quite on par with the magnitude of Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World, the amount of levels is considerable for a Game Boy game, and due to each level being quite long as well, you will certainly spend quite some quality time with SML2. "Quality time" due to the creativity the developers showcase when it comes to the basic level designs. Compared to the plain and stereotypical levels in part 1, you´ll find a lot of different and interestingly created stages, like the Turtle Zone or of course the Moon Zone, providing gamers with a lot of neat surprises and details the Mario series normally has to offer only on home consoles, and of course with a lot of well hidden bonus rooms that are fun to search for. In these levels, another creative aspect becomes pretty apparent: the variety of different costumes and powers Mario possesses now. No longer do you have to stick with normal Mario and fireball-Mario, this time you´ll also find some interesting new costumes like the astronaut suit in the moon level or the bunny-ears that allow you to float through the skies for a short while. In terms of difficulty, Super Mario Land 2 is quite demanding, but not because of the controls not being precise enough as it was the case in SML1, but because of some clever level designs and boss battles, and especially the last stage will be a treat for J&R experts.
Visually, Super Mario Land 2 is miles ahead of its predecessor and clearly ranks among the very best you could possibly see on the Game Boy. First and foremost, the Mario-sprite is no longer teenie-tiny, but rather big and very well visible, this time even with all the typical graphical details that really make him look like Mario, a fact that makes the game itself much more appealing and likable. For a GB game, Mario´s animations as well as those of the enemies are superb, but the best part about the graphics is possibly the amount of detail that went into creating the different stages and the backgrounds. Each world has its own distinct flair displayed perfectly by the visuals and emphasized with very cool and funny little details especially in the backgrounds, like the stomach of the whale in the Turtle Zone or the Haunted House-like level. Surely, this game certainly is certainly among the visually most impressive Game Boy titles, and you can clearly see how Nintendo spent the three year gap between the two Super Mario Land titles with improving the graphics considerably.
The music in Super Mario Land 2 is really nice to listen to, always fitting the themes of the different stages and most of the times being pretty funny and even sounding very well coming through the Game Boy speakers. Sure enough, the music is not as good or recognizable as the usual Mario tunes heard in the SNES and NES games, but that does not change the fact that Super Mario Land 2 fully succeeds as a Game Boy game in this regard.
So in the end, not only does Nintendo make up for the disappointing first Super Mario Land, they also deliver the proof that good and well thought Jump & Runs definitely are possible on the tiny Game Boy, and while this game here might not reach the almost unsurmountable brilliance of Super Mario Bros. 1 - 3 or Super Mario World, it´s still a worthy entry into the Super Mario family and a game no Mario fan should miss.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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