Review by discoinferno84

Reviewed: 08/04/04

Mario kicks back...

Let’s flash back to the early 1990s. The Gameboy was becoming the most dominant handheld in the industry, with the Nintendo powerhouse backing it up. With one Mario game down, what did Nintendo have in store for the Gameboy series? Taking into account of all the flaws of their first attempt, the game developers decided to take Mario in another direction, and add a few unique twists to its budding series. Thus Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins jumped into the fray of countless other games released in the Gameboy’s heyday. Thankfully, this new Mario game still holds its own among the oldies.

If there’s one thing that Mario has going for him, it’s his ability to multitask. I mean, the guy supposedly has all of these mad plumbing skills that are never fully utilized, along with golfing, tennis, driving, and superhuman jumping and stomping powers. And despite all of this technical ability, his real calling always seemed to be saving princesses back in the early days. What a waste of talent. Thankfully, the folks over at Nintendo recognized that the whole “saving the princess” plot was getting just a tad old. Instead of sticking to the tried and true rehashed plot, this game takes a whole new spin on what many gamers were accustomed to. While Mario was ditching the Mushroom Kingdom for a certain brunette Daisy lookalike, a new villain came into town. No, it’s not Bowser or any of his deformed children. A greedy son of a gun named Wario has usurped the throne of the Mushroom Kingdom and has taken complete control over Mario’s castle. This guy has the utter lack of class to steal all of Mario’s possessions while he isn’t looking. It’s up to Mario to save the Mushroom Kingdom from this new threat and take back what’s rightfully his! And this time, it’s personal.

Just one problem, though. Wario may be one greedy maniac, but he’s not stupid. Instead of meeting our hero face to face, this evil wannabe has added some extra security features to Mario’s castle. No, there’s nothing as pathetic security cameras or laser sensors. Wario has installed one industrial strength lock onto the only entrance to the castle. The only way to get this door unlocked is by collecting six golden coins from the various regions of the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario must travel far and wide and seek out these relic and return them to their respective places on the castle door. And once the door is finally unlocked, you’ll finally get a chance to take the back the castle and teach Wario what it really means to be the Mushroom Kingdom’s saviour.

But before you get a chance to stomp Wario’s remarkably large arse, you still have to go through the process of collecting the mystical coins. The Mushroom Kingdom is separated into six distinct zones, each with their own collection of levels, a distinct theme and enemies. You’ve got the Pumpkin Zone, with its little Goombas wearing scary masks. There’s the Space Zone, with Mario donning a spacesuit and moonwalking over everything that gets in his way. You get the idea. Despite all of these variations on the levels, the basic Mario premise remains the same: jumping on platforms and stomping enemies. All you have to do is make it from one end of the level to the other, take on a few bosses, and you’ll be just fine. The problem is that even though you’re going through all the strange and wonderful levels, it starts to get old pretty quickly. Sure, there’s so much novelty in seeing a Goomba wearing a hockey mask, but the basic design of the levels won’t leave you on the edge of your seat.

Of course, Nintendo just had to add in a few new surprises to keep us intrigued , like a few minigames and some new power ups. You can use the coins you’ve collected and wager them for power ups and extra lives periodically throughout the game. All of the old power ups are still lying around for your Koopa-stomping pleasure. You’ve got your standard stars and mushrooms…But wait, what’s this? A carrot? This is the only time in recent memory that Mario has ever donned a pair of bunny ears for a power up. But hey, this game is wildly different from its predecessors, so maybe we can give Mario’s newfound vegetarian lifestyle a chance.

But the new stuff doesn’t end with zones and power ups. In an admirable jump in presentation, Super Mario Land 2’s graphics and sound are vastly superior to its predecessor. You can actually see Mario now, not just some little speck on your screen. All of the levels and enemies are portrayed with an impressive amount of detail, considering the Gameboy’s graphical capabilities. You can see the starry night skies of the Space Zone or the Wario’s evil lurking figure standing atop the castle’s walls. Thankfully, the sound has also been revamped with sound effects that have relative clarity. Even the soundtrack has been remixed and has a few new tunes to balance out the level music. This game is a testament to the Gameboy’s capabilities as well as Nintendo’s ability to create something that exceeds the day’s standard.

If there’s only one thing missing from this unique Mario game, it’s difficulty. This game will last the average gamer an hour or so at best. Even though the game designers basically improved on everything from Super Mario Land, this game is still a breeze to finish. Since most of the levels are designed to exclude any real technique or tricky button timing, you’ll be sleepwalking your way through the various zones. And once you’ve gone through all the levels and defeated Wario, what’s left for you to do? Absolutely nothing. Sure, you can try and beat this game again…and again. But you just won’t be getting that same interest and satisfaction that you got the first time through.

Super Mario Land 2 is one strange little game. It’s got your basic Mario gameplay formula blended with new characters, gameplay concepts, and plenty of other ideas. It’s one of the few games on the original Gameboy that have truly excellent graphics and sound. Too bad that this game has almost no difficulty and won’t be very daunting for the average gamer. But for all of you Mario fans out there, Super Mario Land 2 shines like a beacon through the fog of forgotten and discarded Gameboy games of old. If you want something easy and fun to kill so time, have a look.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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