Written by Paul Monopoli
The Super Mario Land series stand out from the rest of the Mario games. Firstly they don’t take place in the Mushroom Kingdom & I’m not sure how it’s supposed to fit into the main series, but Wario & Princess Daisy (both introduced in this series) have both become mainstream Nintendo characters with Wario even being given his own series of games. Daisy is more of a supporting player these days, showing up in the Mario Kart & Mario Party games.
The storyline for Mario Land 2 doesn’t really fit into the main series either, but follows on from Mario Land 1. The story goes: After the events of Super Mario Land, Mario returned to his castle to find that Wario had taken it over & scattered the 6 Golden Coins across “Mario Land”… yes even the “Land” is named after him, it’s not just the name of the game. It seems in this parallel universe Mario has a bit of an ego problem & even has his own castle. Poor Luigi is nowhere to be seen & in fact probably distanced himself from his “sell out” brother… castle indeed… Anyway, the coins are like a key & all 6 of them must be recovered before you can get in the castle & take out Wario.
The manual points out the Mario & Wario have known each other since they were kids. I don’t know where Waluigi fits into this… maybe the Wario & Waluigi from the other games are from the main Mario Universe, & not this bizarre parallel world… I say create your own “canon”.
Now, one thing I want to ask all those Super Mario Bros 2 haters is this: Why don’t you hate the Mario Land games as well? & if you do, why don’t you harp on about it like you do with SMB2? The games don’t take place in the Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser isn’t the main enemy, & they’re very different. Feel free to leave me an reply or 2, because I really want to know the answer to this one.
Anyway, enough background. On to the game.
Unlike the original Super Mario World this game features 3 save slots. Just jump down the pipe of the slot you want to use. To erase a game get Mario to jump up at the “CLEAR” box which will turn him into Bomb Mario. Go down the pipe of the game you want to erase & BANG it’s gone. Bomb Mario would have been great to have ingame, but sadly he’s only used on this screen.
The first thing you’ll notice about Super Mario Land 2 is that the overworld, which features in just about every Mario game since Mario Bros 3. The main Mario sprite is modelled on the Super Mario World sprite in the best way the Gameboy can manage, & they do a good job of it. Goombas, Koopas, Boos, Bullet Bills & Buzzy Beetles all show up from the main series, though most of the enemies are specific to the Zone that they’re in. There are 6 Zones in the game:
– Tree Zone: Takes place in a tree obviously
– Macro Zone: You’re shrunk inside a house so everything is bigger than you
– Mario Zone: This one has you playing through a giant Mario made of Lego
– Pumpkin Zone: A spooky Halloween-type zone
– Turtle Zone: The obligatory underwater levels
– Space Zone: A low gravity world
The Zones can be done in any order, though the Space Zone requires you to play through a level with hippos that blow bubbles before you can reach it… Weird I know… Each Zone has at least 1 hidden level, & a boss.
The hidden levels are quite easy to find, but apart from providing a shortcut to the boss (in the Macro Zone) there’s no real incentive to find them. It’s not like Super Mario World where one hidden level can lead to a string of them & then a whole hidden world. I guess we were spoiled with Mario World & Mario Land 2 just doesn’t feel as good. I guess it’s a bit of a harsh criticism considering the SNES is a 16-bit system & the Gameboy uses a modified Z80 processor which, keep in mind the Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum had been using for years. With that in mind the game does tend to slow down when a lot of action is happening on the screen.
The controls feel slightly more wooden than Mario World, but this still feels very much like a Mario game & of course, that’s a good thing. The one criticism that I have is with the spin jump. On the SNES you have 6 buttons to use, so a spin jump is easy to pull off with one of those buttons. With Mario Land 2 you have to hold down on the controller, which just doesn’t sit right with me. It probably would have been better to leave the spin jump out altogether.
The music & sound effects are very “non Mario”. Audio wise there isn’t anything that jumps out & says “This is a Mario game”, but it does the job. I didn’t think the music was anything special to be perfectly honest, whether it sounded like Mario music or not.
I can’t do a review of a Mario game without mentioning the powerups. In Mario Land 2 we have:
– Super Mario: Get the magic mushroom & you become Super Mario. Pretty standard
– Fire Mario: Get the fire flower & you can shoot fireballs. Fire Mario has what appears to be a feather in his cap to distinguish himself from Super Mario
– Bunny Ear Mario: The new ability that allows you to jump higher & glide down slower
– Starman: Good old invincibility
– Heart: Takes the place of a green Mushroom & give you 1-Up
– Money bag: Gives you 50 coins to spend…
… That’s right: to spend. In Mario Land 2 getting 100 coins does not grant an extra life like it does in the other games. There is a cave near the start of the game that allows you to spend your coins for powerups & lives. The coins are used in a slot machine & there are 4 to choose from. They can cost either: 30 coins, 50 coins, 200 coins or 999 coins. The more you spend the better the prizes are likely to be. The problem here is that the game is so easy, there’s no real incentive to collect coins & money bags to buy more lives.
At the end of each level above the exit is a bell. If you can get Mario to reach the bell before the exit he will be taken to a bonus level where he can obtain either a power up or up to 3 lives. Keep in mind the power up you get will override the one you already have, so if you’re happy with your fireflower or bunny ears it would be best to steer clear of this, because a mushroom WILL turn you back into Super Mario.
The level design is excellent. In Mario Bros 3 & Mario World most of the time players would try to get the flying powerup, as most of the secrets in the game would be overhead. In Mario Land 2, you NEED the fireflower to obtain probably about 50% of the secrets, so if you have the ears, you may need to replay the level again with the fireflower to unlock the secret.
bosses are VERY easy to beat, with simple patterns & the need to only jump on their heads 3 times. Tatanga, the final boss from Super Mario Land 1 makes a reappearance as the boss in the Space Zone.
The main criticism with this game is that it’s very short with 4-5 levels max per Zone before the final confrontation with Wario. As mentioned earlier, it’s also very easy to complete & can be finished in an afternoon. This doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s very fun to play though, but it isn’t going to last you long.
It’s nowhere near as epic as Mario World & it was never going to be, let’s be honest here. Mario Land 2 is still a solid game, but it’s too short & too easy. At the time of its release it impressed a lot of people who felt the Gameboy would never be able to pull off a game like this. Bunny Ear Mario even made the cover of the first Australian Nintendo Magazine System.
I’ve given this game a lot of criticism, but overall I did enjoy it for what it was. I’m giving it 82%. There’s no incentive to unlock hidden levels & it’s too easy & short, but it’s a Mario game & it IS fun.
Now back to arguing with the rest of the Retrospekt team over who’s going to review Super Mario World…