Virtual Console Release: USA Jun 6, 2011 / EUR Jun 7, 2011, JPN Jun 7, 2011, AUS Jun 7, 2011
Original Release: USA Jul 23, 1989 / EUR Sep 28, 1990, JPN Apr 21, 1989
Rated: E for Everyone
It's strange. When Nintendo was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. series in 2010, Super Mario Land was left out. It didn't even get a passing mention in the booklet that came with the limited edition of Super Mario All-Stars. New Super Mario Bros. on the DS was recognized as part of the Super Mario series. Why wasn't this game? Surely the Big N didn't forget Super Mario Land existed. The fact that it's on the 3DS Virtual Console is proof enough that Nintendo couldn't have forgotten about this game. While it may not be as long as Mario's bigger brothers or his DS outing that would come years later, it's still not a bad way to kill a bit of time or $3.99 burning a hole in your pocket.
|Cripes, that is one big spider! Seriously, would|
you want to stomp on that thing?
Pauline, Princess Peach; Mario seems to have a thing for women that get kidnapped. We can add Daisy to the list of damsels in distress because Super Mario Land's plot is all about saving Luigi's future girlfriend. Daisy isn't abducted by an monstrous turtle or a rampaging gorilla but an alien named Tatanga, who prefers to duel in a battleship. This guy has his own flying weapon and the best he can do is kidnap chicks? Granted, said battleship is a glorified peashooter, but still.
Super Mario Land plays like a more primitive version of the first Super Mario Bros. Run to the right, collect coins, stomp enemies all in an effort to reach the stage goal. Like the first Super Mario Bros., your range of power-ups are extremely limited, consisting of only the Super Mushroom, Starman, and a Flower, which does not work like the standard Fire Flower from all the other Super Mario Bros. games. Picking up a Flower in Super Mario Land allows Mario to use the Superball, an object that will bounce off the walls for a limited time.
|All this sea-life Mario is killing and|
not a peep outta PETA.
While Super Mario Land may seem like a condensed version of the original Super Mario Bros., there are many key differences. You'll see some familiar faces, but the selection of enemies is vastly different from the ones seen in console games. What looks to be normal Koopa Troopas are actually Bombshell Koopas. After you stomp on these guys, they explode. The worlds are also very unique. The few water levels in the game are auto-scrolling, placing Mario in an armed submarine and play out like a shoot 'em up. Birabuto Kingdom is probably the most Egyptian any Mario game has ever gotten, loaded with hieroglyphics and killer sphinx enemies.
What is probably Super Mario Land's best feature is it's soundtrack. This may be an early Game Boy title, but Super Mario Land still serves up some insanely catchy tunes. The main Overworld Theme, Underground Theme, Muda Kingdom, Chai Kingdom and Ending Theme are easily some of the greatest pieces of music to come out Mario's long history. Unfortunately, Super Mario Land doesn't look too hot as it is an early Game Boy game. Since the game was design on a handheld platform, some enemies (Goombos) are pretty tiny and the overall backgrounds look plain. Still, you never have a hard time telling what's what so the visuals do a serviceable job.
|This foe looks like an arrogant kung fu|
guy, but it's really just a Pionpi.
|Sections like this actually have you sweating a bit.|
It is worth noting that Super Mario Land was not developed by Mario creator and video game legend Shigeru Miyamato. Maybe that's why the game was not include in the 25th anniversary celebration of Super Mario Bros. Yeah, Super Mario Land may play differently from many other games in the Super Mario series, but it really isn't a bad game by any means. The game did sell over 18 million copies, after all. It certainly isn't Mario's best handheld quest, but it isn't one that should be dismissed either. The platforming is solid and the shoot 'em up stages help spice things up. At four worlds each comprising of 3 stages, the game is on the short side, but at $3.99, the price is just right.