When growing up, I wasn’t just set to one brand and their allegiance. As I’ve said in previous ‘Past’s, I’ve had a Game Boy and a Mega Drive, so at a young age I was shown nearly aspects of what games from Nintendo and Sega were being released.
With Mario, some in my time discovered him through the Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64, whereas some discovered him through Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo.
Having a Game Boy, I was introduced to it by Super Mario Land 2, a fully featured Mario game for the handheld space.
I received the game when the Game Boy arrived in the Christmas of 1995, where I was introduced to Mario and the power ups that he is known for.
I was recently home in Lincoln, and going to the attic, I found the black case where all the game boy games of past were, along with my original Game Boy. A wave of nostalgia hit me suddenly, and slotting the cartridge in, hearing the start up sound, and even seeing the save that I’d left for 17 years was still working, I felt as if I’d suddenly gone back to 1996. Which is why, this month could only be for Mario Land 2.
When you begin the game, you’re brought to a world map. Instead of a ‘World 1’ and the continuous linear path introduced in Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, here you can choose how to go about finishing the game. If you want to start at the tree world first, then you can. Or the haunted world? Why not. It was a new feature I never knew of that suddenly seemed obvious to me. Before this game, it was only Sonic 3 as a platformer. Crash Bandicoot and Pandemonium was yet to be released, so why couldn’t I choose my own path to finish the game? It was a great feature, and to my knowledge, the only game since in a Mario game that has given this choice to the player.
The simple story is about Mario being kicked out of the castle by Wario, in his first appearance, and Mario now has to collect six coins to gain back access to the castle.
But I’m not aware of anyone who plays a Mario game only for the story.
There’s six ‘zones’ which you can access from the start, which are:
There are up to six stages in each zone, with a boss at the end that relates to the zone. There’s also hidden paths that reveal new levels.
The power ups are the same as the console equivalent, with the mushroom, fireball and star power ups all present. Instead of a cape or tail, it’s a rabbit, which allows Mario to float and glide. The only downside to this, is that with repeated pressing of the ‘A’ button will cause Mario to not lose any height, and can easily glide through the level if the player wished.
Once the six coins have been collected, the final stage is the castle, where a final confrontation with Wario awaits.
As it was released in 1992, the classic monochrome exists throughout, so instead of the bright, vibrant colours that is present throughout the Mario games is absent, but instead the animations and the charm of the series mostly replaces that. There were plans for a ‘DX version’ of Mario Land 2, which would have given the game a full colour remake, similar to Links Awakening, but it was unfortunately cancelled. A little known fact, is that in every Game Boy Color, there was a small set of stored routines that would place correct colours in certain games, and this was one of them. For example, the mushroom power up is red in the right places, while the tree world has correct placements of green and yellow.
This also had the save system, where it would automatically save whenever you would complete a level. You had three save slots, and by pressing select, an ‘Easy Mode’ would be enabled, although the final stage of the castle is the only stage where major differences in its difficulty are noticed.
I remember constantly playing the game, but also wondering what game came before this, as it does have ‘2’ in the name. The first game is more reminiscent of the first Mario Bros. game, with no save points and the difficulty significantly ramped up.
Since then I’d discover Mario on other consoles such as the N64 with Super Mario 64, then Super Nintendo with Super Mario All Stars.
Overall, it was the game that brought platformers on a mobile device into the mainstream. Even though a Mario game came before it, this was the game where innovations such as battery saving, plus power ups and designs in line with the games of the console variety made it accessible to players of Mario games before.
It’s a game that brings me a great deal of nostalgia everytime I discover it, but it also shows me how Nintendo have been able to keep the standard of Mario games so high in the past 25 years. Whereas with Sega and Sonic, there’s been many misfires, such as Sonic 06, and mobile efforts of their console counterparts such as Sonic Generations and Sonic Lost World.
But it does seem to be improving, with the remasters of Sonic 1 and 2 for mobile devices last year, with the rumoured Sonic 3 and Knuckles to follow sometime this year.
In the meantime, if you want to see how Mario solidified his presence on the mobile platforms after conquering the consoles, Super Mario Land 2 would be a fantastic start to choose from.