Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Separating the Game Boys from the Men: Super Mario Land

It's rare when there's a Mario game that Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto had nothing to do with and it's even rarer still when they're not absolute crap, so this game is pretty unique in that it's a Mario game Miyamoto had nothing to do with that's actually really good. Like one of the best Mario has had kinda good.

This game is in many ways very similar to Super Mario Bros 1. for the NES. It's the same platform style of gaming, Mushrooms make you big, you jump on enemies, even the basic sprites look very close to Super Mario 1, but there are a few small changes, some of which really change the game play in some significant ways. From of a story perspective this is a different Princess in this one, Princess Daisy and instead of rescuing her from Bowser you save her from an alien named Tatanga. From a game play perspective one of the small changes that made a big impact was instead of a flower giving you fireballs they give you what the game calls "superballs". These you spit down at the ground right in front of you and the ricochet off of the ground and other surfaces. You can only fire one at a time so if one is busy bouncing around you can't launch another until it hits an enemy or eventually disappears after a certain amount of time. Also they will gather up coins for you they hit which in some cases is the only way to get hard to reach coins. It might not sound like a big change but you need a bit of strategy sometimes with them you didn't with the fireball power you could just spam the hell out of. The game also has levels in which you pilot a little plane or submarine with unlimited missiles or torpedoes respectively. Both of those levels are autoscrolling, which I hate, but spamming the fire button is pretty fun.

And the biggest change is the enemies, the Goombas and piranha plants return, but other than that everything is different. There are turtle like creatures, but they're not koopa troopers, instead they have bombs for shells and if you jump on them they explode after a second or two, so obviously killing them can bite you in the ass if you're not careful. Beyond that there's killer Easter Island heads, 1950's sci-fi style robots who's heads fly off towards you, different kinds of spiders, and even Sphinxes. Lots of imaginative enemies you never really see in other Mario games.

This game is 25 years old this year, and is still a blast. If you've never played it you're really missing out. Used copies are pretty easy and cheap to find, so do yourself a favor and get it.

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