Liam’s Game Room #12 (Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Game Boy)

Introduction

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins was released for the Game Boy in 1992. The game was released 3 years after its prequel, the hugely successful and the Game Boy launch title Super Mario Land. This game is extremely well known for taking the formula that Super Mario Land formula but adding more length and variety and also distinct zones. This game continues the theme of the Super Mario Land series for being more story based and the story of Super Mario Land 2 actually continues the story from the first game.

Story

Whilst Mario is in Sarasaland saving Princess Daisy, his castle in Mario Land is taken over by the evil Wario and Wario brainwashes all the inhabitants of Mario Land. The motif for Wario taking over the castle is because he always wanted to have his own palace. During this attack of Mario’s castle, Wario removed the 6 Golden Coins, which grant access to the castle and spread them across 6 different areas of Mario Land. Wario then puts a curse on the door to the castle, meaning Mario has to retrieve these 6 Golden Coins to regain access to the castle and defeat Wario.

This story is really good especially for an early handheld because it leads on perfectly from the previously game and happens pretty much straight after. However, the player doesn’t need to have played the first game in the Super Mario Land to understand what is happening because the story is quite accessible. This game also introduced Wario to the Super Mario franchise and the story of this game would continue into Super Mario Land 3 where the player plays Wario. I definitely feel that the storyline in this game really showed that the player could do more than just save Princess Peach and later on in the franchise, the story was mixed up a lot more.

Gameplay

The gameplay elements of Super Mario Land 2 are somewhat similar to Super Mario Land 1, but there have been some adjustments. The first major thing is that whenever Mario runs off a platform, the gravity isn’t instantaneous like SML1, which is a huge positive as it makes the platforming feel somewhat more natural. The controls are still somewhat floaty, but some of the issues with not jumping far enough won’t happen in this game, as there are less jumps that require pin point accuracy until much later in the game.

One of the main core elements that has been drastically overhauled is the difficulty of the game. Super Mario Land 2 I found to be much easier compared to SML 1 because the difficulty curve isn’t as steep. For example, before the player can progress into the game and open up the game, the player would need to complete an introductory level, which really does a fantastic job of allowing the player to adapt to the jumping mechanics and physics that will be experienced. However, the level isn’t so easy that the player would find it a breeze, as there are some enemies which can be annoying and they are mainly on platforms that are higher up. Although, the player can just wait for these enemies to drop down from the platforms, which makes these jumps much easier.

Now I mentioned that after the introductory level, the game opens up and these is the biggest overhaul in terms of gameplay compared to SML1 and that is the player can decide what order to play the levels in across 6 zones. The unique aspect about this is that the player can complete 2 levels from one zone and get halfway through it and then can go to another zone entirely without losing progress. This is because the game takes an exit counter mechanic, which is used in Super Mario World and also takes the open world style of level choice. However, due to space limitations on the cartridge, there aren’t very many secret exits, but for what is a portable version of the Super Mario World style, it is enough to keep player looking for all the secret exits.

What these changes did was take the formula of SML1 and add a lot of new things, which both has a sense of familiarity, but also has enough new to make the experience feel both fresh and new. This alongside some graphical upgrades to Mario’s sprite and also larger sprites make the game feel completely different, although at time Mario’s sprite can seem to be too large. The other change is that 100 coins doesn’t equal an extra life, instead there is a slot machine area near the castle where the player can earn extra lives and powerups by gambling their coins. The way that the player can earn extra lives in levels is either picking up hearts inside question mark blocks or earning a star by defeating 100 enemies.

Zone By Zone Analysis

Tree Zone

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Tree Zone is the first zone going clockwise on the overworld map and is perhaps one of the easier zones in the game. The first 2 levels are quite simple levels, even though there are a few routes in this levels that lead to dead ends. Although, these dead ends initially mean that the player would have to backtrack to go the correct way, the amount of backtracking is minimal. These first 2 levels also offer quite a few powerups, meaning that the player should have any issues maintaining a powerup. Also, in level 2 there is a secret exit leading to a stage in the bottom right corner of the zone map.

The next 2 levels are interesting because the player doesn’t have to beat both of the levels, but more has a choice to decide whether to do both stages or one or the other. Completing both of them would only need to be beaten if the player is aimed to beat the game 100%. The level to the right is the easier of the two levels. but in terms of length is a much longer level. In the speedrun, the level to the left is used in the route compared to the right because there is a strategy where the player can take a shortcut, which saves a good amount of time.

Space Zone

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Space Zone is the shortest of all the zones, but introduces 2 mechanics that is unique only to this zone and that is a difference in gravity. In Level 1 the jumps that Mario makes are much more floaty and longer and Mario gains quite a bit more height, which means judging jumps can be very difficult because the player can not see the ground below. However, this means that making some jumps in this level are easy. The only problem with the reduced gravity is that the jumping can feel weird, as there is some delay between the inputs and Mario actually jumping. There is also a secret exit, which will lead Mario to a stage on the moon and the moon will frown when Mario is on his head.

The second and last level is the boss level and an autoscroller and a very long one at that. Unless the player knows what route to take it can be very easy to lose powerups and potentially a few lives until the player learns the route. The main positive about this level is that there quite a lot of coins, so the player has a chance to stock up on them and use them to try and earn extra lives. This stage is quite a lot of fun when the player knows the route and knows where all the coins are.

Macro Zone

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Macro Zone is quite an interesting zone as the style of it reminded me a lot of the Big/Little world of Super Mario 64 because the overworld has a shrunk version of Mario’s sprite. This zone is quite interesting as well because in the first level there is a secret exit, which if you beat the secret stage, will take the player straight to the boss stage. This is quite a nice secret because it in an area where the player could easily miss it if the player doesn’t find the secret route. The secret route can only be accessed by breaking two blocks that can only be broken by using a fireflower and then going up a pipe.

The rest of the Macro Zone levels are actually quite simple and offers a nice variety of both underwater sections and also some maze elements. However, the dead end sections do have some coins, which can be helpful especially if the player is running short on coins. There are also some powerups in these sections and most of them are bunny ears, which is a powerup that allows the player to glide in the air and maintain height with well timed taps of the jump button.

Pumpkin Zone

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The Pumpkin Zone is the zone with the most aesthetics and also the only zone which has two secret exits. All the levels in this zone are themed around Halloween and some of the enemies are inspired from classic horror films. Some of these enemies include a cloaked witch who whenever she opens her cape releases bats, hands on sticks that dance from side to side. The zone is one of the tougher zones as the amount of these enemies is much higher than previous zones.

The backgrounds in this zone are the most detailed of any of the zones with the walls being dark and moonlight shining through stained glass windows. There are also some jars in 2 of the stages, which are mostly empty but some of them have spiders in the jars. This adds a sense of eeriness and also scariness to the zone. The background of the zone map had a lot of headstones whilst a Magikoopa flies on a broomstick around the top left section of the zone. This zone is one of the most memorable zones because all the levels have a theme and it sticks to it very well.

Mario Zone

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Mario Zone is perhaps the weirdest out of all the zones because the zone goes through the anatomy of Mario himself and is a statue. Each level is a different part of Mario’s body with level 1 being the foot, level 2 being the heart, level 3 being the tongue and the boss level being the brain. The reason why this zone is weird and feels out of place is because the zone is a statue of the character the player is playing. Each level however, represents the area of Mario quite well and each level is uniquely designed. There is also a homage to Lego bricks in the boss level and the level is designed like a Lego design. Obviously, for copyright reasons Nintendo didn’t call them Lego bricks, but the player can clearly see that they clearly Lego bricks.

Turtle Zone

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The Turtle Zone is perhaps one of my least favourite zones because all of the levels are underwater and the problem is that the underwater mechanics are quite strange. Unlike Super Mario World where if the player presses up and swims they gain height, in SML2 this isn’t the case. Instead, the player has to gain height at the normal speed, which can make avoiding enemies extremely difficult and some of the underwater hitboxes don’t make any sense. The levels in this zone do offer some maze like elements, with some areas of the level offering multiple routes, which both lead to the exit of the level, rather than leading to dead ends like the Macro Zone.

Wario’s Castle

Wario’s Castle is the final level in the game and the difficulty curve shoots up extremely fast. There are so many enemies placed in such a way that avoiding them is sometimes almost impossible. The level is also the longest level in the entire game and the bunny ears powerup is the easiest way to get through the level. The end of the stage is split into 2 sections each with a sequence of bosses. The first room has a circle object with eyes that bounce around the room and the second and third rooms have two of these circular objects. There is then a room before Wario, which is also a 3 phase boss, so overall the player has to go through 6 phases and the longest level in the game to finally complete it.

Music

The music in SML2 is some of the best music on the Game Boy. Each zone has a theme to the music and there is quite a lot of different variety on the main themes. The Space Zone has a variation of the main athletic theme, but is much slower in tempo and has some reverb on it to create the feeling that the player is in Space. The underwater levels has specific themes to them whether it depicting the feeling of being at the beach or deep in the ocean. The boss level always has the same two themes apart from Space Zone where the area before the boss has a different theme used only in the first part of the level and nowhere else in the game.

Conclusion

Overall, this game is still really fun to play and there is quite a lot of depth and variety especially for a game so early in the Game Boy’s life span. The level variety is great and the powerups whilst not plentiful, are still enough for each of them to have a use. The music has a nice variety and the enemy variety is huge. The only downside about the game is the fact that most of the game is too easy and the final level is such a huge step up in difficulty that it is also impossible for the player to be ready.

9/10

Copyright ©2016 Liam Piper. All Images Used Under Fair Use

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