A few months back I suddenly had the urge to play some Gameboy games… but sadly well, age… and missing and lack of adequate hardware. I could fix up the GBA but… So that was a bit of a mood. Well fortunately a recent Nintendo Direct has unleashed the Gameboy player on my Switch so I’ve spent a good amount of time replaying some fun old Gameboy titles, let’s review one shall we.
Super Mario Land was one of the original Gameboy games. But it was decided the Gameboy itself would be better served packaged with Tetris. What’s more that game was kind of, limited and short. Only thing of note is the invention of Daisy who wouldn’t really get any notice until Mario Tennis years later reinvented her. It’s a bit of a let down honestly. A heavily graded down Mario Bros style game for handhelds.
BUT its sequel, what it achieves on a Gameboy is frankly amazing. In fact I’d say this feels less Mario Bros game, and more Mario World.
While Mario only has 2 power ups (if you don’t count invincible stars and mushrooms) Those are your classic fire flower and to this game a super carrot which will turn you into Bunny Mario giving you rabbit ears to slow yourself down. These are honestly all you need to explore its 6 different zones. These are each themed, have multiple levels, some have hidden levels and each ends in a boss fight.
To explain the plot. This is the game that introduces Wario. The makers of the game wanted a plot that wasn’t Mario rescuing a princess so instead we have Wario having used the events of the previous Mario Land game as a distraction (thus retroactively making him the true villain of Mario Land 1) during which he could capture Mario’s Castle (which he apparently has) and hypnotize all the residents of Mario’s Kingdom to serve him. Giving the 6 coins needed to enter the castle to the 6 bosses.
During the game you will get coins but those are used to play a mini game which can be located on the world map to get additional lives. Outside of that there is no real use to them. It’s worth noting the bonus hidden levels are designed to just get you lots of coins. You can hold up to 999 of them and that’s the requirement for the highest level of the mini games.
Rather interesting is the final level, Mario’s Castle. Until the last few rooms, it’s empty. It’s just traps and pitfalls. Environmental dangers. It isn’t until the last few rooms you get any enemies at all, and they aren’t the ones you saw earlier in the game, rather just floating orbs with Wario’s face on. I suspect that has to do with the lore that the enemies were rather the hypnotized residents of the land, so Wario wouldn’t have them in the castle. The Wario battle is also quite memorable, being a 3 phase fight each phase adding a new mechanic.
For being a Gameboy game, and an original Gameboy, not colour, this game is really expansive. 6 worlds, hidden levels, multiple power ups and a multiphase boss! Yeah, this is worth your time. Plus, the standard Gameboy player is included in the regular Nintendo Switch online so it’s really easy to play now. Still there are those games I specifically had a want to play awhile back, and I saw they were coming to it soon.