You may have owned this game, or knew someone that owned it and you wanted to play it so bad. I was one of those kids.
My cousin had this game, he played the crap out of it and I remember being transfixed with it. He’d sit there and I’d peer over his shoulder, watching him play for hours. When he finished the game, I asked if I could borrow it, he reluctantly said yes and handed it over. The next week I played and played and played until I’d beaten the game. I never did own it until it was released on the 3DS Virtual Console. I recently played the game in it’s entirety one Sunday afternoon and was transported back to those early days of my gaming youth. But the whole time I was playing, I noticed how odd and different it was compared to all of Mario’s previous (and newer) outings. I’d never thought about it when I was a kid, looking back, and I didn’t care. But now? Oh man…what a strange game.
Super Mario Land 2: The 6 Golden Coins is a Game Boy game that came out in 1992/1993 and it’s a sequel to the original Super Mario Land that came out a few years earlier. Super Mario Land was such a strange way to portray Mario on his first handheld outing, with little to do with what we already knew about Mario. Some levels were in a submarine or an ancient Egyptian pyramid, then changed to something totally different. It still followed the Mario gameplay, you’d run and jump and do the normal platforming stuff but apart from that, it never truly felt like Mario. It’s not surprising to learn that Miyamoto wasn’t involved in the development in either game.
What makes Super Mario Land 2 so odd? It’s not your usual Mario game at all and there’s a lot that when I replayed it recently, made me scratch my head. That’s not to say I hate or dislike the game, I love it. But my problem with it is that it’s just so far away from what we know of Mario that it’s an anomaly in the Mario Universe.
So, what to begin with first? Why not start with the levels? Firsty, there’s no linearity in how you decide to go about beating the game. With 6 worlds (matching the 6 Golden Coins! Crazy right?) to choose from in no order, it feels a little like Super Mario World. But even still SMW had divergences from the main path, to keep things interesting. 6GC was strange in that there was an overworld and there were the 6 worlds inside, each with their own themes, enemies and more. You had one world where you were in a giant robotic Mario, then another on the goddamn moon! WITH MARIO IN A SPACE SUIT! Then you got a tree world, pumpkin zone, a turtle zone and then the macro zone where you became REALLY small.
The interesting thing with the levels too, is that in pretty much every one, a new concept or idea is brought into the fold, usually just for the one level. Maybe for one level there’s spinning gears? Or flying owls that help you traverse huge gaps? It’s the little things that kept surprising me in this game. Even when you end a level, if you can reach the bell, you get sent to a bonus level to get more hearts or even a power up in the form of a crane game or switch game.
Now the enemies, what was up with that? Mario has the standard fare, with Goombas, Koopas, Hammer Bros and the like, but this has skull dudes, witches, and ants. ANTS FOR GOD’S SAKE! WHAT MARIO GAME HAS ANTS AS AN ENEMY? WHAT WAS NINTENDO SMOKING? Each enemy fit into the theming of the zone too, so the ants only appeared in the Tree Zone and Macro Zone, whereas the spooky witches appeared in the Pumpkin Zone. It makes sense in the zones that they’re in but in the grand scheme of Mario, it’s super weird.
The power ups aren’t odd at all, you got the mushroom like usual, the fire flower like usual, but then you got…a carrot? That gives you rabbit ears that make you float? What the hell? The carrot, as far as I know, has never appeared in any way shape or form in any other Mario game since. It adds to the oddity of the game. You could also get an abundance of 1-UP’s in the form of hearts, not the usual mushroom.
But for all that’s odd about this game and may have never been used again in any subsequent games, it did introduce one mainstay. Wario. We all know and love Wario now as a somewhat bumbling, money-grabbing and treasure-hoarding buffoon, but in this game he’s a crazed lunatic, hell bent of making sure Mario never gets back his castle (Mario has his own castle now?). I remember the first time playing the game and getting to Wario and he freaked the hell out of me, nothing like how he is today. It’s interesting that they kept Wario on, yet nothing else. Strange.
But this whole game is strange, in terms of Mario. I’m not sure if anyone else has played it, but if you haven’t played it, I suggest you do. It’s quirky, different and it stands out as the an oddity in the world of Mario. Have you played the game at all? Do you think it’s a weird game now than when you first played it? Share your thoughts below!