Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins
System: Game Boy
Released: November 1992
Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins is the sequel to the original Super Mario Land released in 1989 on Nintendo's Game Boy. The sequel features beefed up graphics and 32 levels of play, spread out over 6 zones. Super Mario Land 2 also introduced Wario to the Mario cannon. It also introduced the Carrot power up which has been under utilized since.
Super Mario Land 2 plays similiar to Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo. In the main world map, Mario Land, you can travel 2 six different zones and tackle them in any order you choose.
Tree Zone has 5 levels starting with an outdoor level, and then has Mario working his way up and through the tree. Hippo/Space zone starts off with you floating around in a soap bubble from a bathing hippo to reach Space Zone. The first space level mimics walking on the moon with slow movement and high jumps due to the low gravity. In the second level, you fly through the space by tapping the action button. In Micro Zone (or Macro zone), Mario is tiny and everything else is huge. You start off outside with huge insects, and then make your way into, and through the house in 4 levels.
Pumpkin Zone features 4 levels through dark forests and other spooky themes. Mario Zone, features 4 levels through a giant toy Mario. The first level revolves around gears, the second around bubbles, the third around elevators, and the last around lego blocks. Turtle Zone features 3 levels, the first featuring outdoor environments as well as water. Then you journey through a submarine. Last, you make your way through a giant whale.
Each zone also features 1 or 2 extra levels that can be found by locating secret doorways through the standard levels. These are not required to complete the game, but usually offer plenty of coins and other bonuses. The final level is through Wario's castle, leading to the final showdown with Wario.
The level design in Super Mario Land 2 is outstanding. As noted above,there is a ton of variety between the different zones and levels within those zones. I have played through this title at least half a dozen times in the last 15 years and will continue to do so in the future. Romping around through these levels is a blast. How many games let you play through a giant whale... while gliding through the air with rabbit ears... from eating a carrot? Truly unique stuff.
Graphically speaking, Mario Land 2 looks quite good despite being limited to 4 colors. The levels do a good job of mixing up the background colors so every level doesn't have the same white background. All of the eye candy does hurt Mario Land 2 though, virtually every stage features slowdown when there is too much going on the screen at once. Still, this is one of the better looking Game Boy games I have played and holds up well 17 years later.
The music in Mario Land 2 is great as well, featuring a great variety with the quality on par of most Nintendo 8-bit games. While the various tracks repeat occasionally, you will never hear the same track back to back. All of the other sounds are classic Mario. Collection coins, going through tubes, swimming, and bouncing off enemies sounds as good as it ever did back in the nineties.
Super Mario Land 2 plays much like any other two dimensional Mario game. The B can be used to throw fireballs and holding it will allow Mario to run faster. The A button is used to jump. Holding it will allow Mario to glide if equipped with a carrot, that turns Mario into Rabbit Mario. The Starman item is also present, which gives Mario a brief moment of invincibility. Like all Mario games, the control in Super Mario Land 2 is very smooth and responsive.
Unlike traditional Mario games, you can collect up to 999 coins, and they don't reset after completing a level. In Mario Land is a slot machine mini game in which you can spend you money and have a turn on the slot machine to win items (Super Mushroom, Carrot, and Fire Flower), coins, or lives. Additionally, the game keeps track of how many enemies you destroy. Again, the counter does not reset after completing a level. After destroying 100 enemies, the counter resets and a Starman comes down from the sky.
At the end of each level, there is another mini game giving you the opportunity to get and item or an additional life. Once you get the timing down, you can pretty much guarantee you will receive 3 additional lives after completing a level.
One of my few gripes with Mario Land 2 is the lack of difficulty. After beating the game, I still had 54 extra lives remaining. 54! Unless you are an extreme beginner, it would be very tough to see a game over screen. Even more strange is that there is an easy mode that makes it even easier. However, there is some challenge in finding all of the different hidden special stages scattered through all of the zones.
Overall, Super Mario Land 2 is one of my favorite platforming games of all time. Despite the limited color palette of the original Game Boy, the levels still somehow seem vibrant and interesting. Despite the lack of difficulty, there is still plenty of replay value to be had in going through and finding all of the little secret nooks and crannies. A top notch sound track and silky smooth controls round off what I find to be a timeless classic.
Graphics - 9/10 Lots of detail at the expense of slow down
Sound - 8/10 Classic Mario
Game play - 9/10 Tons of variety, smooth controls
Overall - 9/10 Excellent platformer, even compared to the console games