Besides Super Mario Bros. 3, the Super Mario Land series on the Nintendo Game Boy are some of my favorite Mario games. I love the 3D ones, of course, but give me one of the Game Boy Mario games and I’ll be content for hours.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins released in 1992 and was such an improvement over the already fantastic first game. The jump in quality is nothing short of stunning. Quite why I’ve taken so many years to replay it I don’t know. I’m starting to question my worth as a gamer.
As per usual Mario must run, jump and kill enemies on his quest to save that which he holds dear. Usually, this involves saving Princess Daisy or Peach from an evil villain. In Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins Mario isn’t worried about any damsels in distress. He’s worried about his castle. Quite when he got so materialistic and decadent is beyond me. It turns out that when our little plumber was away from his own private island during the events of the first game his old pal Wario has taken over his turf and stolen said castle. A castle and a private island? Our hero is doing rather well for himself. Seems that adding your name to every genre of game that comes to a Nintendo system pays pretty well. The official story also states that the inhabitants of the island have been hypnotized into thinking Mario is their enemy, which is why they attack him. This doesn’t bother Mario though, he murders them all. Is it OK to cheer for Wario this time around? I guess it’s not, I’ll have to leave that for Wario’s own adventure in the sequel.
6 Golden Coins employs all the usual Mario Tropes and mostly everything you’d expect is here. Remarkable given the system limitations. I’ve already stated that this game improves over the first one and I can’t stress that fact enough. Super Mario Land was short, controlled differently, and looked more like an old Game & Watch game. I find it odd to talk about graphics on the Game Boy, but they have improved so much in the second adventure. The game looks great, far better than any black and white handheld game deserves to look. It does suffer from some slowdown when there is too much happening at once, but, this isn’t something I’m prepared to hold against it.
We all know what to expect from a Mario game, so I will save you the long explanation here. Much like Super Mario World, the levels are accessed via an overworld and they are split into 6 different zones. One for each Golden coin. These are gained after beating each zone’s boss. All 6 are needed in order to gain access to the castle and challenge Wario.
The zones themselves are quite varied, which is nice. There’s a space zone, complete with lower gravity and Mario in a space suit. There’s the pumpkin zone, a Halloween type place complete with ghouls and ghosts. A highlight for me is the Mario zone, which is set in a giant mechanical version of Mario. I’m not sure why. judging by the story it’s probably some statue the ever great Mario has erected to lord over his denizens. The “enemies” in each of the zones fit the themes on offer. There are ants in trees, ghosts in the pumpkin and an octopus in the obligatory water levels. And anyone who complains that Nintendo only ever makes kiddie games has obviously never played a level in the Pumpkin Zone on Super Mario Land 2. There’s one enemy here that is wearing a Jason style hockey mask and has a dagger stabbed into its head. Very dark stuff for a Nintendo game.
To complete each zone Mario must earn the golden coin. To do this he must defeat a boss after completing the levels. One boss is the end game boss from the first game, which is nice especially as it means there’s one enemy we don’t have to feel bad for beating. The bosses are fun and varied. They aren’t always too challenging, but they can trip you up. My favorite, and the most challenging, Wario aside, are the pigs from the end of the Mario zone. There are 3 pigs to beat and each has different jumping patterns to try and slip you up. They offer some challenge and are pretty fun.
As usual, Mario is given a number of power-ups to help him in his journey. The normal mushroom and firepower are all here, joined by the wonderful bunny ears. These allow Mario to gently float down from the sky, making platforming much easier and helping keep those extra lives intact. Although lives aren’t much of an issue in this game. At the end of each level, there is a bell above the exit. Ring it and a bonus round is your reward. I found it very easy to earn extra lives on it. There’s also a place to gamble your coins that can earn more 1 ups. I never had a problem getting extra Marios.
For once on my retrospectives, I managed to get through the game relatively easy. I have completed it many times in the past. Too many to count in all honesty. After some of the recent things I’ve been playing, it felt great to steam through the levels with relative ease. The challenge for me this time around was trying to find the many secrets on offer. I’m sure I missed some, but I did find a number of hidden blocks and levels.
Having completed the levels and obtained all 6 golden coins I was off to banish Wario from the castle. Frankly, I was loving what he had done to the place. The number of traps, pitfalls, and enemies here must have taken some planning. Either Mario kept it this way or Wario had done a lot of preparation. Either way, it’s at this point the difficulty really increases exponentially from the rest of the game. I got through and managed to beat Wario fairly quickly, it’s just the jump in difficulty compared to the rest of the game is quite large. I enjoyed it and did wish for more levels that were as hard.
Like pretty much every Mario platform game it’s extremely easy to recommend Super Mario Land 2 to everyone. I love it now just as I did back in the day. I’d implore everyone to give it a try. If you can, grab this, the first game, and also Super Mario Land 3. I promise you that if you enjoy Mario or any platformers you will love them. Go. Relive some history and help Mario buy a planet.