Retro Respawn – Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

It’s been a while, hasn’t it, folks? I can’t promise you all that this will be a regular return to me writing about them there video games here on GR, but I’ve finally found the time to actually sit down and properly play one after some commotion in my real life, so I thought I’d write about it, if that’s alright with you? I’m not ill or anything, by the way, I’ve just had issues with my home and have been crashing in places where it hasn’t been convenient to sit down and play some games. However, thanks to my Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Online Membership, you’re speaking to the proud completer of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on the Game Boy, so let’s have a chat about it!

I had played Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins back in the day on an actual Game Boy as one of my friends had the game, and I remember enjoying it at the time. It’s certainly a very ambitious game for a handheld console, and it tries more things than the first Super Mario Land on the Game Boy did. Whilst Super Mario Land resembled Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System, in that you just tackled the levels one after the other in a linear fashion, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is clearly more inspired by the likes of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, where the pugnacious plumber is dropped into a world map and then has to select the levels that way, meaning that there isn’t always a set way to advance.

Considering the memory limitations of the Game Boy console and cartridges, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins does an admirable job of recreating that Super Mario World feel, with nice, big sprites giving the game some much appreciated character and the game world having a genuine feeling of size to it. In a nice touch, you can tackle each of the six worlds out of order as well, which I found out completely by accident as I was just walking around the map and ended up in one of the worlds that I wasn’t expecting to see until later on.

The story of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is that you need to find the titular six coins in order to enter Wario’s (formerly Mario’s) castle and take him down, with this being the first game in the Mario series to feature Wario as one of the main characters. Wario does make an impression early on you when you see him at the game’s conclusion, and it’s no surprise that Nintendo decided to keep him around once the game was over. The last level of the game sees you working your way through the fiendish traps within Wario’s castle, and it gets genuinely harrowing at points, especially as it’s quite a spike in difficulty in comparison to the rest of the game up to that point.

The six worlds you visit include an underwater one where you have to climb into a whale’s mouth at one stage and avoid its teeth and tonsils to reach the end, a space world where low gravity allows you to perform some impressive jumps whilst wearing a spacesuit, which is an inventive way to mix things up and a precursor to the Galaxy series of Mario games, and a rather quite creepy Mario-themed world where you have to climb to the top of a cursed looking animatronic Mario doll. As with the first game in the series, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins was developed by a different team to the mainline Mario games, and as a result, the game isn’t afraid to tread away from the beaten path when it comes to mixing things up and presenting a completely different feeling Mario game.

This becomes obvious when it comes to the power-ups available as the Super Mushroom and Fire Flower are both present, but so too is a carrot that will cause Mario to sprout rabbit ears that he can then use to glide across the stage. As in Super Mario Land, the Fire Flower works a bit differently in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, with Mario getting a nice feather in his cap when he collects it, although he will now throw the more traditional fireballs rather than bouncing balls at his opponents. One-ups also appear as hearts again as it’s too tricky to differentiate between different kinds of mushrooms due to Game Boy games not being in colour when Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins was released. I enjoyed the power-ups, and I’d like it if the rabbit ears came back at some stage, and they all look very nice on-screen, with more big sprites making them look a lot more like the ones you would find on a home console.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is not without its issues as some of the baddies can range from being a bit generic to being a bit too weird sometimes, to the point that it almost stops feeling like a Mario game now and then. I also found the hit detection to be a bit exaggerated too as I’d feel like I dodged an enemy or a hazard, only to take damage anyway. Mario will freeze at the end of levels sometimes as well, which can leave him open to an enemy attack. This can be especially annoying when taking on a boss, such as the big bad of the water world, as he spits little enemies at you, and if you happen to kill him and they are still on-screen, they can hurt Mario whilst he freezes and possibly cost him a life in the process.

Overall though, these are minor gripes, and I found Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins to be a solid trip down Mario Lane. Certainly for a handheld game on the original Game Boy, you get a lot of bang for your buck from Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, with the game making the most of the hardware to give you the most fun it possibly can. Wario is a great antagonist, the world has real character, the power-ups are a lot of fun and there’s enough to do that you’ll feel like you got a full Mario outing and not just a quick handheld distraction. If you’ve got a Switch with the Online Membership, then this game will make you feel like you’re getting the most out of your investment!

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