Super Mario Land

released on Apr 21, 1989

Super Mario Land is the first Mario's outing on the Game Boy. It is a side-scrolling platformer much in the vein of the previous Super Mario Bros. This time, Mario must save Princess Daisy, rather than Princess Toadstool, from her kidnapper Tatanga, a mysterious spaceman. The game follows largely the same formula of its aforementioned predecessor, with Mario defeating enemies by jumping on them and collecting coins and power ups by hitting floating blocks, with each world leading up to a boss fight which is defeated using by collapsing the floor. A unique feature of this instalment is two scrolling shoot-'em-up levels, the first of which Mario pilots a submarine, and the second an aeroplane.

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~ 3DS Homebrew Journey - Game 11 ~
The whole reason as to why I started playing this old-fart of a game in the first place was thanks to AutomaticPause’s video “Wario Land Series Retrospective” (2022), which is a very enjoyable 3h+ in-depth video about pretty much everything revolving our favorite nose-picking, motorcycle riding, chunky Mario wannabe — Wario, and his Wario Land series. So what does Wario have to do with Super Mario Land one might ask? Well, the third instalment in the series was weirdly named: Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (1994). This makes it the third instalment of the Super Mario Land series but also the first of the brand new Wario Land series. As someone who has recently been playing a lot of WarioWare have I grown to really like the guy. I wanted to give Wario Land a shot, but also Super Mario Land. So instead of just jumping into the third Mario Land, I thought I’d start from the top with Super Mario Land(1989)
I heard people talking about platforming being floaty. What. Are. They. Talking. Bout. ? I mean, a little float, but it’s barely noticeable. I guess I was too busy being mesmerised by the soundtrack. Which evolved into this. Thanks @lasagnaloverleo for bringing it to my attention. Aside from those bangers, when receiving a star power-up you don’t get the iconic Star Theme but instead this, which I think is a sample from the classical masterpiece Infernal Galop, which is odd but fun. It took me less time to beat the game than to write this review, so not much bang for the buck if one bought the game back when it was released. It has some simple yet somewhat challenging platforming with no Mega Man bullshit platforming. It strikes a good balance, including its world themes. The auto-sidescrolling plane sections are great and a good way to implement some variety — something most other 2D Mario games lack. The final boss being a plane section was also a really good way to end things. It sure isn’t the prettiest game but it gets the job done and then some. The zoomed-out view making everything look a little smaller may make for some more challenging platforming, as it is harder to see but it also gives the game a picturesque and unique feel, unlike any other 2D Mario.

Mario Land is a short but sweet game, that manages to hold a strong sense of individuality thanks to unique themes, enemies and bosses; which are always welcome in the ever so repetitive Mario franchise. With this being the first Mario game on the Gameboy system it's clear that Nintendo were still getting a feel of how to best utilize the console to the best of it's ability. Consequently the main drawbacks of this game are it's unnatural feeling physics and questionable artstyle, however I feel that the core gameplay is not significantly held back by this, leaving an overall enjoyable experience that holds up decently today.

Playing Super Mario Land in 2023 is such a breath of fresh air for 2D Mario. Love the unique level designs, especially the shoot em up levels, wish we got more of these in future 2D Mario titles. Only thing I wasn't a huge fan of was the lack of momentum when controlling Mario.

For a first Mario game, it's still quite decent. Mario's moves are a bit stiff and it certainly doesn't play like the other 2D episodes. The shoot'em up levels were a welcome addition. Overall, the game is way too easy and short for its own good. But it's not a bad game by any means.