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they put him on a Land, they put him in a World, now….they’re gonna put him on a Land.…again!
Super Mario Land 2 is this odd middle ground in ways. this game is trying to be more of a traditional Mario game like Super Mario World with the overworld and minigames, but at the same time it’s still going for its own unique identity like Super Mario Land was. I appreciate that they didn’t go with the usual “princess gets kidnapped” for the story this time as instead you’re going to Mario Land to retrieve Mario’s castle back from Wario who took over while he was rescuing Daisy back at Sarasaland.
why does Mario live around here anyway, what a weird place to put your castle in. there’s a random house that shrinks Mario to micro size, a giant pumpkin with a forest full of yokai and witches, a turtle that eats Mario and sends him underwater where he ventures inside of a whale, a giant mechanical Mario statue which implies that Mario has servants or followers that built him a big old Mario, a hippo that snorts bubbles that sends Mario to space filled with angry stars that hurt you instead of turning you invincible, and at the end of the place you even fight Tatanga who was the final boss of the first Mario Land. the only relatively normal zone out here is the tree one but even then you end up going inside a giant beehive and facing a boss at the end that’s literally called “Big Bird”. oh right there’s also a cave that houses a random casino, Mario enjoys gambling??? well Luigi does own and run a casino later on in the franchise so it probably runs in the family. all this raises a question though: was Mario Land always like this before Wario arrived, or did Wario really stink up the place that much? I need more lore on this supposed Mario Land. what’s Mario’s daily routine here? where did he get the space suit for the Space Zone? how much money does he spend on gambling per night? why are the Three Little Piggies inside the Mario?
eventually Mario collects the 6 Golden Coins from the bosses (hence the subtitle) and gains access to the castle and goes in to take it back. the castle’s pretty tough, it’s the longest level in the game and there’s no checkpoints so you have to do it all in one go. at the end you face off against Wario who has three different phases, and no, losing to him doesn’t mean you start again in the room before the battle. I’d like to assume Wario throws you out of the window if you fail to defeat him which explains why you have to climb up the whole castle again each time.
speaking of Wario, what an odd first appearance here. he’s not the usual greedy and egotistical anti-hero that he’s known for nowadays, instead he’s a straight up psychopath. he’s twice Mario’s height, his head takes up more than half of his body, his googly eyes are dead and empty, and that smile is filled with nothing but malice. that’s not Wario, that’s the embodiment of chaos. he doesn’t want to become rich, all he wants is to see Mario slowly suffer until there’s nothing left to his name. oh yeah he also uses the power ups in this game during his own fight, so not only is he a schizo, but he’s quite literally a bootleg Mario.
I think this game is neat. I’ll admit the controls are a bit off compared to something like SMB3 or SMW, but they’re an improvement over the previous Super Mario Land and I approve of improvement. not to mention the game’s oozing with a unique personality just like Mario Land 1. though if I had to choose between Sarasaland or Mario Land, I’d probably go with Sarasaland since there’s still a sense of Mario over there. Mario Land feels like it takes place in its own wacky dimension, but there’s nothing wrong with that. if anything, the whole thing feels like a prototype of what Wario Land’s overall mood would end up like, and we all know anything associated with Wario is automatically cool.
unfortunately nothing in this game reminds me of Donkey Kong so that brings it down a bit
Tetris DX is very nostalgic and special to me as I actually owned a physical cartridge of this game back in my youngling days. I have a lot of memories playing this on my old GBA that for the most part I can’t seem to remember because I usually only tend to remember the stupid moments instead of the fun ones. I kinda recall getting the Space Shuttle cutscene at least once, I mean that probably could have been a false memory but I’d like to believe I was that cool back then.
if you played the Game Boy Tetris then Tetris DX is pretty much identical but there’s a few different things going on. DX’s Marathon goes out to Level 30 rather than Level 20 but rather than having the same difficulty curve, DX’s speed increases at a slower rate which means you have more time to ease into the increase of difficulty. you can also save your score in this version so you don’t have to worry about that disappearing whenever you turn the game off. DX also has an improved DAS (Delayed Auto Shift) and if you don’t know what that means, well me neither I just learned the term as I was typing this, but basically the pieces are less annoying to move around. lastly there’s a VS mode where you can compete against a CPU, though it’s pretty primitive as you don’t actually get to see how your opponent performs, your only indicator is a vertical bar to the side of your gameplay that slowly ascends and descends red. if the red reaches top then you’ve defeated them but if it drops down and you hear a warning sound, they’ve sent garbage to your screen that you’ll need to clear out. overall you’ll probably just stick to the default mode, though I’m glad these other modes are here as well.
Tetris DX introduces something special to the game: COLOR!!! okay to be fair NES Tetris has color, the DOS version has color, all the later releases have color, but hey nothing wrong with some easier visualibility. it’s not just color though, there’s a cool new checkerboard background during your gameplay that moves around the whole time, and when you get a Tetris it briefly scrolls faster and changes into a hot pink! it's very satisfying to pull off a Tetris in this game and see that background zoom with the new Tetris jingle going "DELELE WHOOP"! the ending cutscenes that you get when you finish a game have also been changed up a bit. in the original they kept things simple by having a rocket launch with its size depending on how high your score was, but here they decided to have a bit of fun. the general idea is still the same, but now they’re launching out goofier things like a tiny toothpick rocket that chases after a bird, a regular sized rocket that transforms into a parachute, a giant champagne bottle that erupts and fizzles out, they even launch the Statue of Liberty while a brief snippet of “Korobeiniki” plays. even the original space shuttle from the Game Boy game appears but they fail to launch it and have to take it back for repair. if your score’s really good though, they successfully launch the shuttle into space as it drop out items back down to Earth, making the grandiose reveal that all those Tetrominoes that you control during your gameplay are being sent from that very shuttle, thus giving the game a proper backstory, this is the Tetris lore that we needed.
there’s also this neat Fireworks scene after completing the 40 Lines mode that means a bit to me personally. it’s nothing too amazing nowadays, but back when I first saw that cutscene during a late night at the park, I felt as if I won the lottery and earned myself a kajillion dollars, it really was a special occasion. lastly there’s these cool demos that showcase the GBC’s capabilities in-between the regular Tetris gameplay demos. there’s a couple of fish swimming underwater with some neat seaweed moving in the background, a screensaver reminiscent of the DVD logo with a bunch of rainbow triangles while the Nintendo logo briefly glimmers every once in a while, and lastly a chalkboard where a piece of chalk writes out “Nintendo GAMEBOY COLOR” in various colors, all while this track is playing at the back of them all. this is easily the best track in the game and it’s what childhoods are made out of. if you disagree with my statement, well of course I respect your opinion but you heard what I said.
the music is an interesting topic and quite a controversial one as all of the gameplay tracks from GB Tetris are not in this one and have been replaced with generic 8-bit music. I gotta say, that's really disappointing, and this is coming from the guy who grew up listening to the DX tracks. they're not bad tracks they're pretty alright as a matter of fact, they just don't scream out "Tetris" like Korobeiniki or the original B and C themes do. you just gotta have that Russian influence somewhere you know? A-Type sounds a bit underwhelming when it first starts but becomes more catchy the further it goes, B-Type has a bit of a more calming and upbeat melody to it, and C-Type has a bit of a groove going on, it kinda sounds like something I'd hear in a Donkey Kong Land game (yes C-Type is the best one). interesting to note is that the music of what Type you choose is replaced with more frantic versions the higher that your stack rises, so if you ever wanted an added sense of anxiety to Tetris, they got you covered. the rest of the tracks that are in the game are pretty neat too. the File theme is actually a slower remix of the Game Boy's High Score theme except without the second half. the Menu theme is only about 10 seconds long before it loops but it does a great job during those 10 seconds. the Game Over theme pretty much goes "OOPS you messed up, but there's always a next time!", it's goofy and not too discouraging. the Name Entry has a similar vibe to the File theme and shares almost an equal amount of nostalgia to me as the Intro theme. finally the last Ending theme where the shuttle successfully launches has a snippet of the intro before playing its own peaceful and soothing theme, that combined with the cutscene goes together to create the perfect ending for this game.
both Game Boy Tetris' mean a lot to me but DX has much more memories to me in particular. while I never properly owned the original and had to rely on a defunct website to get to try it, with DX I had an actual physical cartridge that I played on all the time before I inevitably lost it. it took me a good while to recover from this tragedy but eventually I would move on, especially after learning there's other and easier ways to play this game again. as for anyone who has yet to try this version in particular, I'd definitely recommend you check it out, especially if the Game Boy version is one of your favorites. if you're feeling discouraged about not being able to listen to the iconic theme, there's a hack that reimplements the full unused track back into the game (sorry to the B and C-Type bros there's no hack for those ones). of course you could always wait for it to get added to the Switch Online service, but I wouldn't count on it. I do hope we see Tetris DX get included in an update for the Game Boy NSO as there's enough differences from GB Tetris to justify it being included, also the more Tetris the better.
take a shot every time I've said GB or Game Boy in this review
I enjoy Tetris, specifically the GB versions as those are the ones that I grew up with. are they perfect though? not exactly. GB Tetris lacks the QoL improvements that make the later releases so great, such as the Hard Drop and Preview. so yeah it’s not perfect, it’s just okay.
wait you’re telling me a rom hack added all those features I mentioned into the original Game Boy version? okay nvm the game’s perfect
as someone who’s particularly fond of the Game Boy games’ aesthetic, a hack like this is practically what the Doctor (Mario) ordered. no longer do I have to worry about those pesky S and Z Tetromino showing up at the worst time possible as now I can just hold them and get a different piece in return (unless I was holding another S/Z Tetromino before then that’s on me). on top of that, the hard drop feature makes game sessions feel much snappier during the earlier levels where the blocks take 10 million years to fall down. oh yeah you can also skip the rocket cutscenes by pressing Start but why would you want to do that those scenes are iconic. all of these features and more, on the OG GB. there’s really no reason to go back to the original version once you’ve got yourself used to this one unless you need the authentic fix of how Tetris used to be played. the only thing that would make this better for me is if an equivalent of this hack was made for Tetris DX as that version supports full color, though DX is technically a different game even if the gameplay is very similar to the original, I just think it’d be cool!
I don’t really know what else to say it’s kinda hard for me to go into an in-depth analysis of Tetris unless you want me to go into the entire history of how the game was made but that’s not what you’re here for, go find a YouTube documentary for something like that. excellent rom hack. if there’s any way you should go about playing the Game Boy version of Tetris in this day and age, this is the way.
if nobody got me I know Tetris got me can I get an AMEN