Super Mario Land Series

today I’ll talk about a franchise that deserves a lot more love and that’s the Super Mario Land games the games were Nintendo’s way of bringing Super Mario Brothers onto the Gameboy there were only three games and in one of them you don’t even play as Mario but they were all solid titles and they introduced a few characters to the Mario universe that have become staples between the ages of 6 and 12 the Gameboy was my life and I had all the Super Mario Land games they were some of my favorites on the system and I feel like they’re a bit underappreciated today you don’t hear about him that often I mean there’s a few references to the series in Super Smash Brothers but that’s about it but I have many fond memories of playing these games growing up and they deserve more love so today I’ll share the history of the Super Mario Land series and what makes these Game Boy games so wonderful the Super Mario Land series began during the development of the Game Boy the Gameboy was created by research and development 1 Nintendo’s oldest internal development team their previous inventions included the game and watch the d-pad and Rob the robots legendary Nintendo engineer gunpei Yokoi and his co-worker Satoru Okada came up with the idea for the Gameboy according to Okada Yokoi originally envisioned the Gameboy as a successor to the game and watch it was more of a toy than a gaming system and would play simple quick games Okada disagreed and thought the Gameboy could be more like the Famicom or the Nintendo Entertainment System a full-fledged system with third-party developers Yokoi eventually gave in the new system needed games to go along with it in guten pea koi knew just what to make we initially thought that a character like Mario was essential for the launch of such a machine platform games are accessible to all and Nintendo’s mascot obviously had enough popularity to attract many potential users however Mario creators should get who Mia ohto wouldn’t be involved he was too busy working on his own projects for the Super Nintendo like Super Mario World in the Legend of Zelda a Link to the Past so development of the new Mario game would fall to R and D 1 the same team developing the Gameboy it made sense they knew the system inside and out as well as its limitations they also had experience in game development having made several NES titles including Kid Icarus and Metroid yokoi was pretty familiar with the Mario franchise as well Miyamoto consulted with you koi when he made the original Mario Brothers arcade game as well as Super Mario Brothers from a design perspective Miyamoto said Yokoi was the biggest influence on his career it was the first time Miyamoto wasn’t involved in a super mario game director duties were given to Satoru Okada Okada was more of an engineer than a game designer and that came in handy they had to shrink the colorful world of Super Mario into a handheld system that could only display four colors being co-creator of the Gameboy Okada was more than capable of the job because it was a brand new development team R&D; 1 created a whole new land for Mario to explore thus the game’s title Super Mario Land it launched alongside the Game Boy on April 21st 1989 in Japan July 31st 1989 in North America in September 28th 1990 in Europe Super Mario Land was originally planned to be the packing title with the Gameboy but Nintendo famously decided to include tetris instead dansgame tatanga he is also kidnapped Princess Daisy who makes her debut in this game Mario must traverse through the four kingdoms of Sarasa land and rescue Daisy this is the first Super Mario game not to feature Luigi toad or Princess Peach now when you first start playing the definitely looks small but compared to the other launch titles it’s actually pretty impressive all the Gameboy launch titles had a somewhat similar look considering most of them were developed by Hardy one that makes sense if you look a little closer though rd1 came up with a few tricks to get around some of the game boys limitations for example there are no 1up mushrooms why the previous Super Mario games a red mushroom made Mario bigger and a green mushroom gave Mario an extra life with only four gray colors on the Gameboy that’s impossible to implement so in Super Mario Land mushrooms make Mario bigger while hearts give Mario extra lives each of the four kingdoms look more like real-life locations than anything from the Mushroom Kingdom Mira Bhutto looks like ancient Egypt it’s got hieroglyphics pyramids the works muda I’m honestly not sure what this is supposed to look like it could be either the lost continent of MU which is supposedly in the Atlantic Ocean or maybe the island of Bermuda either way there’s a bunch of water in this kingdom Easton is definitely based on Easter Island considering the large number of moai statues situated throughout the level and finally there is chai which is based on ancient China the music definitely has a Far East sound and the level is filled with bamboo and part of my Chinese yunxi which are basically hopping vampires at the end of each level there are two exits if you can reach the top one you’ll get to play a shoots in ladder style bonus game to earn extra lives or a powerup while exploring sarasaland you’ll hear catchy tunes by hit okay zou Tanaka the game’s composer Tanaka is mostly known for his work on earthbound in dr. Mario but his jingles in Super Mario Land are as usual fairy good it’s amazing how he can make a 30-second tune and it never gets repetitive the ending theme is also one of the best compositions on the Gameboy [Music] [Music] now gameplay-wise mario feels off don’t get me wrong it’s definitely a Mario game there’s stars mushrooms jumping stomping on enemies everything but the physics are a little different than the NES games Mario’s movement is much more stiff almost tink like he won’t be skidding off the edge of a cliff in this game Mario stops on a dime Mario also has a new powerup as well no it’s not a fire flower although it definitely looks like one it’s the Super Ball firing a super ball bounces a projectile all over the screen destroying enemies in its path it can also collect coins while going through Sarasa land you’ll encounter a whole bunch of new enemies fun fact the Super Mario Land manual kept all the Japanese names for the enemies no that’s not a Koopa Troopa it’s Naoko bone these are also known as bombshell Koopas since their shells explode after you jump on them oh you think this is a Goomba nope it’s chibi Bo I mean come on this is a Goomba there’s paw Coon flowers sera Solon’s version of the piranha plant but most of the enemies are new here including my favorite chicken besides platforming levels there are also some shoot-’em-up levels where Mario is in either a submarine or an airplane these levels are a nice change of pace even the final boss stage where you fight tatanga is a shoot-’em-up level interestingly enough Miyamoto wanted these kinds of levels in the original Super Mario Brothers where Mario would ride a rocket and fire a beam gun but when he couldn’t make the controls were he abandoned the idea at just 12 levels Super Mario Land is a short game an average player can beat the game in under an hour once he beat it you can play it through again in expert mode there’s no save system but I doubt you’ll need it at the time critics praised Super Mario Land computer and video games magazine said a small yet perfectly formed Mario whizzes past equally impressive sprites and back electronic gaming monthly said even though it’s black and white and on a two inch screen Super Mario Land is a fantastic game that is above all very fun to play now I’ve got a few gripes with the game you can’t go backwards in a level and I don’t really like how Mario handles it’s also just way too short it hasn’t aged as well as the other games in the series by the time the sequels came out Nintendo had a better grasp of the Gameboy and what it could do nevertheless Super Mario Land is still a decent platformer and it showed the potential of the Gameboy and that’s important for a launch title you might be shocked to learn that Super Mario Land sold more than 18 million copies worldwide making it the seventh best selling Super Mario game of all time and the fourth best-selling Gameboy game of all time it sold more units than Super Mario Brothers 3 I probably chopped that up to the game being a launch title for the Gameboy Super Mario Land proved to be very popular even spawning toys comics aboard game and drinking glasses the ambassadors of funk even made a song about it it was enough popularity for Nintendo to begin working on a sequel in November of 1991 a new group of employees at rd1 were assigned a project Super Mario Land 2 it og kiyotaka was given director duties he had previously worked on dr. Mario but he was more well known for being the original character designer of Samus in Metroid at first kiyotaka and his team wanted to follow in the footsteps of the previous game make a whole new world for Mario to explore but they made it a little too new and the feedback wasn’t great kiyotaka said when we showed our first draft to everyone they were like I don’t know is this Mario we realized we were on the wrong path so we tone down that idea and made something a little closer to the existing mario world and when you play Super Mario Land 2 it definitely feels more like a Mario game I’d say it’s pretty close to Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo there’s battery saves an overworld map secret levels bonus games six unique worlds and graphically it just looks more like Mario one interesting change to the Mario formula is the storyline for once Mario isn’t rescuing a princess kiyotaka stated mario has always fought for someone else’s benefit but we thought it would be a nice change of pace to make a game where he’s fighting to win back something of his own in this instance Mario tries to take back his castle from a new villain named Wario Wario made his debut in Super Mario Land 2 and has become a mainstay in the Mario universe he began simply as a name rd1 wanted to create a new villain for Mario well Mario is a good guy so what’s the opposite of good bad the word for bad in Japanese is wada we flip the m upside down and mario and you get wario RND one imagined Wario as a Bluto type enemy if Mario was Popeye this time you’ll explore a world called Mario Land I don’t know where this is in relation to the Mushroom Kingdom but it’s apparently where Mario lives he’s done pretty well for himself to afford this massive castle while Mario was in Sarasa Lane saving Daisy Wario who has always been jealous of Mario took over his land so technically this is a direct sequel within mario land our six unique worlds to explore conquering each world gets you a coin and you need six of them to unlock the door to the castle setting up your final battle with Wario Takehiko hosokawa a relative newcomer to nintendo designed the whole look of the game he’d only been with the company for a year and a half before starting work on Super Mario Land 2 but this was the first game he got to work on that really showed off his designs and its really superb work Super Mario Land 2 feels and looks more like a Mario game each world feels pretty unique they can be accessed at any time so there’s no certain order you need to beat them meaning their difficulty is about the same kiyotaka and his team claimed getting the difficulty level just right was the hardest part in making the game you’ve got pumpkin zone which has some spooky enemies my favorite being the walking Jason mask literally named Jason in Japan Mario Zone has you explore a giant mechanical Mario statue I guess Mario built this to worship himself one cool Easter Egg are the N and B blocks in one level back in the 60s Nintendo made these to compete against the Legos one level is built completely out of these blocks gyoon pea koi worked on the N and B toys and was a producer on Super Mario Land 2 e turtles own is the required by gaming law underwater world as a kid I always thought being inside the whale was kind of creepy look at those teeth oh and the Sharks are wearing boxing gloves macro zone has Mario shrunk down to a microscopic size exploring a house in fighting off ants and mice whose house is this we don’t know we’ll probably never know space zone was a unique area and that you can’t just go to it on the map you actually have to beat a level to get there gravity is gone and Mario can float around in space it makes for some cool level design also the world boss is tatanga from the first super mario land and finally there is tree zone where you battle flies and bugs and eventually defeat a massive angry bird seriously his name is just bird it’s almost as good as chicken from the first game after you collect all six coins you’ve got to take back your castle this level is pretty challenging as it’s full of traps Wario and his crazed look awaits you at the end of your journey one interesting change to gameplay is coins instead of getting 100 and resetting to zero you can collect up to 999 coins you can spend these coins on bonus games to win extra lives power-ups and more coins killing 100 enemies earns you a star powerup speaking of power-ups there are plenty to find in Super Mario Land 2 the bunny ears are very cool but it can also make levels very easy you can literally flap your ears across areas and barely fall the fire flower powerup is finally back to get around the lack of colors Mario grows a feather out of his hat to signify he can shoot fireballs he also has this new spin move which is handy for breaking blocks below you rd1 did bring back a few things from the first game if you reach the top area of the exit you get to play a bonus game and 1ups are still hearts kazumi tataka another newcomer composed the music in the game and if that name sounds familiar it should totally is famous for totaku’s song a simple little jingle he likes to hide in the games he works on he’s still at Nintendo today so he’s hidden his song in a ton of games for Super Mario Land 2 just wait on the game over screen for 2 minutes and 30 seconds [Music] so Takas work here is incredible catchy tunes and classic sound effects Super Mario Land 2 6 golden coins was released on October 21st 1992 in Japan November 2nd 1992 and North America in January 28th 1993 in Europe it was the largest Gameboy game up to that point a whopping 4 megabits like its predecessor Super Mario Land 2 was a hit with critics electronic gaming monthly summed it up pretty well by stating absolutely the best Gameboy action I’ve ever played the game would go on to sell more than 11 million units making it the sixth best-selling Gameboy game of all time this is my personal favorite of the Super Mario Land games they fixed all of my complaints from the first game you can go back in a level now there’s way more stages Mario feels like Mario again my only real complaint is in some areas there’s some slowdown it’s also a fairly easy game now when I first beat Super Mario Land 2 as a kid I thought for sure Mario had peaked it can’t get any better than this on the Gameboy right well in a way Mario did peak with Super Mario Land 2 because the next game in series stars not Mario but Wario you are me why are your very handsome I’m the bad guy and Wario Land Super Mario and we’re being bad is would and yes Wario Land Super Mario Land 3 was the third installment in the series there is no doubt in my mind that Super Mario Land was added to the title for brand recognition when the first two games sell more than 29 million units combined it’s a smart move this was Wario’s first game all to himself many of the same people who worked on Super Mario Land 2 returned including director hood og kiyotaka and designer Takehiko hosokawa after getting kicked out of Mario’s castle Wario hears a rumor that the brown sugar pirates of kitchen island yeah there’s a food theme in this game stole a statue of Princess Peach Wario’s goal is to find the statue and sell it for a hefty price tag to buy his very own castle it seems the developers kept with the theme of opposite of Mario while Mario games are generally fast paced with lots of platforming Wario Land is a little slower paced with more exploration and instead of mushrooms making you grow its garlic the name of the game in Wario Land is collecting treasure Wario collects coins which are tallied up at the end of each level you’ll also have to spend money you can’t use checkpoints or even leave a level without ponying up some dough you can even attack enemies with coins hidden throughout stages are treasures which Wario admires after beating a level he’s just like a retro game collector this aspect of the game really drew me in as a kid it might have been the beginning of my love for collectibles in games Wario can jump on enemies but he has special hats that give him powers the bull hat allows him to ram through blocks easily and ground-pound which stuns nearby enemies the dragon hat lets Wario shoot out flames for a short period of time and the jet hat lets you jump higher run faster and fly through the air with 40 levels it’s a much bigger than Super Mario Land 2 there is plenty of Secrets in here as well one cool feature is how the levels interact with the map for example in Rice Beach one level will alternate between water and no water depending on the tide Wario Land is also a fairly decent challenge I can breeze through the first two Mario Land games but Wario Land always gave me a good fight the final boss is against this absolute unit of a genie and once you defeat him the map reveals the missing statue of Princess Peach but here comes Mario who did nothing flying in to steal your prize I actually feel bad for Wario however the genie decides to grant Wario one wish and of course he wants a castle the size of the castle you get depends on how much treasure and coins you collected during your journey my first playthrough I got a tree-stump Wario lands Super Mario Land 3 was released on January 21st 1994 in Japan March 13th 1994 in North America in May 13 1994 in Europe critics once again love the game Wario even got his own cover of Nintendo Power on issue 58 the game sold more than 5 million copies this game marked the beginning of the Wario Land series and sadly the end of the Super Mario Land series in 1995 Nintendo hyped up their newest console the Virtual Boy it was basically a headset that played games everything was rendered in red and black but it did have some cool 3d effects Nintendo treated it as a successor to the Gameboy but it was ultimately a disaster during the winter CES show of 1995 Nintendo teased a few titles including a new Mario game it went by several different names some called it Mario adventure others called it Mario Brothers Virtual Boy but it’s most commonly referred to online as Virtual Boy Mario Land this game never came out so we don’t really know too much about it but it looked like a standard Mario game that utilized some 3d effects the Virtual Boy did get a Wario Land game though and it’s quite good in fact Nintendo kept making Wario Land games the last one being Wario Land shake it on the Nintendo Wii in 2011 Nintendo released Super Mario 3d Land on the Nintendo 3ds was this a return to the Mario Land series no it has a similar name but as far as I can tell it has nothing to do with the Super Mario Land series Nintendo took a gamble hanging off the reins of Mario to a team that did not include Shigeru Miyamoto but it ultimately paid off are these games revolutionary not really but they were important they clearly helped make the Game Boy a success by selling more than 34 million units combined I have wonderful memories playing these games growing up and I’m sure anyone else who played them feels the same way in fact one fan by the name of Torahs released a romhack that turned Super Mario Land 2 into a gameboy color game it even added Luigi as a playable character very cool but let’s not forget that these games established new characters into the Mario universe I mean think about it without Super Mario Land we might not have Daisy or Wario and without Wario we would have never gotten everyone’s favorite 

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