Monday, 2 June 2014

Super Mario Land (GB)


Begs the question, why is there an option idea at all here?


My last review on the Gameboy for this month, especially as it's partly in the start of the next month but so what, my choice and I'm doing this game. Super Mario Land, the very first game in the series on the Gameboy. It's not quite what some might expect, that much should be made very clear.

Bonus rounds do tend to try and throw lives at you, not that you really need them

If anything this game is something different from the other Mario games I might find on the NES and such. The in game physics are slightly different, the flower-power-up is very different in that it bounces off at all angles and isn't affected by gravity, it can also pick up coins if it hits them which makes for a wonderful help on the special room where it's FILLED from top to bottom of the screen with about 230+ coins (2 bonus lives at least) there's a change in the idea of the flag at the end of the level where taking the lower exit gives you no rewards while taking the higher exit will get you a bonus round of "get some lives or a power up". Which is great unless you get the flower and already have it, then the game makes a noise at you.

Not sure who has the bigger moustache here...

The actual game play seems the same on paper. You play as Mario and run, jump and sometimes shoot your way through enemies as you progress to the right and play through various lands and worlds (4 worlds) in order to rescue Princess Daisy (not Peach), where you'll encounter some familiar enemies and some very different enemies ranging from the Goombas and Koopas (which explode now) to rocks that run, giant spiders, sea dragons, dead Chinese spirits, robots and some guy in a spaceship. Each world has a rather unique boss (i.e. it's NOT just King Koopa throwing fireballs) Where you can also attack the boss or hit the blow-it-up button (except on last boss) and kill them that way.

Now.. How are you supposed to work out THIS secret unless you were suicidal?

Every 100 coins is an extra life and the game seems to throw them at you, lives available as hearts (mushroom graphics were difficult to differentiate between back then apparently) and coins and power ups are fairly plentiful. Dying isn't much of a punishment as the checkpoints are very regular although perhaps a little TOO regular in which you may restart far sooner than you realise. Often missing a power up you recently had collected and were expecting again...

A quick change in gameplay and now it's a scrolling shooter!

The running and jumping is a little erratic in places, the movement of Mario as he runs across the ground is fine, as it is when he jumps, it's when he falls from running or from jumping that the gravity of the situation gets a little awkward. Yes that was a very bad pun and I don't care. However, back to the point, jumping up onto platforms and running straight after can result in unexpected movement and speed leading you to go running straight back off again and plummeting to your untimely death, or worse, missing the bonus areas. 

Secrets AHOY!
 
In some cases with the game, how you move before and after bouncing off an enemy can be a game of roulette in trying to ascertain just what the hell is going on and leave you crashing into an enemy rather than killing it. The collision detection with some enemies bounding boxes doesn't quite match the sprites and some enemies move a lot faster than one might expect, causing some real issues with working out just how accurate you really need to be.

Top floor: Bonus level! Bottom floor: Next level...

That said, it's a fun game, steadily paced and rarely will there be a moment where you're in a rush, letting you take your time aside from two particular levels where the game play changes up and you're either in a submarine or in a plane and you'll be flying through the infamous... AUTOSCROLLING levels and shooting down enemies and blocks that are obstructing your path. It makes for a welcome change in pace and there's been enough forethought in the process to make sure the first few moments in the level are fairly enemy-clear to give players a chance to adapt and learn from the new control method.

Only if you're small will you get this one, and betting get big before you leave.

The music is fairly catchy too, except on the dungeon levels while the over world levels are far more upbeat and memorable, to the point where you could easily hum along to the music in fairly short order. It's not quite as famous and popular as the NES Mario music but little is from video games at least, except for perhaps Tetris music. The background beep and noises add little the game in truth other than to provide an audio feedback to events happening within the game, given the original screen of the Gameboy it's likely more useful than it is today with clearer screens.

WHOO! Goomba! It's almost a trademark!

It's fun, I don't deny that at all, it's flawed too but it's still a good solid game and an odd but poignant entry in Nintendo's library of titles. Not like it really needs it given the huge fucking cash cows it has grazing on the front lawn and as soon as the company looks like it'll go into distress it'll just pump out another 100 or so Pokémon and encourage people to buy a new game to catch more of them. I give it a few years before Spunkemon, the evolved Jizzmon, is "released" on the public and I really lost the plot on this one.