Title: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: Virtual Console
NA Availability: Digital
EU Availability: Digital
Block Usage: 37
When looking onward for the 3DS library, you can look forward or backwards. Just like the PS Vita with PSP and PS1 games, the Nintendo 3DS can play backwards-compatibility games through Virtual Console. It’s not a very big library, but there are some NES, Game Gear, Game Boy, and Game Boy Color games at the 3DS’ disposal. It’s also how 3DS players will be able to play Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow in a couple months.
I grew up with the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, so looking for new games to play and review was easy. All I had to do was look back on my childhood. I just got out my little box of remaining Game Boy and GBC cartridges and found something right away that’s on Virtual Console. One of the first handheld Mario games that almost doesn’t even have artwork on the cartridge anymore because I played it so much.
Now, with Game Boy Mario games, there aren’t a lot out there on Virtual Console. Game Boy Mario is most well-known for the Super Mario Land series. I honestly never played the first game and do plan on getting it in the future. But, let’s talk about a game I played so much that I still have pretty much the entire game memorized, even after not playing it for years. Here is my retro review of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins!
The plot of Super Mario Land 2 takes place directly after the events of the original Super Mario Land. While Mario was away, rescuing Princess Daisy in the first game, Wario moved into Mario’s castle. Wario is described as an evil creep who has always been jealous of Mario’s popularity. Having locked Mario out of his castle and spread his golden coins throughout the kingdom, Mario must then retrieve the coins from Wario’s lackeys and take back his castle.
These Mario games didn’t really need a story, but it’s there, regardless. This game was also the series introduction of the Wario character. While he is often portrayed as more of an anti-hero, he is a straight up villain and the final boss of the game, instead of the Koopa King, Bowser.
Do I even need to describe this game’s genre? You know the Mario series from back in the early 1990s. This is a 2D platformer with combat elements. It’s the same style game as all of the NES Super Mario Bros games as well as Super Mario Land.
The game has a point-based world map that has six different main worlds you can go to. Each world has a few stages leading up to a boss stage, which unlocks a golden coin. Defeat all six bosses and the castle in the middle of the hub world will unlock, giving you access to the final battle with Wario.
This game is a little unique in that the progression isn’t as linear as other 2D Mario games. You can tackle the worlds in any order you want. There isn’t a World 1, World 2, World 3. If you want to go to Space Zone before Tree Zone, you can. If you want to do Pumpkin Zone after Mario Zone, you can. You have a lot more freedom than in others, even the more recent games like Super Mario 3D Land.
Traveling through a stage is pretty simple. You platform across the stage with the goal of getting to the goal at the end. Mario Land 2 implements a bell at the end of each stage that functions a lot like the flags from the first Super Mario Bros on the NES. You can enter the exit door normally, but if you hit the bell, you enter a mini-game at the end that can net you a power-up or extra lives.
Speaking of power-ups, let’s talk about what makes this game unique. There are 2 different power-ups that you get in the game. You have the Fireball power-up that is classic for the Mario series. You also have the Bunny Mario power-up, which is exclusive to this game. This gives Mario rabbit ears and lets you have higher jumps as well as a hover that moves you down at an extremely slow pace, making it a very useful tool in stages with spike pits or ground-based bosses.
The game’s difficulty is hard for me to really gauge. In their review of the game, Nintendo Life said that Mario Land 2 is on the easy side. It’s hard for me to gauge because I’ve played the game so much, I practically have every stage memorized. I know exactly what to do in every inch of every stage. It has no difficulty for me because I know where everything is. So let’s say it’s not a game that is especially hard, but not one that’s a straight up cake walk.
Length is controversial. According to the “How Long to Beat” web site, the game takes 2-3 hours to complete. I spent about 2-3 minutes in each stage, so I would wager someone who knows the game could beat it in about 1-2 hours. Either way, you’ll be spending a couple hours on the game. It’s not long, but for a five-dollar Game Boy game, it’s not a bad trade-off.
Controlling the game is quite simple. After all, the Game Boy only had A, B, a D-Pad and the Start/Select buttons. With the Virtual Console emulator, you only use the D-Pad, Circle Pad, A, and B. You can use the touch screen, though, to enter the VC menu for restore points. Honestly, though, you shouldn’t need to use restore points.
The D-Pad and Circle Pad can be used to move around in stages as well as the world map/hub world. The A button is used to enter stages or jump inside a stage. The B button is used to shoot fireballs or use a spinning jump if the D-Pad is held down as well when you jump. These are not customize-able on the 3DS.
This section of the game, surprisingly enough, has some parts I want to nitpick. First of all, the visual style has translated well, for the most part. However, the upscaling doesn’t make it quite crisp enough. The visuals look blurry, especially when you’re walking or running.
The second is slow-down. I’m not going to call this frame-rate and you’ll know why in just a moment. I had cases in every stage where the entire game would slow down, especially in the middle of a jump. It looks like frame drops are happening, but if you pay attention, the entire game slows down. Even the music feels like it suddenly goes into slow motion. I didn’t notice this in the original game. I even booted up my GBC to compare. The game has new slowdown sections in the Virtual Console release.
The sound quality is a highlight, though. All of the iconic music I remember is there and is shown splendidly. I even remembered and hummed the boss battle music after several years of not playing the game.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is a Game Boy classic that any handheld Mario fan should look into. The game isn’t perfect though. The Virtual Console release has blurred visuals and some slowdown, but these aren’t enough to kill a classic and unique experience, even among today’s Mario games.