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Super Mario Land - Review

Super Mario Land feels like a knock-off that just isn't fun to play.


The Good

Interesting level locations
Catchy music
Shooting stuff is fun

The Bad

Poor controls
Odd physics

The Review


Super Mario Land has its heart in the right place. A Mario platformer on a handheld featuring unique locations, power-ups, and saving a woman who is actually a decoy through most of the game. Mario traveling through unique new environments is, unfortunately, one of the only redeeming qualities that it possesses. Mario gets to jump on top of sphinxes with pyramids in the background and jump his way through an amusing Easter Island inspired world. Mario traveling through some cool places in the real world, even if they're not referred to as such, has some cool novelty. Even if it's not as cool as the box art makes it seem.



The visual quality can best be described as all over the place. There are a lot of things that look nice; such as the backgrounds that look like they were penciled in, as well as some of the larger enemies again look smooth and pretty cool, like they were drawn with a pencil. Mario himself looks exactly the same as the first NES game but the bricks and other pieces of environments don't look as good. Bricks and blocks look a lot simpler and some ground textures are black with weird looking cloud shapes. Lord knows what they're supposed to be. Small enemies, such as the exploding koopas and goomba knock-offs, look like they took five seconds draw and that is rather depressing.



At least there is some decent music to be found. There are some tracks right out of the real world such as an Egyptian theme and Chinese theme that sound like they belong in a cartoon of said countries. And that's just fine because it does something different than other Mario games and they carry a good tune. The best track is main theme heard throughout most of the game and it sounds way better when you get a friend to play it on a piano. When you collect a star man you hear the can-can. It's the weirdest thing ever but also very cool.



Perhaps it's because of Nintendo's button decision with the Virtual Console, but Super Mario Land controls like a dog. The B button is run and the A button is jump. Because of their location on the 3DS, it's uncomfortable for the thumb to slide up instead of down. Super Mario Bros. has the same problem but with Land it's more than just the button. The movement feels a lot heavier and finicky making it seem like you could slip off of small platforms since the d-pad needs to be pressed harder to move. Speaking of heavy, the gravity likes to change its mind between descending from a jump and simply dropping off a ledge. When dropping off a ledge you plummet like an anvil. If you're low enough to the bottom of the screen you might even miss that you fell into a hole because you pressed the jump button a millisecond late. Upon noticing this pattern I decided that it was the absolute worst thing about this game. There are other odd behaviors in the physics as well. Once you hit a mushroom out of a block your first instinct is to jump and grab it before it hits the ground. But for some reason it phases right through you like it's programmed to wait a few seconds before becoming a physical object. There is a challenging platformerr hidden in here, but deciding whether it's the levels themselves or the controls and physics screwing you over is entirely up to you.

The most and pretty much only fun part about this game are the shooting sections. You take control of a submarine and later and spam bullets in a classic sidescrolling shooter style. These only appear twice but they control well and despite the hit detection seeming off by a hair it works great. Shooting octopuses for some reason make them fire two deadly projectiles your way which never made any sense to me but it's a fun challenge to overcome. Each end with you shooting a boss to death and they may be easy but you'll find yourself wishing the rest of the game was like this. Sorry Daisy, your just not worth trekking through this game to save. Even if you can beat it in under an hour.


Closing Comments

The bottom line is that Super Mario Land just isn't very good. Unless you're hardcore about owning every Mario game then your $3.99 eShop money can go to a much better game.