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Memory Leaks: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

🪙 They Wanna Get My Gold On The Ceiling...

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins was the sequel to Super Mario Land, making it the second proper game in the Mario franchise released for the Nintendo Game Boy. It directly followed Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo and introduced the world to Wario, who would not only be an enduring villain for Nintendo, but a character who would have multiple franchises in his own right.

How I Remember It...

You ever wonder why the bundled title for Game Boy systems wasn't one of Nintendo's first-party games? Think about it. You own the IP for Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Metroid, and when you debut a handheld system, the thing you package with it is... Tetris. A puzzle game that tons of people already had on their computers, that was being simultaneously released for the Nintendo console. That's what you bundle as the killer app for your new handheld system. Why would you do that? I'll tell you why. It's because Tetris played great on crap hardware, and the Game Boy was definitely facing some limitations in that department.

Despite its awkward title, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is my favorite game for the Game Boy, for the sole reason that it's the first game I played on that system that didn't feel like an inferior version of console game. And keep in mind, this came out after the Super Nintendo had hit. By any comparison, the Game Boy was a pretty weak-sauce gaming experience with its the extremely low-res screen that was an ugly monochromatic green, that blurred when things moved. It had fewer buttons, and the games were necessarily shorter and smaller. And all of that held true for SML2, and yet it wasn't held back.

The game actually felt like it broke some new ground for the franchise. Instead of progressing linearly, the game had six areas that you could tackle in any order. The level designs were a bit more puzzley than your typical platformer. Instead of the standard plains, hills, desert, snow, lava-hell tableau that you find in every Mario game, this one took you to a submarine, a tree, an oversized house, and even the moon. And once you finished all six areas and retrieved the titular golden coin from each, you went on to face Wario, who got bonus points for being a villain who wasn't Bowser. It was refreshing, fun, and challenging. I played it through many times.

The Super Mario Land franchise continued with a third entry, but Nintendo had figured out who the real star of the show was. In Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 you play as Wario, and this became the first entry of the new Wario Land series that would have installments for the Game Boy, Virtual Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and eventually the Wii. As for Mario, he wouldn't star in another 2D platformer for 14 years with 2006's New Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo DS. It's a shame his career never really took off.

In MEMORY LEAKS, Kurt is going through his favorite video games. See more posts.


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