Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Super Mario Land (Gameboy, 1989)

The whole series of Super Mario games is synonymous with platforming. If you’re over the age of 15 and into games in any way then the chances are you’ve played one of Nintendo’s many fabulous platforming games.

Super Mario Land on the Gameboy - because of the limitations of the hardware - had to strip down the Mario experience to its core. That is perfect platform action.  As far as the gameplay goes on this game its virtually perfect. Every press of the D-pad or button does what you want (and indeed expect...) it to do.  Everything “feels” solid and reliable and pixel perfect. There’s no clipping or dodgy graphics (see my Mercenary Force video for an example of how not to code graphics on the Gameboy) all the sprites are animated perfectly.

Audio wise it’s fairly middling stuff. Plinky plonky tunes that (even though there were made into a music single) aren’t really on the same level as the Castlevanias of the world. Its not to say it bad - it just isn’t anything remarkable either. Castlevania showed that Gameboy can pull off some half decent tunes if the programmers have the time/skill to do them.

Replay value for my money is quite high. The game is both short enough to finish on your lunch break but at the same time long enough to last longer than the blink of an eye. Last time I played through it took me under 30 minutes. And there’s the level select you unlock when you’ve completed the game twice in a row.  The game is enjoyable enough that even though I’ve played it over 100 times I still like going through it all again. For me that’s a hallmark of programmers who know how to code a good game. Unlike Mario Kart for example which I personally find infuriating.

The one thing I would criticise this for - that I only noticed recently playing through a number of other GB titles - is that I think the graphics are quite lacklustre. They move perfectly but the backgrounds are on occasions fairly bland. The enemy sprites look ok but Mario is a little blob of pixels with no detail. If you compare this to Navy Seals which has very rich backgrounds and characters - it looks almost amateurish. For my money at least.

But whatever you do - if you have the means - you should play this game.  Its a classic, it was perfect for the gameboy and there’s plenty of secrets in there if you have the time to look for them. It definitely worth a few Pounds, Dollars, Euros etc... of your money to play this classic game.

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