I grew up on this game. I’d complete it every day of every weekend. I’d explore every nook and cranny looking for lives, hidden power ups and secret levels. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is a 2D platformer and a huge step up from its predecessor released three years earlier. I’d say its not a sequel to that game so much as bringing a bit of Super Mario World to the Game Boy. The graphics are similar and do an excellent job of looking like their television screen counterparts. Everything is big and easy to see.
As always, you play as Mario and his land was taken over by his evil counterpart, Wario. Some of the usual power ups make an appearance, a super mushroom to make Mario taller and give him an extra hit. A fire flower that now puts a feather in his cap that lets him throw fireballs and not just fry some enemies, but there are certain blocks they can destroy. Much like how any form of tall Mario can break blocks from underneath them and find items inside of question marked boxes. There is also a starman for invincibility that gives you a one up after you plow through four or five enemies. A 1-Up heart for an extra life and new to the series, the carrot. This carrot lets Mario hover if he’s in mid air. Its good for bypassing a lot of the levels and its simple enough to master and use in a pinch. As a tall Mario, you can now spin in the air to break through weaker blocks.
The levels feel pretty unique to the Mario franchise. You’ll visit a bee’s honey hive, swim in a whale, visit the moon, get shrunk inside an ant hill and explore haunted houses. The only thing familiar between the levels are the blocks, goombas and koopas, but every level has a different theme to it. Each level has a good exploration element to it. More than just going down pipes to find secret areas, there are branching paths and even multiple ways to complete each level that will find you new levels. Hitting bells acts like a checkpoint.
Swimming is here from traditional Mario games. More than just water, Mario will use honey to swim through and find interesting ways around the level. There’s a hippo that puts Mario into a bubble so he can basically air swim. Its the same mechanic, just jumping and floating, only in the bubble its more difficult to get height and its easier to drop like a stone. On the moon, Mario can jump extra high and the deeper into space he goes, the more his jump lets him float up. Some levels have a scrolling screen to keep the pace moving. Its all a good way to keep things fresh, not just from level to level, but it gives the Game Boy something unique that not even the Super Nintendo has. Exclusive themes, bosses and gameplay. It drives people to this game instead of seeing it as a lesser version of Super Mario World.
Along the way, you collect coins, but 100 coins isn’t a life in this game. Instead, you take them to what is basically a casino to bet 30, 50, 100, 200 or 999 coins for things like power ups in the 30 category and lives in the more risky categories. Its a nice diversion and a good way to use up all of the coins. A wheel spins and you hit the button to get a prize! There is of course a witch on one of the tiles that gives you nothing. That’s not the only mini game, at the end of most levels there is a bell high above the door. Hit the bell, get a chance at one of two mini games. The first is a simple crane game that automatically moves back and forth to hunt for items on a conveyer belt. The second mini game is more a kin to the previous game. You have items at the top and circuits at the bottom connecting everything. Hit a switch to send a current up to get your prize. The only problem is the current doesn’t go straight and before you hit the switch, mice are randomly moving on the circuits to deviate the current’s path.
Unlike the previous game, there is now a map to explore and you follow paths to the levels instead of just having one level after another. Complete one level to keep traveling on the path. The main Mario Land has six areas, each having three or four levels, a boss and a golden coin. When you collect all six golden coins, then you can enter Wario’s castle for what is the ultimate test in this game. No check points and its much more difficult than anything else here.
The bosses are all different, you’ll face a giant bird that flies, a witch that shoots fire to make three cauldrons blow their lids and even a space alien. Each one still only requires three stomps to the head. The trick is getting to the head. Its all pretty easy. Most enemies can be stomped, but there are plenty of others that can’t be. Some explode, others you get a shell to throw to take out more foes. There’s a lot of variety to the enemies.
The music and sound really complete the package. The sounds are close to the traditional sounds we all know and love. Fireballs, spin jumps, going down pipes. Its very familiar and so good to hear even on the Game Boy.The music is really enjoyable, some of it I swear sounds like it could have been used for the Wii. Its a diverse array of catchy tunes, happy and upbeat to lumbering and slow.
It is still a lot of fun playing to this day. As an adult it was a breeze in about 90 – 120 minutes with the only challenge being Wario’s Castle. The perfect time for a Game Boy game or a long car ride to fill the time. It is well deserving to be in anyone’s Game Boy collection.