Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (1992)

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The second Super Mario Land game, set shortly after the first, introduced anti-Mario Wario as the main antagonist. While Mario was far away rescuing just another princess, Wario has taken over his kingdom and now Mario has to win it back.

The game sport an overland map, from which you can go to five of the six sub-areas (one, the space area, can only be entered via a sort of secret route (well not that secret, it’s pretty easy to reach via the Hippo bubble and the upper exit from that level)) or various other single levels. The final castle, where Wario is waiting, can only be accessed once all the Coins have been collected by beating all the bosses in the six sub-areas.

While the game is a typical platformer, it shares some of the genetic code of it’s big brother on the SNES, Super Mario World. The overworld gives the game a somewhat exploratory, even non-linear character and make it feel bigger than it really is. You can try any of the major areas at once, or go back to previous visited levels to find some of its secret, which often requires changing into one of the many forms Mario can take.

To this day I’m pretty ambivalent about the game. As far as platformers go, it’s like most Mario games heavily refined, has some neat level designs (though less memorable than for example the first Super Mario Land) and is diverse and big enough to provide fun for a few hours. But two things always irked me about the game.

First is the difficulty, which is far too easy. Most levels can be beaten without even breaking a sweat, apart from Wario’s castle, where the difficutly (compared to the rest of the game) suddenly spiked (though not if you had the carrot update for flying). Nothing in the rest of the game came even close to that.

The second thing that annoyed me was that the controls felt different to other Mario games, even the first Super Mario Land. A bit sluggish, with the character sprite having more momentum than I expected. In a platformer, changing the controls between titles in a series is never a good thing, because it throws the player off (even with a game as easy as this).