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Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
When Super Mario Bros came to the west back in 1985, Mario fever hit HARD. Mario was a phenomenon, it really was. People couldn’t get enough and NES’s were flying off the shelves, an impressive feat considering the video game industry crashed and nearly ended in the US altogether only two years earlier. So when the Game Boy came out in 1989, Nintendo knew they needed to have a Mario title on the platform. Today’s game, is that first portable Mario game. Today’s game is Super Mario Land, developed by Nintendo R&D1 and released on the Game Boy in 1989.
Super Mario Land takes the basic gameplay style of its big brother on the NES. Players play as Mario, moving from the left side of the screen to the right until they reach the end, jumping on enemies and hitting question blocks along the way to get power ups. However, Super Mario Land is actually its own unique game, not just a Game Boy port of Super Mario Bros.
The instruction booklet explains that Mario must go to Sarasaland to save Princess Daisy. Sarasaland is made up of 4 worlds with 3 levels each. Unlike the Mushroom Kingdom where previous Mario games had taken place, Sarasaland’s worlds are actually inspired by real world locations and cultures. One world features Easter Island heads while another takes place in an Egyptian pyramid. This use of real-world themes wouldn’t return to Mario again until Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch.
Enemies also function differently in Super Mario Land than in the console releases. When Koopas are bounced on, they act like Bob-ombs from later games in that their shells start blinking before exploding and potentially ending the player’s run. Many enemies are brand new such as bouncing Easter Island heads or a deadly Sphinx.
Super Mario Land was the first Mario game to not be overseen by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Being for the Game Boy, Super Mario Land wasn’t a priority over at Nintendo but Gunpei Yokoi, the lead designer and inventor of the Game Boy itself, was determined to make sure Super Mario Land would be a success, both as a Mario game and as something unique on its own merits. The game was a huge success with critics, with many praising Nintendo for not making any compromises in bringing Mario to a portable console.
Super Mario Land was originally planned to be a pack-in title for the Game Boy but this was later replaced with Tetris. Despite this, Super Mario Land was a wild commercial success and is the fourth best-selling game for the handheld, only beaten by Tetris and the first two Pokemon generations. While Super Mario Land would receive a sequel on the Game Boy, the gameplay style of the original would never be used again and it remained mostly forgotten by Nintendo, despite Daisy becoming a mainstay character in the Mario universe. But with Super Mario Maker 2 adding the Superball power-up, it seems this Game Boy classic hasn’t been forgotten entirely, just yet.
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