Upon Retrospect: Super Mario Land

Welcome to another edition of Upon Retrospect, where I talk about games from the past. This time, we're talking about Super Mario Land for the Game Boy.


Nintendo needed their mascot, Mario, to be in a handheld game. After all, you can't sell a system without your main character. That's where Super Mario Land came in.


Initially released on April 21, 1989, Super Mario Land was published and developed by Nintendo. However, Shigeru Miyamoto didn't work on this project, making it the first Mario game without the legend at the helm. Instead, this was developed by Nintendo R&D1, which was headed by Game Boy creator Gunpei Yokoi. Initially, this was supposed to be the showcase game for the Game Boy until Nintendo of America bundled Tetris with the system.


Super Mario Land takes Mario on a platforming journey through Sarasaland to save Princess Daisy. She's been kidnapped by Tatanga, who looks to rule the land with an iron fist. As a result, Mario must traverse through four lands to stop his treacherous plot.


This classic is a nice little adventure to go on with Mario. It follows suit of Super Mario Bros., with a simple side-scrolling formula of basic enemies. You're not just following the platforming style, though. You're also going through levels Gradius-style, shooting up enemies and blasting through objects.


While this all sounds good, there are some flaws. The game seems a little... short. You can breeze through the whole game in under an hour if you're skilled enough. Considering that this isn't difficult to achieve, it's too little of a challenge to play.


Another problem is the controls of the game. While it's not bad to control Mario throughout your adventure, Super Mario Land does have moments where a jump is off. That's also true when Mario slips off a stage by accident due to excessive movement. It's hard to stop him when the game continues his motion.


Still, that shouldn't deter you from trying this timeless classic. Its simplicity and charm are enough to keep you distracted for an hour or two. If you're looking to pass the time for a bit, give Super Mario Land a try.