I've always been drawn to the "weird" Mario games. For instance, I've cited Super Mario Bros 2 (US) as my favorite of the NES games. And that game's weird. And when we're talking about Game Boy, I'm a sucker for Super Mario Land. Also weird. I mean, there's not a lot of Mario games that use Egyptian imagery and UFO's so prominently. Is there?
I got my Game Boy for Christmas in 1989 and it was a really big deal. My parents were divorced so going back and forth between houses meant that I had different games (and consoles) at each house. But when Game Boy came out it meant that wherever I went, I could continue playing the same games. It was awesome.
Of course it would have been less awesome of the games weren't good. But luckily that wasn't the case. And Super Mario Land holds a very special place for me as the first Game Boy title I got to play. See it was just Mario Land and the pack-in Tetris under the tree, and Tetris was a puzzle game that didn't appeal to me at that age.
But Mario Land? Woah. Mario Land was amazing. It was a new Mario platformer you guys! It was a whole new game. It was familiar enough to really sell me on how incredible this new handheld device was, yet it was a whole new game to dig into instead of just a stripped down version of one of the NES games. It was mind-blowing in 1989. For real.
As I've said, it was also weird. Flowers don't give you fireballs; they give you a bouncing ball thing. And there's a couple of auto-scrolling shmup stages. In a Mario game! And also there's only four worlds in total, which feels brief in 2009, but thirty years ago it felt just fine to showcase this new portable system.
Admittedly the game is not perfect. The controls can feel a LITTLE loose at times. But as a launch title for GB, I've got nothing but admiration. And you can argue all day that Super Mario Land 2 is the better game - and MAYBE it is... technically. But I'll always prefer to play this first one, myself. Oh, and also the music is excellent here.
At any rate, it's not a long game at all. And I'm not sure if it's easy or if I've just played the hell out of it, but I ran through it in around forty minutes last night. It was cool seeing those credits roll again for the umpteenth time. It brought me back to being a little kid and showing my mom, "look! I beat it! There's credits like at the end of a movie!" Such a good game.