Super Mario Land
Format: Nintendo 3DS eShop Virtual Console / Game Boy
Release Date: 28th September 1990 / 7th June 2011 (vc)
Super Mario Land started my addiction to games. It’s all your fault, Mario! I had played other games before I started Super Mario Land such as Tetris, Bubble Bobble, Pacmania and Sonic The Hedgehog, but Super Mario Land was the first game I owned myself. I thought the game would sink into the past, yet I recently finished it once more. Nintendo have a virtual console for the 3DS now so we can all go back in time and enjoy those portable classics and those not so classics. Certainly there to drag up some nostalgia, I can’t imagine kids playing black and white games. It’s like asking them to watch a movie from the 30’s. Times gone rarely interest times now.
Going back to Super Mario Land is like returning to a house from the past, untouched as everything else around it has progressed and changed. The game starts with no fancy opening and Mario speeds along the short levels jumping on enemies and over gaps. The locations and enemies stray away from the Mushroom Kingdom, offering Chinese puppets and animated Moai statues across Egyptian deserts and Bamboo lands. A time when Nintendo weren’t shy to throw Mario into unfamiliar locations, consistency has been developed since. A shame really as outside of the core items such as coins, mushrooms and Goombas, this still feels fresh and exciting. Under the blocky visuals and monochrome screen of course.
One thing which surprised me on my return to Mario Land is how minuscule the adventure is. I bested it in under forty minutes and only died four times. I used to think it was a challenging game with the lack of save feature, and increasingly terrifying enemies pouncing upon me, now it is an entertaining blitz which I seem to have instinctively remember by heart. Time when I felt in a pickle I suddenly overcame as my fingers pulled out some mean feats and Mario became a jumping Rambo. When I was eight it took me many months to be good enough to best the evil alien, Tatanga, and all those months working through the same stages again and again honed my ability to play games and the actions burnt into my thumbs.
The tight speedy platforming still holds up today though, even if some people will take issue with the dated visuals and small play time. Super Mario Land was a perfect little rendition of the Super Mario Brothers formula back in 1990 and even now it can be praised for straying away from the Mushroom Kingdom. 3DS virtual console is going to keep dragging me back to that golden past and thankfully it seems most of the stuff will be bringing me happy nostalgia and not rose tinted spectacle horrors.