Super Mario Land is a platforming video game developed by Nintendo for the Game Boy handheld game console. It and the Game Boy debuted in Japan on April 21, 1989, in the United States on August 1989, and in Europe on September 28, 1990. Super Mario Land marked Mario’s first appearance on the Game Boy and was a launch title for the Game Boy in Japan, North America and Europe. It is one of the first games re-released on the “Virtual Console” for the Nintendo 3DS.
Reviews of the game were generally favorable. The game drove initial sales of the Game Boy and has sold over 18 million copies in total. Super Mario Land was also the first game of the Super Mario series produced by Gunpei Yokoi, who previously produced Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. and Mario Bros. A sequel, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, was released in 1992. Another sequel, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, was released in 1994.
The gameplay of Super Mario Land is similar to that of Super Mario Bros. and its Japanese successor for the Nintendo Entertainment System. As in the previous games, the player takes over the role of Mario. The ultimate objective is to defeat Tatanga, the “Mysterious Spaceman,” and save Princess Daisy. There are some differences from earlier Mario games as well.
Mario’s primary attack is to jump on top of his enemies, which normally kills them. There are a few enemies who cannot be undone in this manner or may even cause damage to Mario if he jumps on them. Power-ups like the Super Mushroom work normally, but the Superball Flower enables Mario to throw “superballs” that fly at a 45-degree angle and ricochet off floors, walls, and ceilings. Unlike traditional fireballs, Superballs can also be used to collect coins, which is useful for coins that are difficult or impossible to reach otherwise. Also, unlike other games in the series, gameplay doesn’t pause briefly when Mario collects a power-up or takes damage.
In two specific levels Mario flies in the “Sky Pop” airplane or travels in the “Marine Pop” submarine instead of walking. In these levels, there is no Super Flower because Mario can shoot the entire time. He still can grow by getting a Super Mushroom or become invincible by getting a Starman. During these levels, the screen constantly scrolls forward until it reaches the boss at the end, and it is not possible to slow down or stop it. Mario can be killed either by an enemy or by being crushed by the edge of the screen.
The game consists of four worlds with three levels each. At the end of the first two levels in each world, there is a tower with an access at the top and at the bottom. If Mario can reach the upper access, there is a bonus level in which the player can win extra lives or power-ups. If he only reaches the lower access, the game continues normally. At the end of every third level, Mario has to fight a boss by either battling it or getting around it to reach a point behind them that will end the battle, similar to fighting Bowser in the original Super Mario Bros. After the game is completed, the game returns to the title screen, and the player is given the option to play in “Hard Mode.” If the game is finished in Hard Mode, the game goes back to the title screen and allows the player to choose which stage to start in, allowing for replay of any particular stage.
One day, a mysterious alien named Tatanga appears and hypnotizes the inhabitants of Sarasaland, including Daisy. He kidnaps Princess Daisy in order to marry her. Mario then sets out to rescue her from Tatanga, traveling through the four geographical areas of Sarasaland and defeating Tatanga’s minions along the way, as well as finding the monsters that pretend to be Daisy in order to fool Mario. Mario finally corners Tatanga in the skies of the Chai kingdom, bringing down his alien warship and rescuing Daisy, who thanks him and takes him back to her castle.
The game was produced by Gunpei Yokoi, who previously produced Donkey Kong (1981), Donkey Kong Jr. (1982), Mario Bros. (1983) and Metroid (1986). It featured music written by Hirokazu Tanaka, who also composed for Duck Hunt (1984). Hiroshi Yamauchi, then president of Nintendo, wanted a Mario game to be on the Game Boy, and ordered Yokoi to create the game with his development team, Nintendo Research & Development 1. This would be the first original portable Mario game since the others made for the Game and Watch. This would also be the first Mario game developed without Shigeru Miyamoto, Yokoi’s protege and creator of Mario and The Legend of Zelda. Early in conceptual development, they decided to recreate the classic gameplay of the 1985 original in new worlds that took Mario far from the Mushroom Kingdom. It seemed like the perfect title to help sell their new system. Yokoi’s take on Mario helped the Game Boy surpass the NES as Nintendo’s best selling platform, and the game itself just surpassed Super Mario Bros. 3’s sales figures.
Initially, Nintendo planned to package Super Mario Land with the Game Boy, but decided to package Tetris instead at the insistence of Henk Rogers, who convinced Nintendo of America head Minoru Arakawa that a Mario title would only sell the Game Boy to young boys instead of everyone. This was the first game released for the original Game Boy.
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