Super Mario Land 3DS Virtual Console review: Super Mario Land has never been re-released since its original outing back in 1989 so there's a good chance that this will be your first ever experience with Mario's debut handheld adventure.
Created as a side-story to Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Land sees Mario legging it through the Sarasaland region instead of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Instead of having to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser, Mario must save Princess Daisy from Tatanga, an evil space alien who wants to take over Sarasaland and make Daisy his Queen.
Short But Sweet
As one of the earliest Game Boy games, Super Mario Land is a little shorter than other Mario titles. Whereas Super Mario Bros. offered 32 levels, here there are only 12.
Unlike the NES original, all of these levels feel very different. The four worlds each represent different kingdoms within Sarasaland, each one feeling like a real-world location. One minute you'll be running through an Egyptian tomb, the next youre hopping over mad Easter Island heads.
The physics take a bit of getting used to as Mario's jumps seem a bit lighter and his running speed is a little quicker. Also, the action doesn't freeze when Mario powers up or shrinks and Fireballs (or Super Balls as they're called here) shoot in a very different direction to what you may be used to.
Exit Stage Up
Also unique to Super Mario Land are the two side-scrolling shooting stages at the end of the second and fourth worlds which see Mario hopping into a tiny submarine or aeroplane respectively. These help the flow of the game and stop it becoming too repetitive.
Each world has two exits - a standard one at the bottom of the screen and a bonus exit at the top. If you can make your way to the top one which gets harder to reach as you progress through the game, you'll get to play a bonus mini-game which gives you either bonus lives or a power-up depending on your timing. While an interesting diversion, the mini-game is pretty basic stuff.
Songs From A Shroom
The soundtrack is one of the best in Nintendo's history. Composed by Hip Tanaka (who was also responsible for the music in the likes of Metroid, Kid Icarus and Dr. Mario), each world's music fits perfectly with the theme and adds a great deal of character to the game.
Super Mario Land is one of those games that every Nintendo and Mario fan should play at some point. On one level it's an important piece of Mario history, marking the moustachioed plumber's handheld platforming debut.
More importantly, it's still a fun game despite being more than two decades old now, making it yet another testament to the timelessness of these older Nintendo games. It's a game that every Mario fan should download, especially if you've never played it before.
This is an edited version of a review that will appear in the August issue of Official Nintendo Magazine. For more screenshots and in-depth analysis buy the magazine when it goes on sale on 7 July.