The first Super Mario Land is a fine game, but it’s also weird. Really weird. All the sound effects are strange, it has horizontal-scrolling shooter levels, and strange power-ups and enemies. It probably won’t surprise you that it was developed by Gunpei Yokoi’s R&D1 instead of Miyamoto’s EAD team, but when Yokoi’s crew worked on the sequel subtitled 6 Golden Coins, they decided to take some cues from games like Mario 3, and created a game that was more familiar, yet still had a unique feel.
With its cartoony look and detailed sprites reminiscent of Mario World, a plethora of different theme worlds, and original, but understandable power-ups, Land 2 gave Mario fans what they wanted and did so brilliantly. (We’d love to see Rabbit Mario make a comeback.) SML2 brought lovable asshole Wario into all our lives, as the jerky doppelganger steals Mario’s castle (Mario owns a castle?), and the mustachioed one has to beat some tough monsters to collect the six Golden Coins and defeat the chunky ne’er-do-well. It wasn’t the easiest game ever, but Mario Land 2 is still one of the best platformers in portable gaming history.