Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Random Retro Round Up #2: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Game Boy)


Another week, another edition of the Random Retro Roundup!  This time, it is the turn of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins for the original Game Boy.  For some reason, while I was growing up I never really gave this game a fair chance.  A friend of mine got it and was very eager to show me how awesome it was, yet after playing it for a bit I still felt that the original had more charm.  I have picked the game back up again several times over the years yet never really made any headway - until this past week where I finally played the whole thing from beginning to end. Whilst you could hardly call any of the Mario platform games obscure, this is probably the least well known of all them.  It delivers everything you would hope and expect to be in a first party developed Nintendo game – tight controls, impressive graphics, no technical flaws and imaginative level designs.

Title: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Developer: Nintendo
Year Released: 1993

This time the story sees Mario being thrown out of his mansion by the evil Wario, and locked out with a mechanism that requires 6 golden coins to unlock.  Each coin can be obtained by visiting a different world around the map, each with its own gimmick.  These range from zones where you are inside a huge mechanical Mario, a spooky zone and one where everything is supersized, and each one contains 2 – 4 stages with the last one culminating in a boss for you to defeat.  Overall the levels aren’t that challenging to get through with a bit of practice, but they are never less than fun.  The bosses are pretty simple for the most part and follow the tried and true Nintendo formula of 3 hits to kill them.

Power ups in this game include the familiar fire flower and a carrot that gives you bunny ears.  This allows you to glide by flapping said ears – it’s not true flight but it does prove handy throughout the levels by letting you extend the length of your jumps.  Each stage has a bell at the end of it and should you manage to reach and ring it you get to play a mini game where you can earn extra lives or power ups.  Also, in this game collecting coins don’t give you an extra life automatically upon collecting 100 of them – instead there is another mini game on the world map where you can pay 50, 200, 500 or 1000 coins to play.  The more you pay out, the higher the chance of receiving multiple extra lives.

Once you get all of the golden coins from the bosses you can then open the front door to the mansion and confront Wario, but only after getting through a very tricky final stage.  Should you run out of lives all of the golden coins that you’ve retrieved will be taken away and you will have to go and get them back again from the bosses.  This can be annoying, but is also fairly easily avoided by keeping your supply of extra lives stocked up through the mini games.  You can replay levels you’ve already completed to earn more coinage so this is the best way to avoid a game over.

Overall the game isn’t very long – I managed to finish the whole thing during one train ride which takes about 1 hour 45 minutes.  The final stage was quite challenging but a little persistence and skill will see you through to the end.  Mario has no shortage of classic platformers in his back catalogue – games which are still worshipped by those intelligent enough to appreciate their brilliance.  Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins may not quite live up to the majesty of the likes of Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy, but it is still a fantastic game in its own right and deserves to be in anybody’s Game Boy collection.

Verdict: If you have never played it and you love Mario games, you really owe it to yourself to track down a copy.

The video below was not produced by me, but by a chap who goes by the name of PeanutButterGamer - he has a ton of excellent content on his YouTube channel so if you like the SML2 vid below please make sure to head over to his channel and subscribe!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Random Retro Round Up #1: The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout (NES)


Welcome to the first in a brand new series of articles - the Random Retro Round Up.  This first "season" will be covering games on the 8-bit consoles, so the NES, Master System, Game Boy, Lynx, Game Gear and TurboGrafx-16 will each have their time in the spotlight.  I may even extend this to include computers as well, I haven't quite decided yet.

Anyway, the format is this: every week I will play a game from a particular format chosen at random with the help of random.org and a list of all the games that were released for that system. First up is the NES, a console that I am not all that familiar with due to the fact that when it was at its height of popularity I was into the Commodore 64 for my gaming needs.  I played the obvious titles like the Super Mario trilogy and a few others such as Duck Tales at a friends house after school, but there are hundreds of games that I literally know nothing about.  As such I am really looking forward to unearthing some classic games (or perhaps the complete opposite).  So without further ado, let's take a look at the first game...

Title: The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout
Developer: Kemco
Year Released: 1990

Upon first firing up this game my initial thoughts were "oh no, not another platformer".  After all these were all over the place during the 8 and 16 bit eras, and many of them were of questionable quality.  Everybody was desperate to get a piece of Mario's action, yet most developers lack the skill to design something that even approaches the brilliance of a Miyamoto game. Thankfully though, B4 (as I'm going to refer to it) isn't too far off the mark.

Taking control of WB's famous rabbit, you hop your way across many different worlds, each made up of around 4 levels.  Scattered around these levels are carrots, which can be spent on playing a bonus game between the levels (basically bingo).  When these carrots are collected, they become WB blocks and can then be walked on. Many of the level layouts involve collecting carrots first and then using said blocks to accesss higher areas.  This game has its own equivalent of warp pipes too, the form of which changes from world to world (in world 1 they are tree stumps).  A typical stage is made up of multiple areas and some of them end with a boss fight against another famous Looney Toons character (who are all pissed off that they didn't get an invite to Bug's 50th birthday party).  Most of these fights are fairly trivial except for Tweety Pie who hides in a bush and can't be it until he pops out, the little bastard.

As well as the standard jump, Bugs has a mallet that he can use against the weird and wonderful enemies that roam the stages.  I'm not even sure what some of these things are supposed to be - I can definitely recognise a sentient alarm clock when I see one, but what the hell are some of the other things supposed to be? Walking luggage?  There is no duck in this game (well, apart from Daffy) which is a bit jarring at first but you get used to it after a few levels. Overall the difficulty is pretty good, it does spike a bit during level 1-2 but once I got past that I made fairly easy progress up to 2-4.  When you use all your lives you are given the option to continue which allows you to carry on from the level you got to.  That means with a little perserverence it should be possible to get to the end without too many problems.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised just how well designed and fun B4 turned out to be.  A very good start to my little random retro experiment to be sure.  Hopefully I will continue to get good games to play!

Verdict: Check it out

For more information on this game, check out the gameplay video below and be sure to visit www.nes-bit.com, an excellent resource for all things NES!