100. Super Mario Land

Super Mario Land
Game Boy
Nintendo R&D1
1989

This game is a mindfuck. On first glance, It looks like Super Mario Bros. You run and leap from left to right. You jump on koopas and goombas. You slide down pipes. You collect coins, mushrooms, fire flowers and stars. Almost every major element from Super Mario Bros. is present in this game.

However, as you play this game, it soon becomes clear that this is not a “real” Mario game. Everything is familiar, but nothing is correct. Mario can slip through tiny cracks, Koopas explode, and fireballs ricochet at odd angles. The game lacks the weight and tension of movement at the core of Super Mario Bros. Even the look of the game is off. It has a distinct style that is Marioesqe without being Mario.

Super Mario Land isn’t “Mario”. It is “The team who made Metroid’s take on Mario.” That’s kind of special. Even though the game itself is only so-so, I think the idea of letting different teams do crazy interpretations of Super Mario Bros. is a great one. When you let other guys play in your sandbox, you end up with a game where koopas explode and Mario drives a submarine. It’s a crazy funhouse view of Mario, the polar opposite of the sterile, uninspired, overreverent piece of crap that is New Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. is the most important video game in the canon. I want a hundred playable reinterpretations of Super Mario Bros. I suspect I ain’t gonna get ‘em.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.