Super Mario Land 2: The 10 Weirdest Things (Besides Wario)

6. MARIO’S TRIP TO THE SPACE ZONE PREDATES MARIO GALAXY BY 15 YEARS

Before Rosalina, the Lumas, and the Comet Observatory were even twinkles in the eyes of EAD Tokyo, Mario donned a slightly baggy space suit and trekked out to the stars himself. Although the Space Zone spanned only three short stages, Mario tangled with Tatanga (Super Mario Land’s final boss) in a significantly easier rematch and walked directly on a star without being incinerated or crushed by its gravity, suggesting some deals with the devil that may be better left unquestioned.

7. IT HAS A SHOUT-OUT TO A 50-YEAR-OLD NINTENDO TOY

The final level of the Mario Zone, a giant statue of Mario navigated on the inside from the bottom up, is made of blocks most people would likely reflexively describe as Legos, but in one part of the level you find a block with the initials “N&B” inscribed on it. Turns out N&B was a similar type of block Nintendo created in 1968 to compete with Lego. As with many early Nintendo creations, Gunpei Yokoi had a hand in their development, but people considered them generally sort of crappy, and the brand petered out fairly quickly. Nevertheless, the name lives on in SML2’s subtle memorial.

8. A WALKING HOCKEY MASK WITH A KNIFE IN ITS HEAD

Mario’s ghost house stages have only ever been at worst benignly spooky, and the Pumpkin Zone, a whole world devoted to such mild frights, is for the most part no exception. The key words there being “for the most part.” We know Bowser is a gentle but firm enforcer of parental controls, but Wario clearly imposes no such filters on his minions. I suppose we’re lucky none of them chose to take inspiration from something like, say, The Hills Have Eyes. It’s a safe bet that the odds of someone sneaking this in while Miyamoto was on a business trip outside the country are in the neighborhood of 1:1.

9. THERE’S A LEVEL WHERE MARIO RUNS AROUND IN A GIANT MECHANICAL VERSION OF HIS BALLSACK

Okay, I know I sound 12 years old, but please indulge me for a second. We’ve already established how in the Mario Zone, his body is a wonderland. Its second level takes place generally in Mario’s midsectional region, in which Mario walks almost exclusively on spheres that could possibly be argued to abstractly resemble certain parts of the male anatomy. Sure, it’s probably just easier to say it’s his stomach and those are bubbles — Occam’s razor and all that. But why you gotta yuck my yums? Headcanon is the true spice of life.

10. YOU GET TO CHOOSE THE ORDER IN WHICH YOU TACKLE WORLDS

Big deal, you say. Mega Man games had already been letting you do that for five years at that point, even the goofball first one. But there’s no Mario game that allows quite the freedom of choice that Super Mario Land 2 does, even the ones that are celebrated for exactly that quality. Super Mario World’s branching paths are really just permutating offshoots along a distinct straight line, and even any given run of Super Mario 64 always has to start with the same limited smattering of levels. But Super Mario Land 2 is truly a treat for the à la carte gamer. Between the first level and the last level, SML2’s order is entirely up to you. It’s yet another bold choice in a game that seemed to make them effortlessly, and just one of the many delicious subtleties that secure its reputation as truly unique among Mario adventures.

The author of this article, Jesse “roundthewheel” Eubanks is the creator of Deep Space Spines, a project dedicated to writing about Star Trek’s non-canon novels!

2 thoughts on “Super Mario Land 2: The 10 Weirdest Things (Besides Wario)

  1. Nice article. This is a pretty great game that is sort of trapped on the GameBoy. You can purchase it for the 3DS from the eshop, and I recommend doing so. My only complaint with it is that it’s pretty short, but a GameBoy cart can only handle so much. This feels like a nice candidate for a remake like Metroid II as it has some fun game mechanics. The bunny ears power-up remains my favorite flying Mario to this day.

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