Note: I’ve recently learned that there have been updated versions of this homebrew released with graphical and control fixes, along with improved features closer to the Game Boy original Super Mario Land. This review and gameplay video has been updated to reflect the version 1.2 of New Super Mario Land as of 2/26/2020.
So I came across this little homebrew completely by accident, a SNES homebrew version of the Gameboy classic Super Mario Land. I had never played SML before or had a giant brick Gameboy save for playing emulators back in the day or borrowing a friend’s (I think that’s how i finished the og Link’s Awakening and Pokemon Red). Finding the rom, I fired it up on my phone emulator and had a blast with it! This project was originally a homebrew of SML as a Christmas gift for the anonymous programmer’s friends. Of course this being 2019 the rom got dumped online and can easily be flashed to a cart, or played on your favorite SNES emulator. i recommend Snes9x or Bsnes. Reading the below articles you can find out how to get a copy. I won’t be linking the rom here for security purposes. Late January 2020 an update to the homebrew was released as version 1.2, fixing gameplay elements and improving the boss difficulty closer to the original game. I won’t be hosting a link directly to a copy of the rom here.
So the question is, how does it play? I started streaming recently, and I’ve wanted to redo my previous gameplay video. Which I’ve included embedded with this post, I did poorly. First run got up to level 3 before game over, then somehow got lucky to least level 4 before a second game over. I’ll take it. I never played the original SML so I don’t have much to compare it to.
The superball replaces the Fire Flowers in SML, but you still get the superball from Fire Flowers. The superball bounces off walls and ricochets a few times before disappearing. So you can’t just walk up to something and hit it, you gotta jump since they travel on a diagonal motion. So sometimes you gotta figure out how to get the superball to ricochet off the walls properly to hit an enemy in an enclosed area. The graphics are gorgeous and look like something between Donkey Kong Country and New SMB for the WiiU, and the backgrounds are very detailed especially in the Egyptian pyramid levels. These graphics are DS levels of quality! The bonus game between levels was included too! The play control and gameplay are much improved in the v1.2 of this homebrew.
The original version the play control can be janky at times, resulting in missing jumps or getting hit by enemies, or even accidentally wall jumping/sliding which take time to get used to. The controls feel like they want to be a Mario game, but it’s not polished enough like a true Mario title. It feels more raw like playing Mega Man 1 after you’ve played the more polished MM2-6 titles. The difficulty for the bosses was turned up also, so you would find yourself dying a lot due to something unexpected. The music are remixes of the normal various level music from Super Mario Land, which you may find yourself whistling to yourself once it gets stuck in your head.
After playing the v1.2 for awhile, and then recently finishing it in one run on-stream (which surprised me!), I have to say these improvements are terrific! The play control is tighter, though I still kinda hate the wall slide and wall jump aspect. Music is the same, and Mario doesn’t yell YAHOO every single time he jumps. The boss fights seem easier too, more down to that of the Game Boy title from my understanding. Now I can really up my review and stars of this fun little project. I highly recommend this to any Mario fan looking for something new. I do want to play the original SML on-stream sometime, I’ll likely play the colorized hack of SML along with SML 2 at some point. I’d suggest look around around on archive.org for the 1.2 version of new Super Mario Land. Highly recommended.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Gameplay video of the full game done on 2/26/2020 on Twitch:
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