One of the first lessons I remember being taught about storytelling is that “…and then he woke up, and it was all a dream” is the worst of all possible ways to end a story, a wretched crime against the entire concept of stories, because if you end your tale by revealing to your audience that everything they have experienced thus far wasn’t real, then the whole exercise is rendered an utter waste of time. As if the expectation is that your prospective audience could only possibly enjoy a story if they were working under the delusion that every word of it was absolutely true. In fairness, the real lesson was probably supposed to be more along the lines of ‘your ending should be in some way set up by the preceding events’ than ‘it is bad to acknowledge the artifice of fiction within that fiction’, but this subtle nuance was definitely lost in translation somewhere along the way.
Category Archives: Game Boy
Iain wrote this one.
It’s an interesting time to be looking at a Nintendo portable game, in 2017 and less than a week before they Switch off the separation between portable and home console and try to consolidate the best of both. With Super Mario Land, we looked at a simulacrum of Mario whose appeal was in being at least that, on the go. At some point well in the future we’ll see the New Super Mario Bros. series elide the differences to be the same reliable nostalgia trip whatever you’re playing it on. But here is a is a game which is not port, not knock-off, but adaptation.
From a modern perspective, there’s a distinct oddness to Super Mario Land. Things don’t quite behave the way you expect them to. Everything is just a little bit off. Koopas explode like they’re Bob-ombs; 1UPs are represented by hearts instead of differently coloured mushrooms; collecting a star does grant you invincibility, but it plays the Infernal Gallop instead of the usual invincibility tune; and most bizarrely of all, in two of its twelve levels, Super Mario Land stops being a Mario game altogether and turns into a side-scrolling shooter instead. But taken in the context of its own time, as players in 1990 could not help but do, this sense of unease is pretty thoroughly erased. Put simply, it was only the third Super Mario game to be released, and it couldn’t possibly be weirder than Super Mario Bros. 2.