Super Mario Land (1989)

by Christopher
6 minutes read


Super Mario Land brought Mario’s platforming adventures to the Game Boy, offering a unique mix of traditional gameplay and new features like shoot-’em-up levels. Despite some criticisms for its length and stylistic choices, the game is celebrated for its role in expanding the Mario franchise and the portable gaming landscape.


Super Mario Land (1989) marks a significant milestone in the history of video games as Mario’s first adventure on the Game Boy. This game not only extended the reach of one of Nintendo’s most iconic characters into the realm of portable gaming but also introduced a new damsel in distress, Princess Daisy, adding depth to the Mario universe.


Super Mario Land, released in 1989, is a platform video game developed and published by Nintendo as a launch game for its Game Boy handheld game console. This game marked the first time a Mario platform game was released for a handheld console.

The game is set in Sarasaland, a new environment depicted in line art, and introduces Princess Daisy, a new character serving as the damsel-in-distress in place of Princess Peach. Unlike the Mushroom Kingdom, Sarasaland is a unique setting with its own array of enemies and challenges.

The game begins with Tatanga, a malevolent alien with powers of hypnosis, invading Sarasaland and kidnapping Princess Daisy. Mario, our heroic plumber, sets out on a quest to rescue her. The game’s plot deviates from the traditional Mario storyline, offering a fresh perspective and new gameplay elements.

Super Mario Land consists of twelve levels spanning four different worlds. The gameplay is similar to that of the 1985 Super Mario Bros., but resized for the smaller device’s screen. As Mario, the player advances to the end of each level by moving to the right and jumping across platforms to avoid enemies and pitfalls. Unlike other Mario games, the screen only scrolls to the right, and sections of a level that have passed off screen cannot be revisited.

In addition to the platforming levels, Super Mario Land also features two Gradius-style shooter levels. These levels add a unique twist to the gameplay, providing a change of pace from the traditional platforming action.

Interestingly, Super Mario Land was the first Mario game to be developed without the involvement of Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Instead, the game was developed by Nintendo R&D, with Gunpei Yokoi, the creator of the Game Boy, serving as the guiding producer.

Despite its short length, Super Mario Land was a commercial success, selling over 18 million copies. It was lauded by critics for its successful transition of the Mario franchise to the handheld console, although some noted its short length. The game’s soundtrack was particularly praised.

Super Mario Land was later re-released for the Nintendo 3DS via Virtual Console in 2011. This version of the game features some presentation tweaks, but the core gameplay and plot remain the same.


Mario, the game’s protagonist, seeks to rescue Princess Daisy. Tatanga, the spaceman antagonist, serves as the primary villain. Along the journey, Mario encounters various enemies and bosses, each adding a layer of challenge to his quest.


Super Mario Land follows the traditional platforming gameplay with a twist. Players navigate Mario through levels, jumping on enemies and collecting power-ups. The game distinguishes itself with shoot-’em-up levels, where Mario pilots a submarine and an aeroplane, adding variety to the gameplay.


Super Mario Land stands as a testament to Nintendo’s ability to innovate within its established franchises, delivering a memorable and engaging portable gaming experience. While it may stray from the series’ roots in some aspects, it remains a beloved classic that introduced the world to the potential of handheld gaming adventures with Mario.

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