Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

In spite of both the big and small steps it takes in the direction of getting away from comparisons to the giants that Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World are, the game simply cannot escape them. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is fun, and it occasionally exhibits signs of great originality and excellence, as it does in its stunning scenario variety and in its absence of linearity. Still, the fact that it does not really shine where it matters the most – that is, in its level design – and that its focus lies on gameplay that is way too similar to that of its console counterparts holds it back considerably. It is, by all means, a major improvement over the content presented in its prequel; and it appeared as a sign that the Super Mario line of handheld games was advancing quickly. Nonetheless, a major burst of creativity was still missing in order for the saga to truly find its footing in the portable world.

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Super Mario Land

Based around a format that, throughout history, has time and time again proven itself to be quite efficient, it is hard to call Super Mario Land a bad game. And its mesmerizing commercial success at the time of its release certainly shows Nintendo did quite well in bringing the world’s most popular platforming series to a handheld system for the first time ever. Nonetheless, although its status as the game that opened up the floodgates for that sort of transition is preserved, the value of its gameplay has been heavily eroded as time has passed. In spite of how it is certainly thematically weird, its oddity is not enough to make it remarkable; and despite featuring a couple of noteworthy detours, they have neither the prominence nor the frequency to turn Super Mario Land into a must-play. For those reasons, the plumber’s first portable entry stands solely as a curiosity for the character’s most avid fans; because anyone else is bound to be rather unimpressed by it.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Seasons

Similarly to its counterpart, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is a considerable step-up for the franchise’s handheld line of games following the impressive Link’s Awakening. And that is because even though it is built over the same framework as that game, which proved without a drop of doubt that the adventures of the hero in green could work in a smaller scale, it is not merely satisfied with achieving greatness through similar means. As such, it chooses to evolve and take risks by bringing puzzle-solving into its overworld via a remarkable mechanic that allows Link to control the seasons; by exploring new items that are smartly used in the creation of refreshing challenges; and by giving its impressively designed dungeons an action-focused touch in filling them up with rooms where killing enemies and avoiding traps work as the main course. And those pieces come together to form a unique and charming quest that still stands as one of the series’ strongest outings.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Ages

Perhaps understanding the stellar quality of the 2-D efforts that came before it, Oracle of Ages is – therefore – not satisfied with being just another The Legend of Zelda game that uses a top-down perspective to give players a glimpse into its world. Given that Link’s Awakening had already solidly proved that adventures as big as those of the hero in green could work on a handheld system, it is clear that Oracle of Ages sets out to expand upon that game’s achievements. And it does so marvelously well not only by utilizing its time-traveling mechanics to bring puzzle-solving out of the dungeons and into the overworld, but also by magnifying the testing nature of its mazes in shifting the focus of individual rooms from combats and switch-pressing to riddles of a more demanding nature. And through marrying this inclination for puzzles with the joy of exploring the colorful world of Labrynna and the pleasure of meeting the many amusing characters that are involved in its time-related conundrums, the greatness of Oracle of Ages is fully realized.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Link’s Awakening has eight dungeons, a great overworld, an amusing tone that fits its simplicity like a glove, a plot that can be mysterious and touching, and a good amount of extra content. Therefore, it is unquestionably a worthy portable reproduction – one that cannot be missed – of The Legend of Zelda experience found on consoles. And it achieves such while sporting visuals and music that, easily ranking among the system’s best, are worthy of the franchise. In fact, Link’s Awakening is so impressive in its handling of the constraints of the system it was made for that the hardware limitations of the Game Boy are hardly felt at all. However, despite the resounding and undeniable conquest of marking the first time ever a Nintendo franchise was effectively and greatly translated to a handheld, Link’s Awakening fails to reach the same stature of the saga’s most remarkable installments for the simple reason that it lacks a truly defining trait.

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Shantae

The culmination of that exploration, and the peak of Shantae as a game, comes in the four dungeons that need to be found and cleared. Inside those, players must navigate a series of rooms that strike a flawless balance between tight platforming; a good deal of battling, including nice – albeit a bit too easy – bosses and mini-bosses; and puzzle-solving. In the best Zelda fashion, those mazes have plenty of locked doors and corridors that cannot be accessed until Shantae tracks down the dungeon’s core technique, transforming the act of walking around the place itself into an exercise in reasoning.

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