Monday, 3 May 2010

Super Stario Land

No really.

We're off to the village of the Atari ST this time, to discover the wonders of yet another unlicensed Mario clone. This one, titled "Super Stario Land" was sold in the UK in about 1995-ish by a group known as "Top Byte Software". There appears to be a Christmas version too... but I'll leave that to another day.

Things have grown up a bit since the likes of Super Boy or Great Giana Sisters. Now the focus isn't on Super Mario Bros. - it's on Super Mario Land, the 1989 Game Boy game. It's also been heavily inspired by Super Mario World and Super Mario Land 2, the stuff that would go on to fuel fangames in the years that followed. But according to the internet this isn't just a fangame, it's a commercial title, most likely sold for a very cheap price over the phone. 1995 was getting late in the Atari ST's lifespan, so I suspect that's why nobody noticed.

Super Stario Land is a standard Mario platformer. Ctrl is jump, Alt is run, and left and right are handled by... B and N. There are two notable things about this game though: one, it actually works and plays like it should do, and two, the levels are randomly generated... sort of. Though each level has a set theme, large chunks of the level are spawned at random, inspired by sections of the Game Boy game. As such, there's a lot of repetition with the scenery and obstacles, and though it also means Super Stario Land will give you a unique experience each time you boot up the game, it's not a very challenging experience as the side-effect is that levels can't be too complicated. You can't back-track or enter pipes, making the game far more linear than official titles.

The graphics are basic, but so were Super Mario World's so it's very difficult to judge if this is a bad thing. One thing Super Statio Land does do is attempt to emulate the pixelated screen transitions found in Super Mario World (and a number of other SNES titles). I've not seen this before outside of Nintendo's work, especially on hardware such as the Atari ST. Some of the original graphics look a little... odd. The player sprite for example looks like he's been dragged out of a Peanuts comic, and the enemies are on par with those found in old Super Mario Bros. hacks. However, I'd be lying if I said I didn't like the "Atari blocks". Sadly there is no music outside of the title screen, but the sound effects are nice.

As per usual there's not much to say about this game because it's not been documented anywhere, just some blank entries on a couple of Atari ST online databases. A shame, because for once this is a nice game, and quite lengthy too.


  1. This raised my eyebrow at least.

    Something about the graphics appeal more than Mario the real one - Guess it's the fact that the characters look 5% cool... which is more than Mario!

    ~ JSH

  2. Great game. On the real Atari St you could choose music on/off with the F9 key

  3. Great game. On the real Atari St you could choose music on/off with the F9 key