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  #1  
Old 03-16-2017, 08:06 AM
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Default OH! DAISY! Let’s Play Super Mario Land

It’sa me, Beowulf! And welcome to another installment of Let’s Play Beowulf’s Game Boy Youth.


Way back before Mario games had to be labeled “new” or came in 3-D, before Yoshi or spin jumps or save files, there was Super Mario Land, the very first portable installment of the series.

It was created before a lot of Mario “canon” had been fully realized, so there’s a lot of weirdness as they did things differently that, nowadays, we’d think were gross violations of what a “Mario” game should be. All of the monsters have wacky names. Bowser doesn’t appear at all. The princess in trouble is named Daisy. There are auto-scrolling shoot-em-up levels!


While we’re driving home from the game store, in the backseat of dad’s car, let’s have a look at the instruction manual!


An evil alien hypnotist named Tatanga? Okay, I’ll get onboard for that.










Virtually everything here is an outgrowth of the original NES Super Mario Brothers. (Did you know it’s sold over 40 million copies worldwide? I just learned that recently.) But they put a new twist on a number of things, and I’m not showing the “characters” section of the manual yet, to keep some things a secret to everybody.


On a related note, when the Nintendo Comics Series was created by Valiant Comics, their big headline titles were Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, Captain N: The Game Master, and Game Boy. The latter was basically a Super Mario Land book (for the four whole issues that were published) because at that point in Game Boy history, that was the only popular title that had a plot. The comics did include a neat trick for the actual game, which I’ll show off a bit later.

(Fun fact: One of my business school professors told a story about his investment in a comic book company as an example, and though he didn’t name any names, I will still able to figure out that it was Valiant. When I called him out about it later, he claimed to not be interested in comics at all, just that “it seemed like a good place to make money.” The fact that he thought that one could make money by investing in comic books called into question everything else this man had taught me.)






Nintendo Power also gave this game a lot of love, which shouldn’t be surprising. The Game Boy Player’s Guide gave it an entire chapter, including maps of every stage. Which makes my job easy—I just need to scan them. I’ll sprinkle in excerpts as appropriate.

It’s not a very long game—due to memory constraints at the time, it’s significantly shorter than even the original Super Mario Brothers. If you were particularly good at it, you could probably finish the game in about 20 minutes. So I’m going to have a bunch of extra material to show off, and depending on demand, we might lead into a sequel game afterwards.
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Old 03-16-2017, 08:23 AM
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Oh man I am excited for this one.
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Old 03-16-2017, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Beowulf View Post
Game Boy... was basically a Super Mario Land book (for the four whole issues that were published) because at that point in Game Boy history, that was the only popular title that had a plot. The comics did include a neat trick for the actual game, which I’ll show off a bit later.

Nintendo Power also gave this game a lot of love, which shouldn’t be surprising. The Game Boy Player’s Guide gave it an entire chapter, including maps of every stage. Which makes my job easy—I just need to scan them. I’ll sprinkle in excerpts as appropriate.
True story: I first subscribed to Nintendo Power using an insert that came in one of the Game Boy comics. This one is particular:



Most of my NES games to that point had been hand-me-downs or second-hand purchases with the extra materials missing/removed, so I had never heard of Nintendo Power before then.
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Old 03-16-2017, 08:56 AM
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The thing everyone forgets about Super Mario Land is that it was released in the US before SMB3, and that's just downright kooky to think about.

I can scarcely even remember what the world was like before SMB3 (despite being an alive and semi-cognizant child) but it probably sucked. Good thing SML was there to tide us over.
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Old 03-16-2017, 09:17 AM
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The shmup levels are probably the reason why I like shmups today.
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Old 03-16-2017, 09:37 AM
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Lots of weird things in this game. Parish has written/talked about it before and how it is this odd man out of the Franchise. Not even made by Miyamoto, jump physics are different, etc. Maybe he'll pop in?

I'll enjoy this LP but I have to say I'm a little more excited about you doing the sequel Beowulf
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Old 03-16-2017, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Falselogic View Post
Lots of weird things in this game. Parish has written/talked about it before and how it is this odd man out of the Franchise. Not even made by Miyamoto, jump physics are different, etc. Maybe he'll pop in?

I'll enjoy this LP but I have to say I'm a little more excited about you doing the sequel Beowulf
Especially if you get so far as to finish off this abandoned LP =)
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Old 03-16-2017, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Sensible View Post
The thing everyone forgets about Super Mario Land is that it was released in the US before SMB3, and that's just downright kooky to think about.

I can scarcely even remember what the world was like before SMB3 (despite being an alive and semi-cognizant child) but it probably sucked.
To be fair, that world did give us The Wizard.
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Old 03-16-2017, 11:01 AM
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True, but even that film was merely the herald for the ecstasy of living in a post-SMB3 world, which is why it's still universally regarded as a triumph of modern cinema nearly thirty years later.

So yeah anway SML sure has all the moai heads huh
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:09 PM
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Default Super Mario Land, World 1


Let’s get this party started. Welcome to Birabuto Kingdom!


World 1-1 starts out the way most Mario games do: Flat surface, blocks to jump and hit, a single Goomba heading your way. (I actually started this LP on an ignominious note: I ran into the Goomba and died trying to take screenshots.)


But wait! That’s not actually a Goomba! That’s a Chibibo!


They squish the same, though.


Shortly thereafter is a Mushroom which, as is tradition, makes you big.


If you had played SMB, nothing here would be particularly surprising: Blocks, pipes, coins; running and jumping.


The 1UP Mushrooms are instead 1UP Hearts, which I suspect is entirely due to lack of color distinctions. SML2 kept this change, despite the significant graphical upgrades.


I take another dumb hit taking screenshots, so here’s another Mushroom.


Your next indication that things are different would be from these Nobokon guys: They’re not Koopa Troopas. Their shells are bombs that will go off several second after you stomp them. (Otherwise they act the same, walking back and forth along platforms and generally getting in your way.)


A number of the bonus pipe rooms in the game are identical to this.


These Flys hop along in an arc slightly taller than Big Mario’s height. Wait until they land, then stomp them.


This level has a Super Star in it. They work pretty much exactly as usual, making Mario invincible to enemies for a few seconds. In this game, the “Can-can” music (The "Infernal Galop" from Act II, Scene 2 of Jacques Offenbach's 1858 operetta Orpheus in the Underworld) plays while the star is active.


The final screen of each level has these two doors instead of a flagpole. The lower door brings you to the next stage. The upper door gives you a bonus round first.

Also, you probably had noticed that there’s a score here. At the end of each stage, your remaining time is added to your score. The high score for each game is recorded, at least until you turn off the power.


This is the bonus round. It’s always the same: Mario randomly moves between the four floors, and the ladder moves, too. (If the ladder is in Mario’s way when they stop, he’ll automatically climb it.) You can win 1, 2 or 3 extra lives, or a Flower. The latter is a bit of a booby prize, especially if you already have one.


Here’s the Nintendo Power map of the first stage.
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:10 PM
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World 1-2 has more platforms!


Here (because I was playing badly in the first world) we find a Flower. It doesn’t change Mario’s appearance at all, but it allows him to throw superballs.


Important notes about superballs: 1. You can only have one on the screen at a time. 2. They bounce like crazy. 3. They disappear when they strike an enemy. 4. They collect coins they pass through. 5. Getting superballs does NOT provide another hit point—taking damage still turns you into small Mario.


Flying bug-men known as Bunbuns. They drop spears at you at fixed intervals. If they’re flying low, you can stomp them. You can also hit them with carefully-aimed superballs.


There are several of these little lower platforms, and there’s an invisible block with a 1-Up on this one.


A good place to practice your running, jumping and avoiding small holes in the ground.


Rudimentary platforming. We’re still easing in to everything, here.


The second instance of the lowered platform hides the 1-Up on the top level.


And some blocks that fall when you step on them, in a place where they don’t matter yet: If you miss the bonus, you still complete the level. Which is a clever way to mix a tutorial with an expert bonus.


Map.
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  #12  
Old 03-21-2017, 12:11 PM
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World 1-3 is very Egyptian-themed. (Despite not having figured out how to make the snazzy background effects we saw in games like Gargoyle’s Quest, they still managed to make the place look exciting and decorated.)


In the pipes are Pakkun Flowers. Like classic piranha plants, they don’t come out if you stand on or next to their pipe.


Falling blocks are likely to catch you off guard if you haven’t memorized where they are.


Notice those coins up at the top? Another expert bonus. If you can figure out how to get up there, you can get all the coins.


These lion-men, called Gao, stay in one place and spit fireballs at a 45 degree angle either upwards or downwards, depending on where Mario stands. You can safely stomp the lions; the fireballs must be avoided.


This is a really noteworthy part of the level: If you arrive here as Big Mario, you can destroy some blocks for coins and take the upper route. If you arrive as Small Mario, you can go through the lower path to a ton of coins and a Mushroom.


Note that those lions are just background, nothing dangerous.


I just jumped over the fragile blocks, rather than dealing with them at all.


And our boss battle, King Totomesu.


This basically goes like a SMB Bowser fight, complete with jumping over him to hit the axe/anchor that holds the bridge up and dumping him in the lava. Alternately, if you have superballs, it’s just four of them to take out the boss, which is very convenient.


Whelp, looks like we saved Daisy. That was easy! Now, to…


Uh-oh.


For the record, I have on good authority that the princess in Super Mario Land was indeed called “Daisy” in the original Japanese release; this is not a mistranslation of Princess Peach/Toadstool.


You automatically get the bonus game after beating a boss.


This is the map we just finished.

Overall, there’s nothing in World 1 that someone who played the original SMB would be terribly surprised by. It reassures you that this is a classic Mario experience with only a few twists. The real meat of new material comes later.

On to World 2! Next time!
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  #13  
Old 03-21-2017, 12:37 PM
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I lusted after this game for years in grade school, my gaze transfixed whenever a kid brought his GB to school with a copy. "A real Mario game I can play anywhere?!"

It's interesting how SML1 tries to retain SMB's relative screen dimensions with its tiny-ass sprites. Even as much as I love Six Golden Coins, the platforming always felt so cramped in comparison.
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:43 PM
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I'm so thrilled that this thread exists and I can't believe I didn't notice it over the past week. I just recently found the manual for my original copy of the game and was leafing through it fondly last night. I used to draw little comics of the World 1 enemies wandering around and getting into trouble. I haven't even read your post yet. I'm going to do that now.
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Old 03-21-2017, 01:08 PM
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It's interesting that people frequently point out this game's bizarre enemy names, because they're largely attributable to a lack of localization rather than the intention of the developers. When Super Mario Bros. came to the West, Nintendo paid special care to bestowing enemies with names that would be memorable to an English-speaking audience, like Goomba, Koopa Troopa, and Bullet Bill. Super Mario Land is what it looks like when that effort isn't made.

So you see names like Bunbun and Gao—Japanese onomatopoeia that fails to scan (they might have gone with something like "Buzz Buzz" and "Rawr"). Some enemies return from Super Mario Bros. but are disguised by their Japanese names: Pakkun Flower is just the original name for Piranha Plant. Other names include references to established enemies that are unrecognizable because they don't recall their localization: See Chibibo (a "chibi Kuribo," which is to say a small Goomba) and Nokobon (a Nokonoko, or Koopa Troopa, crossed with a bomb). Others, like Dragonzamasu, just come off as alphabet soup. Exceptions like Super Mario Land make you appreciate the localization standards Nintendo holds to most of their other games.
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Old 03-21-2017, 01:12 PM
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Super Mario Land's approximately 8 pieces of Hip Tanaka music are the best Mario songs, fight me.
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Old 03-21-2017, 01:17 PM
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Truly a tragedy that there was nobody localizing hard enough to refer to them as "goombinos"
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Old 03-21-2017, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishi View Post
It's interesting that people frequently point out this game's bizarre enemy names, because they're largely attributable to a lack of localization rather than the intention of the developers. When Super Mario Bros. came to the West, Nintendo paid special care to bestowing enemies with names that would be memorable to an English-speaking audience, like Goomba, Koopa Troopa, and Bullet Bill. Super Mario Land is what it looks like when that effort isn't made.
The manual even refers to Daisy as "Daisy Princess."

I remember reading an early strategy guide for Super Mario 64 which was published before Nintendo had finished localizing it, so all of the enemies still had the Japanese names. Similarly weird.

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Super Mario Land's approximately 8 pieces of Hip Tanaka music are the best Mario songs, fight me.
Instead of fighting you, I offer a truce and a handshake and perhaps a cup of tea over the Chai Kingdom theme song.
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Old 03-22-2017, 11:03 AM
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me and my 3 siblings played this game probably hundreds of times collectively. On long trips, we just would pass the game boy around each time someone died
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Old 03-24-2017, 05:24 AM
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Default Super Mario Land, World 2


Welcome to Muda Kingdom. This is the island/water area. Note that, as per usual, falling into the water in this sort of stage will kill you instantly. There’s actually a good reason for that: Unlike every other Mario game, this Mario can’t swim! When we actually go underwater, he’ll need a submarine.


Here’s a little preview of the enemies we’ll be meeting in this Kingdom.


These skeleton fish, aka Honhen, jump straight up out of the water at regular intervals.


They’re actually not terribly dangerous, because if they jump up into your feet, they die and you’re fine.


The platforming steps up a little here, but it’s a gradual progression.


This is another possible bonus area layout, and having superballs makes it really easy to collect all the coins in record time.


Then back up and at it.


Another flower, and then across this bridge. It doesn’t collapse or anything; the only threat are the Honhen.


Goombinos (I love that name) join the jumping fish here.


This level is uncomplicated, as compared to some others.


Shortly after, we meet this seahorse, known as a Yurarin Boo. It jumps like the fish, but pauses to shoot a fireball at the top. It’s much harder to get them to jump directly into your feet.


A third bonus layout; this one has a hidden block at the end of the first row, so you can get up to the top and escape.


The blocks full of coins actually indicate that’s the case by changing block type after you hit them once. I have no idea if that’s intentional or a glitch.


Neat block arrangement, here.


There’s a 1-up to be had, if you stop to look for it.
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Old 03-24-2017, 05:26 AM
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Those funny-shaped blocks are the kind that fall after you step on them once.


Map of World 2-1.


World 2-2 gets a new block style. Actually, virtually all of the levels are visually distinct in some way, which is an impressive feat given the lack of color. They very clearly cared about making sure there was something to distinguish each stage.


These Mekabon robots are pretty neat. They can throw their heads at you, and the heads travel in a boomerang pattern back to them. A single superball will take one down, though, or you can stomp both the head and the body.


There’s a fair amount of platforming to be done here. It doesn’t feel hard to me, though in retrospect it probably is pretty tricky. I’m just used to it, having played this game periodically for decades.


Remember how I said bonus stages repeat? Here this one is again.


This stage also gives you the option of taking the upper or lower path, depending on if you’re small or super Mario.


Did I talk about Stars last time? Yeah, I must have.


The Yurarin Boos will return to pester you.


Here’s another bonus stage repeat, only this time, the hidden block is in a different spot, likely to freak you out.


And a more complicated falling-block path to the bonus door.


End World 2-2. Here’s the map.
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Old 03-24-2017, 05:27 AM
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And now for one of the greatest Mario levels of all time: The Submarine Shmup level!


Yep, in an amazing move never seen before or since, Mario climbs into a vehicle for some side-scrolling shooter action. In this stage, Mushrooms still make you big, but flowers do nothing. You can’t stomp enemies or break blocks as usual, but you can shoot to break blocks and kill things.


Torion fish appear here; they charge forward mindlessly. They tend to come in swarms of three.


Honhen reappear in this level, now in their proper element. (…I guess? They’re skeletons, so the necessity of water is debatable.)


These seahorses are simply Yurarin, and don’t shoot fireballs. They take two shots to kill.


Upon reflection, WTF is up with that UFO in the background?


Being big can actually be a major hindrance in this stage, because of these small spaces in the blocks. You can shoot yourself a wider passage, of course, but if you mess that up and get stuck between the scrolling screen and a block, you die.


These Gunion octopi don’t move, but if you kill them (two shots) they release two fireballs that float towards you. This can be a rude surprise if you’re trying to kill one so you can go through the space it was occupying.


The coins know who you are!
Right before the boss, there’s a mushroom, which I apparently missed the screenshot of.


The boss, Dragonzamasu, is this giant seahorse that moves up and down the right side of the screen, shooting the small fireballs at you. The large one, which according to the manual is a jellyfish named Tamao, bounces around and is invulnerable.


When you shoot the seahorse enough times, the enemies all explode, and you can shoot through this lower set of blocks to reach the key/anchor/switch.


The map. This makes things like the “MARIO” coins much clearer.


…we’re sorry Mario. We’ll try again next time.
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  #23  
Old 03-24-2017, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Sensible View Post
I can scarcely even remember what the world was like before SMB3 (despite being an alive and semi-cognizant child) but it probably sucked.
It wasn't bad. The original Mario was mindblowing, and I was too young to realize it was the Reagan administration.
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Old 03-24-2017, 06:48 AM
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One thing I really appreciate about this game is how every level feels like a unique environment. SMB1 every level is built out of the same few basic elements and feels kind of samey. Hell, some of the underwater levels are just copy and pasted!

Here, each level is its own thing. They follow the same basic 'beats' as SMB1 but extra effort was made so that each kingdom was its own environment. They may have only had room for twelve levels but they really put effort into it to make each level memorable.
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Old 03-24-2017, 07:30 AM
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The spritework for this game is understated in its brilliance. Everything reads just fine despite being composed of mere handfuls of four-tone monochrome pixels.

I assume R&D1 really wanted to push against the idea that handheld games couldn't match a console experience with Super Mario Land.
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beowulf;2310580[IMG
http://i1300.photobucket.com/albums/ag95/gmbeowulf/Super%20Mario%20Land%20LP/Mario%20Land_world2v2%2045_zpsnk4wdoj8.png[/IMG]
Upon reflection, WTF is up with that UFO in the background?
It's an "Adamski type," named for George Adamski, who claimed to photograph such a flying saucer in 1952.





Somehow or another, this design became rooted in Japanese pop culture and remains the default image of flying saucers in Japanese media, which of course means it shows up in a lot of games.

As for why it's parked underwater...I assume it's just an unusual yet recognizable image to make things more interesting to look at, like the Nazca Lines in Xevious.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:54 AM
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Mario had to scrap his spaceship in favor of a submarine, so he ditched it underwater.

It took me a few glances to realize that he begins each stage of level 2 coming from a UFO.
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:02 PM
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It makes more sense once you see the final boss, but the implication is that Totanga (sp?) shot down the UFO I think.
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:47 PM
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It took me a few glances to realize that he begins each stage of level 2 coming from a UFO.
It's nice to see him going back to his roots in Super Mario Odyssey.


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Old 03-25-2017, 05:35 AM
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This is the only game I ever wrote a guide for (unless you count LPs), which I did in pencil on A5 notepaper and sent in to Nintendo Magazine System (the Australian Nintendo magazine) in probably 1993 or so. I described how to find all the hidden lives and paths to the roof and whatever else that I knew of.

They didn't publish it.
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