Super Mario Land DX ROM Hack Shows What Game Boy Could Have Looked Like

It was about time (Mario Time) that Super Mario Land for the original Game Boy was revisited. The game served as the entry point into the world of portable gaming for millions, and it was an early example of the type of adventure players could expect from a handful of AA batteries. The original Game Boy system itself may have only been able to display four shades of grey, however, that never stopped players of Super Mario Land from imagining what the game would have looked like in stunning color. Now thanks to [toruzz] we no longer have to imagine, because their Super Mario Land DX ROM Hack does just that…and then some.

The Super Mario Land DX ROM hack adheres to the Game Boy Color’s 16-bit color palette, so it actually runs on real hardware. No changes to the gameplay were made and it also runs in the native 10:9 aspect ratio for the Game Boy. According to the patch readme file, it is recommended to use a legally sourced dump of the 1.0 version of Super Mario Land and utilize Lunar IPS to apply the patch. Additionally a CRC check sum is provided to ensure everyone is working from the same starting point.

Super Mario Land was a launch title for the Game Boy in 1989, but there was another handheld game system that released that year as well (the Atari Lynx). The Lynx featured a full color backlit LCD display, so it was not as if handheld game systems of the era were restricted to being monochromatic. Granted the Lynx came with a price tag nearly twice that of the Game Boy, but a transformative ROM hack such as the Super Mario Land DX one can serve almost as an alternate history. An alternate history that we all can experience now be it on a desktop or in true portable form.

To see the Super Mario Land DX ROM Hack in motion, there is the gameplay video from YouTube user Vincent Hernandez below:

9 thoughts on “Super Mario Land DX ROM Hack Shows What Game Boy Could Have Looked Like

  1. I have had only the chance to see the first minute. Impressive work, I miss something though: when you take the flower, shouldn’t the colthes change to say… white? I mean, instead of remaining the same colout, i.e. red. Apart from that, I repeat, awesome!

    1. Because they’re actually not fireballs: Super Mario Land has “super flowers” and “superballs,” not fireballs. The game’s not set in the Mushroom Kingdom, so things are slightly different.

  2. I was watching a documentary about the game boy recently, and they suggested that almost all the hardware compromises, like the 4 color screen, was for sake of battery life. The other handheld consoles looked better, but only gave a few hours of gameplay on 4 AAs. The Gameboy could go all week.

    1. When I was 10 or 11 or so, I had a Sega Game Gear that I’d saved up for, and two of my cousins had Game Boys. I used to brag about my color screen, until once we were traveling with my grandparents and we were each given fresh batteries but told that was all we got. 4 hours into the 7 hour drive, mine was dead, and my cousins continued to play for the remainder of the trip. Although on the way back, we discovered that when the batteries would no longer run my Game Gear, they’d still run the Game Boy for another hour or two, so we’d put the fresh batteries in the Game Gear and take turns with it, and then when it was dead we’d put the batteries in the Game Boys and the fresh ones that were ear marked for the Game Boys would run my Game Gear and everyone was happy. Next trip my cousins had each gotten the plug-in rechargeable battery packs for their Game Boys, and I had gotten some add-on packs for the Game Gear that used C size rechargeables that would run it much longer. Few years ago I found it in a box, dug it out, and played some Sonic 2, discovered that modern rechargeable batteries run it a LOT longer than the 90s ones did lol

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