A Christmas gift from Game Boy ROM hackers: Super Mario Land 2 in color
The Christmas holiday season is traditionally a great time to kick back and catch up on forgotten video games, and usually, we recommend doing so with majorly discounted video game sales. That’s still the case (and every platform, from Steam to Nintendo eShop to Xbox Live to PlayStation Network to GoG, seems to have a sale going on right now), but this year’s coolest holiday offer cannot be purchased: an out-of-nowhere ROM hack for one of Nintendo’s best original Game Boy games.
Today, a classic-game hacker who goes by the handle Toruzz released a “ROM patch” for Nintendo’s 1992 game Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins. This 25th-anniversary release adds a “DX” suffix to the game’s name, and that’s because it’s been designed specifically to run on original Game Boy Color hardware. As a result, the ROM hack adds support for the Game Boy Color’s expanded color palette—which could run up to 56 colors on the screen simultaneously, as broken down by various sprite-specific palettes—along with support for the GBC’s faster CPU.
The result isn’t just a more beautiful and colorful version of the classic game (which, if you’re keeping track, served as the official debut of Mario’s rival Wario). It also removes the game’s issues with screen flickering, and it introduces a few gameplay twists, including the brand-new option to play as a fluttery-jumping Luigi. In order to play this updated version, you’ll need access to the original ROM (which is easier to do legally thanks to low-priced cartridge-ROM dumpers like the $50 Joey). Once you’ve patched it with Toruzz’s file, you can then dump the ROM back onto a compatible cartridge and play the game on a Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, or Game Boy Player.
Nintendo never released an official, colorized version of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins for its later portable systems. Instead, Nintendo slapped the “DX” treatment onto the original NES Super Mario Bros. on the Game Boy Color, along with Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX. Coincidentally, Toruzz’s ROM-hacking history includes a tweak to Link’s Awakening DX to clean up its text boxes and fonts. (Maybe the person should change his/her ROM-hacking handle to ToruzzDX.)
Nintendo’s history with community-developed ROM hacks and releases has been inconsistent for years. Some hacks, from Tomato’s famed Mother 3 English-language patch to a Pauline-rescues-Mario twist on Donkey Kong, have remained online for years. Others, from a Pokémon game patch to a rebuilt Metroid 2: Return of Samus, were almost immediately DMCA-lasered out of orbit. Thus, if you’re a classic-Nintendo fan with any interest in this SML2 patch, you should probably download first, ask questions later.
Listing image by Toruzz/Nintendo