In 1989, Gunpei Yokai, inventor of the Game & Watch, saw his newest brainchild, the Game Boy, released, and of course, being a Nintendo product, the Game Boy would also very much-so need a Super Mario title of some kind to keep up with the hype of the hot series on the regular 8-bit NES. After all, we could not let all those Gen Y kids who wanted to sit in the back of the Country Squire or Explorer have to wait to get home to get their Mario fix now would we?

But what's unique about Super Mario Land, was it was a game developed, not by Shigeru Miyamoto and his team, but rather, Gunpei Yokoi's team, the same one that designed the Game Boy, and likely that is the reason that despite looking like the 1st Super Mario Bros. game on a game boy console, it's so vastly weird and diifferent.

In Super Mario Land, you play as Mario, yes, but he's not on an adventure in a place called Sarasaland, and his mission is to fight some kind of Alien that has kept Princess Daisy captive - yeah, not Toadstool (what was the canon name for Peach back then), DAISY, a different princess. So you have four levels of 3 sublevels each, each one based on a specific part of the world (Egypt, the Sea, Easter Island, and Asia). One clever move on this game was the move to having certain stages that are side scrolling shooter stages with Mario manning 2 vehicles - the Marine Pop (Level 2-3), and the Sky Pop (Level 4-3).

Basically what it was supposed to be was Super Mario Bros. for the Game Boy, but different enough to attract people who did not want a Game Boy but loved Mario to have a reason to get one, that's how I see it.
Another One Rides The (Game Boy) Bus - My Experiences
I was 9, there was this girl named Ashley on my school bus with a Ariel shirt. And she had a Game Boy that she played on the bus a lot. I used to get to borrow it periodically, and try out Super Mario Land. Then on my 10th Birthday, I got one f my own, paying a part of it's cost, along with this game, Super Mario Land.

I would ride the bus and play this as well, often pausing it to continue when I got home. This was also just in that magical period just as I was starting to get acquainted with PC gaming. So when my sister's computer was taken up, I would play the Game Boy instead, opting to sit under a Mr. Belvedere style green desk lamp.

Unfortunatley today, I can't really stomach Game Boy games on actual hardware anymore. It strains my eyes way too much. When I was 10, that screen seemed more than adequate enough, but at 40, that screen gives me a headache. There's no backlighting, the screen is merely 2.5"x2.5" at best, most of them are faded now, or sun baked (like mine was), and for this particular game, I need a magnifying glass on the screen to not cause eyestrain - WITH READING GLASSES. So this is one of the few consoles I actually PREFER on Emulation because it hurts my bloody eyes and strains them. If I play Super Mario Land on an original grey Brick these days, I end up having to take a nap because I can't see a damn thing reliably afterward. Getting old sucks!