Super Mario World – SNES
Platform: Super NES
Release Date (NA): August 23rd, 1991
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Super Mario World is easily one of my most favorite games of all time and indeed one of the finest platformers ever conceived. As time has taken its toll on the novelty of these old games, Super Mario World is too often overshadowed by the huge following for Super Mario Bros. 3. Of course SMB3 is a fantastic game, but that doesn’t mean we should all forget about the SNES’s launch title. This game is near perfection with its beautiful visuals and simple and effective gameplay. Super Mario World can also be credited for an idea that Nintendo has implemented in most all other later Mario titles: an “easy way” to complete the game as well as optional objectives for increased difficulty and replayability. The game is filled with secret exits moreso than any Mario title since, generally resulting from the solution of clever, sometimes nearly impossible, puzzles hidden within the levels.
Super Mario World eschews the raccoon tail of SMB3 for the all new cape which functions similarly. “Switch Palaces” are also introduced, a concept that we wouldn’t see again until New Super Mario Bros. U. Gameplay resembles previous Mario games with a touch of refinement including a sort of “spin jump,” the predecessor of the “ground pound” and a concept that would be revisited in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Yoshi makes his first appearance here, and while he can be a little too tough to hold on to, he is invaluable for unlocking some of the game’s secrets, not to mention how just plain fun it is to eat enemies or crush them underfoot. The world map debuting in SMB3 is also back, this time in a sleeker, more cohesive format.
The graphics are some of the most notable from the 16-bit era, nice bright colors that leave little if any ambiguity about objects. Castles and Boo Houses are especially well done, conveying an appropriate aura of dread and mystery. The music may not be the most familiar to Mario fans, but it is some of the best in the series along with the crisp sound effects. Level design in Super Mario World is nearly flawless with all sorts of environments and background elements to admire. The underground caverns (as well as the accompanying music) are some of my favorite sights of the game.
I won’t go so far as to call this game easy, but one can make appreciable progress without too much loss of life. The difficulty definitely ramps up in the later levels, and Boo Houses are always a source of frustration and puzzle solving at any point in the game. At least there’s none of those crazy and almost impossible airship levels from SMB3 to deal with. One can follow the simple course of the game, or one can take a little bit of time to search around and open up all sorts of new levels. Although these secret levels rarely lead to anything more than other secret levels or a path looping back around to the main course, it does provide plenty of reasons to continually revisit completed levels. There is considerable length to Super Mario World, and the best part is that it’s the first Mario title to offer the ability to save one’s progress.
Also of note is “Star Road,” a sort of bonus area of levels. These levels are best described as manifestations of “what if?” scenarios regarding level design. Difficult but fun, the ultimate reward is unlocking yet another set of bonus levels, simply known as “Special.” In this area, stages have such monikers as “Awesome” and “Funky” and these levels will test the physical and mental acuity of even the most seasoned gamers. Beginning Nintendo’s long standing tradition of inserting a section of super-hard stages tucked away in some hidden corner of Mario games, these levels are about as hard as it gets, and it all started here.
A fantastic game for gamers of any status, Super Mario World deserves more attention than it gets. If you’ve never played it or haven’t given it much of a thought since childhood, give it a go and I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The only reason I can’t give this game a 10 is because once the castles have been completed, it is impossible to replay them on the same save file.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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