Super Mario World (SNES, 1990)

INFO: My “Retro Vault” reviews are not scored. Instead, I just talk about why I have fond memories of whichever game I’m writing about at the time. Generally, I won’t pick out any bad games for the Retro Vault feature, so scoring them is essentially useless anyway. Enjoy the read.

I have to apologize to fans of Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy, because those games cannot stand up to the 16 bit behemoth that is Super Mario World. 3D Mario games are great and all, but 2D platforming, where Mario’s roots are, is also where he shines his best.

I remember when I was only six or seven years old, and I was visiting a friend’s house for a few hours. When I had walked in, I was greeted by what sounded like a very exciting video game. Back then, there was no internet and most people found out about games by word of mouth. Also, the Super Nintendo had only been recently launched, so a lot of people didn’t yet know about it. So, what was the first thing I saw when I rounded the corner and peered at their living room television? Why, it was Mario looking better than I had ever seen before! And he was involved in a fight with Bowser, and the graphics just blew my mind. Everything about this unknown Mario game captivated me. I found myself not caring much about the mysterious console that it was running on, instead only caring about one thing. Mario.

After I had gone home, I anxiously told my brother about what I had seen. It’s funny, because I vaguely remember him not believing me. However, after he had seen it for himself, a Super Nintendo wasn’t long showing up in our home which resulted in our bulky old NES being pushed aside. It was at this time that I could finally sit down and play Super Mario World. No, not play it… Bond with it, and love it.

Super Mario World is really something special. These days, those who are relatively new to gaming are spoiled when a new generation of consoles arrives. My first transition into a new generation was going from 8 bit to 16 bit, and this was a colossal leap at the time. Everything was just so much better by leaps and bounds, and this included Mario. This SNES launch title was better than any of his NES adventures by a gigantic margin. Not even the fantastic Super Mario Brothers 3 could compare!

So what was so great about Super Mario World? And why is it still so great? Well, Super Mario World took the superb gameplay formula from Mario 3 and did one simple thing – they perfected it. Mario World isn’t made great from the way it looks or sounds, no. Incredibly friendly and responsive controls, imaginative enemies and obstacles, and one of the most balanced difficulty curves I’ve ever experienced in a game are what makes Mario World what it is to me, and that’s the best platformer ever made.

Mario World probably doesn’t have as many levels as Mario 3, but the game makes up for that by making it’s levels some of the finest ever in a 2D video game. There are many superb challenges and obstacles that Mario must overcome, and the amount of secrets that take both creative thinking and skill to reach astounds me even to this day.

This was also the first game to feature one of the most iconic Mario sidekicks ever, and that is Yoshi. The green dinosaur has become very popular over time and certainly has his own loyal fanbase. Nintendo has not introduced a character as beloved as Yoshi since Mario and Luigi themselves. The later games try to make us fall in love with new characters, such as Bowser Jr, but the charm just isn’t the same anymore. Yoshi became well loved for being the most sought after “power up” in Mario World. He could breathe fire, fly, ground pound, and eat just about anything that wasn’t bolted down to the ground. Obtaining Yoshi also instilled a sense of confidence in players, since Yoshi made it far more difficult for our plumber friend to bite the dust. Yoshi allowed even the not-so-skilled players to get through some of the harder levels, which was a great thing.

Super Mario World had loads of charm. The music is only surpassed by the tunes in the original Super Mario Brothers in my opinion, but the graphics are the most charismatic out of all Mario platformers. The NES titles cannot compare, nor can the woefully unimpressive New Super Mario Brothers on the DS. I can’t speak for the latest Wii incarnation, but it doesn’t look that much better than what I played on the DS.

Considering that this game was a Super Nintendo launch title, it’s stunning that the graphics are as good as they happen to be. Many Super Nintendo games that came along a few years later couldn’t even look as charming as Super Mario World. This is evidence that Nintendo went the extra mile to make this beloved game not only play better than the competition, but also look it in some instances. Of course some Super Nintendo platformers such as Donkey Kong Country look better from a plain graphics perspective, but the DKC franchise doesn’t have nearly as much charm or charisma. Super Mario World had it all and then some. The koopas, thwomps, boos, various fish, and of course the Koopa Kids, Mario World had loveable style oozing out of every pore.

Super Mario World is my second favourite Super Nintendo game, and one of my favourite games of all time. This game is, purely and simple, Mario at his best. Try to hate this game I dare you, because you’ll find it hard to do so when you can’t even put your controller down.

Nintendo, thank you. This game truly is the epitome of 2D platforming.

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2 thoughts on “Super Mario World (SNES, 1990)

  1. I still play this game to this day. I played it as a kid, never beat it, but I played it so much with my friends and alone, and I pull it out to play every once in a while still. Mario has always been one of my favorite game series of all time. Opening up with arguably the most influencial game of all time: The Original Mario Brothers, then an average game by Mario…

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