Retro Review: SUPER MARIO WORLD A Game That Stands The Test Of Time

Growing up I had played quite a few games on our old Atari 2600 like PAC-MAN and MISSILE COMMAND.  I would even go over to friends’ houses and play on their NES systems games Like X-MEN and TMNT 2.  While I had played quite a few games I hadn’t found any that captivated my 5-year-old mind in any meaningful way, well until Christmas 1991.  1991 saw the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States and with it came SUPER MARIO WORLD.  I was immediately transfixed by the grey console with the purple switches and wondered what it could do.  Hooking it up to our old Zenith TV blew my mind of what a video game could be and I have loved them ever since.  All nostalgia aside, is Super Mario World a game that holds up well in 2017?

Story

Mario, Luigi and Princess Toadstool are taking a vacation in the distant Dinosaur Land.  While there, Princess Toadstool is kidnapped, once again, by Bowser.

Gameplay

Super Mario World introduces players to 9 new worlds and “96” levels of great Mario platforming.  Ok, 96 levels aren’t a real thing, it is 96 exits with many levels having multiple exits.   There are only 75 levels including 7 castles and the final showdown with Bowser himself.  But with multiple exits comes lots of hidden routes and secrets that give you the opportunity to skip many sections of the game.  Switch Palaces are a new feature to Super Mario World that activate hidden blocks.  These blocks can help you find secrets earlier and easier, and yellow and green blocks provide items.  New powerups have also been introduced, including a feather that turns into a cape and a weird balloon that inflates Mario into a blimp.  Returning favorites like the mushroom, flower, and star are of course present.  Saving was also Introduced in Super Mario World so the game could be handled in chunks of time instead of all at once.  Saving is limited to after activating a Switch Palace or beating a ghost house or castle so don’t expect to spam it after every level.  Super Mario World also sees the return of 2 player mode with players alternating turns between levels or deaths.

Level design in Super Mario World isn’t always my favorite thing with many levels being easily beaten by using the new cape powerup.  In a completely random turn of events it is the water and “moving” stages that I enjoy the most about Super Mario World because they can truly provide a significant challenge; here’s looking at you, Soda Lake.  Overall Super Mario World features an outstanding diversity in level environments ranging from forests, mountains, underwater, and stars to chocolate!  That’s right Super Mario World has an entire world dedicated to chocolate so make sure you don’t fall in the hot chocolate.  To help you navigate these new worlds Super Mario World introduces a new character that has been a Nintendo regular ever since: Yoshi!  You can find Yoshi trapped in boxes within certain levels and the dinosaur has no objections about helping you kick the Koopa army out of his home.  Well, unless it is a castle or ghost house, because apparently, he won’t or can’t enter them?  In the later Star World of the game you find some multicolored baby Yoshi that need to be fed a certain number of enemies to grow into a ridable Yoshi with each color providing a different special ability.  Blue Yoshi FTW!

Sound

Being a Super Nintendo Launch game, Super Mario World quickly shows off what the new system was capable of.  Sound effects are crisp and vibrant with each tone being unique.  Hitting multiple enemies quickly or in certain ways also leads to effects changing tones letting you know you are close to earning a 1up if you keep doing what you are doing.  Music is an amazing part of the joy that comes from playing Super Mario World.  Each environment has its own tune just like previous Mario games and they all sound great.  It is sad that the music from Super Mario World isn’t as well remembered as the music from Super Mario Bros.

Graphics

Like music, the graphics of Super Mario World quickly showed off what the Super Nintendo could deliver over its predecessor.  Sharp colorful sprites populate vastly colorful environments.  To make it even better the whole game runs like a dream; fast, fluid, with no stuttering to ruin a moment of play.  While it wasn’t the prettiest game in the Super Nintendo library, by the end of the era it set a high bar for other games to follow and beat.

Conclusion

Looking beyond the amazingly original storyline Super Mario World is a fantastic platformer.  I revisit the game at least once a year to remember why this game was, and still is, one of the best platformers of all time.  Even in 2017 gamers who have never experienced the journey that is Super Mario World will find the game a joy to play.  Between the precise controls, diverse environments and awesome music I cannot recommend this game any stronger.  Super Mario World stands the test of time and has easily claimed a spot in my personal top 10 games of all-time list.

Buying Guide

Alright, I convinced you, huh?  How can you play this game?! Super Mario World has been ported to almost every modern Nintendo home console and handheld since its original SNES release and even finding an original cart isn’t too hard if you prefer your retro like I do.

SNES (~$20) – The original release of the game and by far my favorite version to play.

GBA (~$15) – A port of Super Mario World to the Game Boy Advance handheld. It features a reduced screen size making some jumping harder. Colors are also different due to the weaker hardware but a dedicated sprite for Luigi is included.  The best part about the GBA port is that Dinosaur coins are tracked per level.  Overall not a bad way to play the game.

Wii ($8) – An emulated port of the original SNES release.  Plays fine with a classic controller but don’t try it with a GameCube controller.

Wii U ($8) – An emulated port of the original SNES release. Plays fine with a Wii U pro controller or a classic controller.

New 3DS ($8) – An emulated port of the original SNES release.  The smaller screen size makes it harder to play but this is my preferred way to play the game on a handheld.