Super Mario World is a 2D platformer for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It is the follow-up to Super Mario Bros 3 and is the first of the Super Mario World series. Bowser is up to his old tricks once again of kidnapping the princess. This time he keeps her locked up in a castle on Dinosaur Island, where he has also imprisoned many of the inhabitants, the Yoshis, inside of eggs. Apparently they don’t just hatch from them… but… okay, whatever. It’s up to Mario and Luigi to save the day. This is done in typical Mario fashion. You run, jump, explore, and fight your way through the various levels and lands of the island in order to get to Bowser’s Castle. You have familiar powerups such as mushrooms and fire flowers. You can jump on enemies’ heads. And similar to Super Mario Bros 3, you can pick your levels from an overworld map. You fight bosses in each area to progress until the final battle. However, there are many new things to find in this new game.
The brand new powerup, essentially replacing the leaf, is the feather, which gives you a cape. This cape can be used to attack enemies, slow your descent, and even allow you to fly with proper timing of your mid-air swoops. There are many secrets to be found in the game, which means that the ability to play and replay levels multiple times to find hidden exits to uncover hidden paths is a large part of the game. Some secrets lead to shortcuts, bonus areas, or switch palaces. Switch palaces are short levels that allow you to turn on a colored switch. Once done, all of the dotted outlines of that switch’s exclamation point boxes within the levels across the game will turn into tangible platforms, which will help make the levels easier and uncover more secrets later on. The game also introduces the spin jump, which allows you to bounce off of certain enemies that would otherwise harm you as well as allowing you to break certain blocks beneath you if you’re not small. At the end of each level you can try to hit a moving goal marker for a number of stars. Accumulating 100 stars will initiate a minigame where you need to hit boxes and try to line up as many lines of three of the same symbol as possible to gain some extra lives. This game also introduces Yoshis, a race of dinosaurs indigenous to the island. You can ride on one’s back and use their tongue to eat things and spit them out. Each color of Yoshi has their own special ability, and eating certain colored Koopa shells will grant some unique ability to Yoshi as well. The game also allows you carry one extra powerup in an inventory slot on top of the screen which can be dropped down at will or will drop automatically when you turn small. Some other main fixtures of the overworld are ghost houses, fortresses, and castles. Ghost houses are generally filled with Boos and tend to involve solving puzzles to find the exit. Fortresses are smaller castle levels that generally will have you facing the recurring miniboss. The actual castles are generally more challenging and end with boss battles against the Koopalings. You can also access a super-secret set of levels if you’re diligent in finding those secret exits. And the game even allows you to save on up to three different files.
I think this game is amazing. The controls are perfect. The new additions of the spin jump, the cape, and Yoshi all add not only to the general gameplay but also to finding the well-crafted secrets. The secrets and bonuses you find also motivate you to replay and really explore the levels. New mechanics and possibilities are what keep this game so fresh and exciting, even if it is rather formulaic from the overworld outset. There are so many levels to play that it’s perhaps the pinnacle of 2D Mario adventures. You’ll need to be swift, smart, and thorough in order to conquer this one. Plus it has some nice cartoony visuals and some catchy tunes. There are so many new things being thrown at you constantly that the game continues to grab your attention and make it fun the entire time. There’s a certain magic to the discovery and mastery being presented in the design. The adventure of such a huge, open game mixed with the mostly linear levels makes it a fun blend of many things. You’d be hard pressed to find a better Mario experience. And it has multiplayer where you switch off turns and actually totally work together for once, which is great!
I honestly have practically nothing to complain about here. I guess some of the secrets are exceptionally tough to find, but that makes them all the more rewarding and mesmerizing when you do finally find them. The recycled miniboss Reznor can be a little lame after you see it a few times, as well as some of the Koopalings being more or less altered versions of previous Koopalings. Some of the secrets end up leading you to someplace you can already go, which sort of defeats the purpose if you already found the other route there. The super-secret set of levels is incredibly tough and interesting to play, but there’s not really much of a reward for doing so. Also, the original version likes to just mention Mario in the cutscene text, which is a bit annoying when you know damn well you were pulling your weight as Luigi over here!
Speaking of which, this was corrected in the Game Boy Advance port of the game, Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World. In this version of the game you can also play as Luigi, who sports his fluttery jump from the North American version of Super Mario Bros 2. He also can knock multiple coins out of the multi-coin boxes in a single hit. This version sports slightly altered visuals and sounds to take advantage of the GBA hardware. Mario and Luigi are even voiced. You have the ability to pick either one between levels. Playing as each one will give you advantages and disadvantages depending on the level and your personal playstyle. The rest of the game appears to be the same. This was most likely done to still include Luigi in the mix significantly on a mostly single player system. There’s also a remake of the original Mario Bros on the game as well. Not that I need to do a full review for that side game, but it’s basically a series of increasingly difficult stages where you run around and try to flip enemies over by jumping into platforms underneath them and then kicking them offscreen until you’ve cleared them all, collecting coins for extra points and avoiding other various obstacles along the way. It’s a nice little addition to kill some time. This is also the first version of Super Mario World I’ve played and the one I’m most familiar with.
Super Mario World is a masterpiece, pure and simple. Any gripes seem to be minor and nitpicky. The perfect control, the simplistic yet interesting level design, the secrets, the replayability, the cartoony art, the catchy music… it all comes together in such a perfect Mario package that I can’t help but recommend this game to everyone without hesitation. It’s my favorite Mario title for a reason. I urge you to pick up whatever version of this game that you can and give it a try. It’s an experience that you don’t want to miss. It’s even worth paying up to 50 bucks for, though I doubt it’ll cost you that much to find a version of it. Please, just play it. This game is a classic for a reason. Super Mario World is fantastic.