Today marks the 26th anniversary of Super Mario World (based on the Japanese release). November 21, 1990. That was the day the Super Famicom launched in Japan along with Super Mario World, and gaming was never the same again. It’s crazy to believe it’s been 26 years. I figure there’s no better time than now to examine one of the best Super Nintendo games ever created. And sure, there’s nothing new to be said about this game that hasn’t already been said the past 26 years but being a fansite dedicated to all things SNES, it would be a crime not to have a Super Mario World review. So Mario and chums — here’s to ya!
HE DEFINED AN ENTIRE GENERATION
If you were like me and grew up in the ’80s, then you too grew up on 8-bit Nintendo. Which meant you got to experience all the joys of the Mario games as a youth. All three titles were finely tuned and fantastic. Mario was beloved by all and went on to become a household name. Together, the faction of Nintendo and Mario dominated the ’80s. But as long as the universe has existed there is one undeniable truth. Time passes, and change is inevitable. As the ’90s approached and our old best friend, the 8-bit NES, began showing its age, the rumblings could be heard. There was a new “super” system just over the horizon. Double the bits, and hopefully double the awesomeness. It was the Super Nintendo. And it’s fitting that the system would debut with a 16-bit version of Mario. The stage was set, then, for continued video game domination. And once again, the fans were the winners.
NOW YOU’RE PLAYING WITH SUPER POWER
Confession time: I didn’t play through Super Mario World until 16 years after its Japanese release. I remember growing up watching my brother and his friends playing it, but I never really did. I’d just sit there and watch the older kids go at it. Even through just watching it, you could feel the energy in the room. The year was 1991. Things of the old guard were going the way of the ill-fated dinosaur. The future was now. Childhood favorites “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage were giving way to younger superstars like Bret “The Hitman” Hart and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. Godzilla at the time seemed dead (to an eight-year-old with no knowledge of the Heisei series). And another dear old friend from the ’80s was gasping its final breath. As the 8-bit Nintendo faded off into the sunset, in came riding a brand new cowboy. And with it came Super Mario World. A fitting passing of the torch, the Super Nintendo made its debut with an old portly friend spruced up in 16-bit trimmings. It was nothing short of video gaming magic.
10 years ago (November 19, 2006) I sat down to play Super Mario World with the intention of beating it in mind. It was an absolutely glorious experience. What took me so long? This may shock you but I was a weird guy [was? -Ed.]. Sure I appreciated the Mario games growing up, but mainly I would watch my brother play them. I was always a big fan of the lesser known games and have been that way my entire life. But after returning to the SNES on January 17, 2006, I knew this was a second chance at gaming redemption. And I knew it was time to right a 15+ year wrong. I turned off the computer, plopped onto the sofa, kicked my feet up and finally booted up Super Mario World. And what followed was a week filled with some of the best single-player gaming moments of my life. It was a sheer joy to play through. Hey, better late than never!
THE STORY GOES…
New to the Mario universe is this magical cape. It possesses great power. You can spin attack the enemies with it, and you can also take to the skies.
Mario and friends came to Dinosaur Land hoping to catch up on their R & R. Instead of course they find themselves in a world filled to the brim with danger.
It’s a long and tough road ahead. But a wise person once said that an arduous journey begins with one step [That was me, clearly -Ed.]
Progress is made in a linear fashion although you can backtrack and even skip ahead, provided you know how! *wink wink*
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
Indeed, Mario didn’t come alone to this rodeo. Yoshi, a rollicking reptile with an appetite for menacing meanies, will help carry Mario through some tight jams. Though he’ll quickly run for the hills the second an enemy hits back.
Gigantic Banzai Bills come flying at you in the very first level. You had to listen closely for the warning sound and either duck or jump. We all know what a great game this is, but I feel the visuals don’t get enough love for their time. Pardon the pun but shots like these point to the game being no slouch in the graphic department!
Yoshi wasn’t created simply for marketing cosmetic purposes. He gave you an extra hit and some added offensive firepower as well.
Remember how cool it was seeing those little platforms dipping when you stood on them too long?
One of the most bizarre enemies on the roster, this smiley cactus dude can be gobbled up by Yoshi piece by piece. Do you remember the sweet sound that accompanied it? Some morbid humor can be found when only its head comes crawling after you, smile fully intact (!)
At certain points you can switch over to the other side. Definitely added an extra dimension to these parts.
I’ll be saying this a few times because I feel it bears a little repeating: the visuals have a nice depth to them. Sure it didn’t blow you away back in August 1991 like F-Zero did, but it’s plenty solid in its own right.
Doesn’t that pillar looks thick like a redwood tree? The convincing sound of them crashing down only adds to its brilliance.
Iggy Iggy can’t you see.
Sometimes your words just hypnotize me.
And I just love your flashy ways
Guess that’s why they broke, and you’re so paid.
Another example of Miyamoto magic: knocking out a string of bad guys with a single shell. Completely satisfying.
The castle dungeons are filled with hazards galore and will put your hand
eye coordination and platforming skills to the ultimate test. With silky smooth control and stellar sound, Super Mario World set the bar, and set it damn high.
Big ol’ Morton is boss number two. This time it’s a more traditional boss battle, requiring 3 hits to eliminate him.
Yes Yoshi, I know. At long last the title most synonymous with Super Nintendo gets a review on RVGFanatic. Yoshi’s Island superior? Hmm, we’ll see about that… in due time…
I love me some Vanilla Dome. It’s not as “vanilla” as its name might suggest. Some sweet old fashioned platforming levels with a great atmosphere make it one of my favorite areas in the entire game.
On to the Twin Bridges we go, AKA section 4 of the game. Can you find the two secret stages in this world?
Next up is the Forest of Illusion. Almost every section of the forest maze includes multiple exits.
I’m generally not the biggest fan of underwater stages in platformers, but there’s something about the underwater levels in Super Mario World that does it for me.
Even the exit gates serve an extra purpose. Depending on how high you can hit it, extra points are awarded. Miyamoto left no stone unturned.
Getting the switch block is like carrying around a precious golden egg. Every movement you make is done with extra precision and calculation. Every change in direction, even the slightest shift as you navigate your way through, is critical.
Festive though they may be, with Bowser there’s no such thing as fluff. Everything has its own purpose. This one? Mainly the sole purpose of killing you.
A more up close and personal look yields some pretty interesting yelps between the two.
Indeed, Mr. Roy thinks he’s the most interesting Koopaling in the world. Why just ask him if you don’t believe me.
Roy’s quite the drama queen. Talk about someone who knows how to ham it up.
At the end of each successfully defeated castle, there’s a little cutscene. Post Roy’s is one of the best. Poor Mario gets charred for all of his hard work!
Said it before and I’ll say it again. I love the way this game looks. More importantly, I love the sense of soul, spirit and adventure that the Nintendo staff carefully infused it with.
Welcome to World 6, Chocolate Island. Here you’ll find dino critters of all shapes and sizes.
These little cheese-esque hills descend, so unless you wish to be lava soup, keep Mario moving!
Finally, we arrive at Wendy’s castle. And what a castle it is. All sorts of traps lie in wait to snag Mario for good.
Back in the glorious late ’80s to mid ’90s, I ran with a group of folks who were my brothers and sisters. Our monthly family friend sleepovers were in a word, legendary. My gaming group gave me countless memories. One that sticks out occurred in 1993. There were about 20 kids that night. My older brother, myself, Sushi-X and his brother Zack were assigned the mission of buying burgers for all. So we hit up a local Wendy’s. The guy we affectionately called Sushi-X (for his intense love of Street Fighter which matched that of the EGM persona) ordered 30 (!) Big Bacon Classics (now defunct). Behind us was a lengthy line of folks. The ones immediately behind us, an elderly couple, shook their head at one another and bickered, “I told you, Hank! We should have gone to Red Lobster!” They stormed off and a couple of the other people behind them left as well. Standing off to the side of the cash register, I watched in bewilderment as Sushi-X single-handedly drove off the customers. We brought the loot back home and crowded around the Sony TV in the living room to watch Saturday Night Live and enjoy our burgers. There was such an abundance of Big Bacon Classics that 10 were left in the fridge for a midnight snack. Every time I drive by a Wendy’s these days, I can’t help but think of that Sushi-X memory and the night of our epic bacon feast. Thanks for all the memories, Game Crew and Dave Thomas
Before you can pass through to the Valley of Bowser, you must contend with this evil Sunken Ghost Ship.
My grandpa used to tell me all the time that money doesn’t grow on trees. I used to tell him “You’re right. They don’t, because they grow out of thin air, and I know this because Super Mario World told me so.” Then, he’d look at me sideways and say, “Son, you’re a special boy.”
Once you’ve escaped the Sunken Ghost Ship you’re ready to brave it all and step into the deadly Valley of Bowser. I hope she’s worth all the trouble, Mario.
You’ll need Yoshi in Valley of Bowser 4 if you wish to nab the key to the Star Road.
The battle against Larry is highly reminiscent of the one with Iggy, way back in the first world. Defeat him and then face the KING.
Isn’t it great how those red glowing eyes peer on in the background there? OK, so they were added in by yours truly. Still, one of my favorite moments in the entire game. It’s just so incredibly atmospheric.
EXTRA EXTRA: READ ALL ABOUT IT!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Super Mario World earned high marks just about everywhere. In EGM’s 100th issue (November 1997) it ranked #11. EGM gave it scores of 9, 9, 9 and 9. EGM reviewer Martin Alessi wrote, “I’ll take 96 levels of Mario over 20 of Sonic any day!” Nintendo Power placed it #16 on their Top 100 list in issue #100 (September 1997) and later bumped it up to #8 in issue #200. Super Play Magazine had it at #4 in their own Top 100 SNES Games list (issue 42, April 1996). Super Play scored it a massive 94%. While fans have long debated whether Super Mario World or Super Mario Bros. 3 is superior, Super Mario World is an exemplary example of the platforming genre done right and then some. It was the perfect game to debut with the Super Nintendo 26 years ago. And it still holds up incredibly well to this very day. You can pop it in now in the year 2016 and still be in awe of its smooth gameplay, crisp control and various nuances. It was a masterpiece then, and remains so to this very day 26 years later.
Early Sunday morning, November 19, 2006. 10 months into my SNES resurrection and two days before the game’s 16 year anniversary, I at long last powered up Super Mario World. I had never beaten it before. Early that Sunday morning I shifted my way through the darkness, determined to atone for past sins. In the riveting book The Kite Runner, Rahim Khan’s piercing words over the telephone haunts Amir. “There is a way to be good again.” I happened to be reading through that novel when I was going through this game for really the first time. As sad as it may sound, it was exactly how I felt about finally playing and beating this masterpiece. “There is a way to be good again.” It was my gaming redemption.
Going through Super Mario World for the first time in 2006 was a bittersweet feeling. I wished I hadn’t waited so long to finally beat it, yet I was thrilled at the opportunity to redeem the gaming missteps of my youth. As I waded my way through every castle, fortress and hill valley, it was almost as if I had taken a time machine back to the early 1990s. This game reaffirmed my love for this classic genre, as well as for this amazing system. Over the past 25 years the Super Nintendo has given me a bevy of memories. Somehow, it was always playing in the backdrop of my youth. Getting back into it in 2006 was the greatest decision of my gaming career. Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can, indeed, go home again. And as I ventured back to the roots of my childhood, I recalled all the characters (i.e. Sushi-X from my Game Crew) and favorite games. It wasn’t just about reminiscing, though. I had another mission firmly set in mind… to travel down the gaming roads I never did back in the day but should have. And these pathways have opened up a whole new treasure chest of gaming memories for me to carry on forever. Super Mario World is a rare gem of an adventure I shall always cherish. Gaming redemption never tasted so sweet.
You can’t talk about Super Nintendo’s very best without citing Super Mario World. It’s a timeless adventure that exudes excellence from top to bottom. A quintessential platformer, Super Mario World deserves its rightful due place on Super Nintendo’s Mount Rushmore.