Review by Psycho Penguin

"Now you have no excuse not to have a Game Boy Advance.."

Super Mario Advance was an easy attempt by Nintendo to cash some money out of the Mario franchise. Thinking the average consumer will just buy anything with the Mario name in it, they put together a subpar port of a heavily aged Super Mario 2 for NES and remade it into Super Mario Advance. It sold well, and a lot of people liked it, but I was not one of those people. Super Mario Advance was a dry effort that never really clicked. It was missing a certain element that made the Mario series so enjoyable.

Then, Nintendo announced they were remaking Super Mario World for the Game Boy Advance. I was a little skeptical, even though I knew they could pretty much make the same game and I'd love it. That is because Super Mario World has aged a lot better than Super Mario 2 has. So, maybe it wasn't totally Nintendo's fault that Super Mario Advance sucked, but they could have chosen a much better game to kick off the era of the Game Boy Advance.

When I first played the remake of Super Mario World, I was instantly transported back into my youth, a time when everything was so much simpler. I remembered staying up late at night to find all the star world entrances. I remember the amazement of seeing the lighting effects for the first time. That is what Super Mario World is all about. It's not about marketing hype or ad campaigns. It's not about how much polygons each character has. It's all about fun and classic gameplay. Back when gaming was all about fun, Super Mario World was the game to play, and it still is, even today.

A famous man once said, ''to see one, is to see them all''. That's the perfect quote to match what the Mario series has in storyline. Every Mario game seems to follow the same basic storyline path: Princess is kidnapped by Bowser. Mario must save Princess. Mario defeats Bowser. Princess is saved. So, Super Mario World isn't going to win any awards for storyline excellence, but the addition of Yoshi definitely adds a little variety. Especially when you find out he isn't home, so you need to go rescue him. It's a nice little mix to the same tried and true formula. But as they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

From the time you first turn on the game and see the awesome title screen to the time ''The End'' is shown, you will be completely blown away by how fun the game truly is. For those of you familiar with the original Super Mario World, skip to the next paragraph. It's a side scrolling game, just like most of the other Mario games. You go from stage to stage, collecting coins and items to help you on your quest. An addition to the game was a power up item holder. You can hold one item at a time, and when you get hit by an enemy, the power up item comes down and you can regain your strength. Also, if you need to fly, and don't have a cape on, but have a cape in the holder, you can press a button and the cape will come down, so you can fly up to where you need to go.

The port of this is basically a straight remake with a few new additions. For one, colored yoshis are now found in the stages, instead of just star world. Also, you can now have up to 999 lives. Of course, the main addition to the game is the inclusion of Luigi. Like in Super Mario Advance, Luigi is now a playable character. He acts just like he did in Mario Advance, meaning he can jump higher, but he also drank way more coffee than he should have. Therefore, he is harder than normal to control, especially when he jumps. You can also save at any time, and the difficulty level has increased a tad.

While some platforming games spend too much of their time focusing on other things, Super Mario World concentrates a lot on stage design to make the game more fun, and boy does it show. Featuring some of the greatest stage designs ever put into a platforming game, Super Mario World is truly the pinnacle of stage design. For instance, in one of the main dungeons of the game, you are forced to climb on a sort of fence-like wire to avoid enemies. Along the way, you must avoid enemy fire, enemies, holes and gaps, and more. You can swing back and forth behind and frontwards, but you can also fall off. It's this kind of imagination that makes the game feel truly special.

The game still looks just as wonderful as it did when it was first released ten years ago. I remember being amazed by how amazing the graphics were back then, and I am still amazed. From the grassy terrain of the opening stages, to the murky and muddy overtones of the Chocolate Island, the game will never fail to amaze you. Some of the enemy designs are just wonderful, while some disappoint. For instance, the huge black bullets are now smaller in size, but the koopa enemies still look as wonderful as ever. And the animation is dead on, as well. I especially love it when you knock the shell off a koopa turtle and he walks around without a shell. The enemy designs were definitely innovative and creative, like the flying koopas with capes on. The lightning effects when you finally meet Bowser will blow you away the first time you see them, guaranteed.

Orchestrated by one of the best composers in the world, the soundtrack for Super Mario World combines magestic orchestrations and rock music-like sounds. The result is one of the better sounding Mario games ever. You will be completely mesmerized by some of the music in the game, like the Forest of Illusion. One of the cooler songs in the game is found in the Ghost House. It's a scary music that sounds perfect for a ghost ship, and it is slow, dark, and brooding. The music definitely fits the feeling of the game. While not being quite as good as the music, the sound effects are quite good, despite the fact the new voices can get a bit annoying. Although, they will never get quite as annoying as the voices in the original Super Mario Advance.

Back when I was a kid, I used to stay up late at night to find out all of the secrets the game had to offer. I spent week after week trying to get to the most special of special stages. I checked out strategy guide after strategy guide looking to see if I missed everything. Yes, Super Mario World truly grabbed my attention in a magical way when it was released. While it does not have that hold over me today, I still find myself turning on my Game Boy Advance just to relive the experience. It is definitely true gaming bliss. Featuring a boatload of secrets, a ton of cool tricks to try out (Forest of Illusion 1-up trick, for instance), and some of the best stage designs ever featured in a video game, you'd be hard pressed to find a more addicting platforming game on the market today.

Perhaps the only crack in an otherwise solid brick gaming experience is the challenge level of the game. It starts off way too easy and never really recovers. While it does get challenging as the game progresses, it never really makes it to the level you'd expect it to be. Some of the stages will frustrate you, but you'll never really get that ''this is going to take me ten lives to get through'' feeling some other games would give you. Regardless, the game is still a decent challenge, and the last few special stages are some of the toughest stages ever featured in a platforming game.

Words can not describe how awesome this game is. If it wasn't for Circle of the Moon, this would be my favorite portable game of all time. It is truly addictive and will be loved by absolutely everyone that plays it. Despite the fact that there are not as much additions as I may have liked (the only main one, a playable Luigi, is not exactly cutting edge), there is still more than enough here to warrant a purchase. If you missed the original Super Mario World, now is your chance to experience one of the greatest games of all time, and you can take it on the road. With the price cut of both the Game Boy Advance and this game, now is the best chance you'll have. Don't pass it up.

Good Points
-The graphics are absolutely phenomenal.
-The music and sound effects are amazing.
-The game controls about as well as it possibly could.
-Due to the load of secrets, the game has a ton of replay value.
-The game is absolutely addictive, enthralling, and deep.
-The game features the absolute pinnacle of stage designs.

Not So Good Points
-The challenge level could have been a bit greater.
-Some of the music did not port well from the SNES to the GBA.
-The storyline is still rather basic and boring, except for Yoshi.

I Run Down The Game... Psycho Penguin Style!
Storyline - 3.1/10
Graphics - 9.9/10
Music - 9.8/10
Controls - 9.9/10
Gameplay - 9.9/10
Fun Factor - 9.8/10
Replay Value - Above Average
Challenge - Average
Game Length - 10 Hours
Is This Game Worth A Purchase? - Absolutely.
Overall - 9.9/10

Psycho Penguin Lays The Smackdown!
The Bottom Line: Truly a wonderful game for the ages, and well worth a purchase. Gaming has never seen such a remarkable platformer, and it probably never will again.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 02/26/02, Updated 02/26/02


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