Review by TheGutsyBat

"The legacy of side-scrolling supremacy continues."

Throughout gaming's lavish history, Nintendo has created some bombshells. Who can forget their first arcade smash, Donkey Kong? Or Link, protagonist of the Legend of Zelda series? Or more recently, Captain Olimar, space traveler in the quirky Pikmin franchise. All of these characters have found ways into our hearts, and have all made lasting impressions in the gaming world in their own rights.

However, it's conventional wisdom that the most important figure in gaming history is Mario, the overall-wearing, red hat toting plumber from Brooklyn who changed the landscape of gaming overnight. Whether he was smashing Goombas, trouncing one of Bowser's ghastly kids in their own castles, or reaching the end of a world, only to find out “The Princess is in another castle,” Mario has become the face of Nintendo, and arguably the face of gaming. Along the way, he's had some outstanding adventures, but in 1991 Mario embarked on his most impressive journey yet in Super Mario World.

To say that Super Mario World changed the landscape of gaming forever would be an understatement. First off, Sega began taking over the “gaming race” with the introduction of the Sega Genesis and their very own mascot, Sonic. SMW needed to be a smash. Not only was it a launch title for Nintendo's fabled Super Nintendo system, it was their chance to change the tides in the Sega vs. Nintendo war. And folks, 20 million sales don't lie. Super Mario World was an unabashed success. Everything from the sound to the graphical design to the controls were revolutionary for their time, and even today in 2008, the adventure can offer gamers the same thrills as they did 17 years ago.

The story was standard fare in the Nintendo universe: Princess Peach was captured by Bowser and it's up to Mario and his new pal, Yoshi, to save her. And wouldn't you know it, even though we'd already done it three times before, the same premise still was enough to drive you forward to the final showdown with Bowser.

Mario's ability in SMW transformed him into a much more nimble hero than we'd previously seen. Nintendo introduced a new “spin jump” that was perfect for smashing baddies and blocks. Gone were the days of the of the raccoon suit. Along with the classic super mushroom to increase Mario's size and the fire flower which allows Mario to blast foes with fireballs, gamers are introduced to the cape feather.

The feather allows Mario more dexterity than ever before. He can by holding the shoulder buttons and pressing up on the directional pad, allowing gamers to travel large distances through the air. Cape Mario can also still spin around and damage nearby enemies. It's really important to note that you no longer need to get the super mushroom before powering up with a fire flower or feather: Mario can simply grab one and instantly become empowered with those abilities.

Also new to the series is the ability to scroll directions with the shoulder buttons and look up and down. It may not sound like a lot, but in forced scrolling levels and when controlling the moving coin blocks, it's extremely helpful and can usually produce some help for Mario to escape danger. Gamers also have a “reserve box” at their disposal, which holds an extra power-up for Mario. So, let's say you're Fire Mario, and you obtain another flower. It goes up to your reserve box and will drop down if Mario loses his current fire flower. Also, if you're in danger and have a power-up stored in the reserve box, simply press the select button, and it tumbles down to Mario.

I mentioned Yoshi earlier, and can safely say he's my favorite addition to Super Mario World. There are four different Yoshis in SMW: the standard green, blue, yellow and red. Each variation of Yoshi has different powers. You also might come across a Yoshi egg, which can grow into a full-sized Yoshi by eating enemies or berries. Yoshi is an extremely helpful tool when vanquishing foes. His abilities can mean life or death for Mario, not to mention, you get an extra hit while riding Yoshi.

Presentation and ambiance are the strongest elements of Super Mario World. Gamers are given 72 levels to explore across 7 vast worlds and 2 secret worlds. Each world contains unique enemies that are bent on terminating Mario. The worlds vary from the delicious Chocolate Island, the tricky Forest of Illusions and Vanilla Dome, just to name a few. All house secrets and various ways to complete levels. The maps and levels are brilliantly designed. Colors are vibrant and varied. Backgrounds also change in each world. Stars glint and shine. You can see mountains and oceans. Everything seems huge.

The sprites are as lively as ever, definitely taking advantage of the advances in technology. They appear to be three-dimensional, present in the sprite rotation or jump. In addition to the immersive world, the maps are equally vibrant and simple to navigate. Super Mario World may not compare well to today's graphical juggernauts, but the visual presentation is still pleasing to the eye and truly immerses you into Dinosaur Land.

Sound is equally as impressive in Mario's fourth full-length game in America. Produced by Koji Kondo, the music is fresh and matches the graphical presentation in tone. When riding Yoshi, the music picks up in cadence and incorporates bongos and steel drums. When going underground, the music slows down to almost a waltz. The song in Donut Plains is just flat-out cool, as is the Yoshi number. Sound usually doesn't make or break a game, but the sound in Mario is bright and appealing.

A handful of games that came after it may have passed Super Mario World in terms of graphics or sound, maybe more refined controls, or even a more compelling story, but none of them could've been possible without the groundbreaking effect of Super Mario World. Much like the original Super Mario Brothers game, Nintendo's 1991 creation completely changed the way both gamers and developers approached gaming. There was a lot to explore across the 9 worlds and just as many ways to go about exploring them. Super Mario World is without a doubt a staple in the genre and one of the greatest games ever made.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/13/08

Game Release: Super Mario World (US, 08/13/91)


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