Review by MaxH

"An undeniably captivating platformer that introduced me to the world of videogaming"

The story of how I got into playing videogames is one waiting to be told, and it all centers around Mario World. I had a later start to videogaming than most others, when I got my Super Nintendo with a copy of Super Mario world and Donkey Kong Country (I was about nine I believe) for my birthday. Super Mario world was the first game I chose to play (Even though I hadn't played many videogames before, Mario was a household name. Plus, I was a little skeptical of a game with the word 'Donkey' in the title). Three years later, I foolishly decided that flashier was better, and traded in my SNES for a second-hand Playstation.

And that was a mistake I regretted for five or so years. Much as I liked the Playstation, it all depended on Third-party titles, it didn't have that nintendo magic. So a couple of weeks ago I strolled along to my nearest independent games shop and acquired myself a SNES along with eight games, Super Mario World being the one that caught my eye first. If you've seen the score then I hardly need tell you that this game makes up for all the bad playstation purchases I ever made.

Much as I'd love to carry on telling you about my videogame stories, I'm afraid that what Super Mario World has to offer is far more interesting. It's a traditional 2D platformer where you can take control of Mario (Luigi too, if you want to mess around with the two-player) and must travel around super Mario world to save the princess and destroy all the evil beasts and kill Bowser once and for all (Well, until Yoshi's Island anyway). It may sound simple and unmemorable, but it's in the execution that this really shines.

If you think about it, gaming as we know it is really just pressing a lot of buttons, that's all. And most of the time we are all too aware that we are just progressing the onscreen movie with a jab of button Y or a quick flick of the analogue stick. When a game is truly immersive and fun to play though, this shouldn't happen. And it doesn't here either, the game buries you deep inside itself with it's many enjoyable elements. I'd gladly say that this was the best level design in a 2d platformer ever. The obstacles and level-specific challenges may not be as varied as Donkey Kong Country's, but there are some truly wonderful puzzles to get your head around (Especially the ghost levels) and some unbearably intense precision controlling sections to steer through.

Other platformers may have difficult levels also, but you'll usually find some unfairness there. Super Mario World is all about learning to melt your hands into the controller and perform great feats of jumping, sudden turning and attacking. For the gamer who isn't prepared to do this, this game might seem unfair and not as fun as the more eye-catching DKC series. But move beyond the initial feeling of simplicity and the fact that it doesn't seem too different to Super Mario Brothers 3, and you'll find that the levels are so well designed that it's hard not to lose yourself in the game.

The controls are also spot on. With the slightly 'floaty' feel that plagued Donkey Kong Country and other various problems littered through just about every other platformer, you wonder why other developers STILL can't get it as good as this. When you press jump there's no delay, when you press left, you'll turn left with great speed and start sprinting in that direction. It's all been perfected so that the player can dodge and weave around the various obstacles with ease, and mastering it requires minimal practice.

I also particularly like the health system. You start the level small, but collecting mushrooms, flowers or feathers (The last two give you the ability to shoot fire, and float respectively) and will also add one extra hit you're allowed before you die. I much prefer this to Sonic's ring collecting system, which I think adds less depth to play and is a little unfair.

With genius level design crafted by Shigeru Miyamato himself mixed with a fair but often high difficultly level AND perfect controls, you can't really go wrong. It's extremely fun to play through, and holds a huge challenge. Most gamers should be able to work through to defeat bowser without an enormous amount of trouble, but to find all the secrets? Well that's a completely different matter. Finding all the ninety six different exits will provide a challenge bigger than in ANY other 2d platformer around. It's not just a case of finding a guide in a videogames shop or the internet and having them handily pointed out to you (This would spoil the fun anyway). although that may take away some of the challenge, it would hardly affect it at all. You often know exactly what to do to get to the secret exits, but it's extremely hard to get them.

Most of them involve hitting a switch that will change something in the level for a short period of time. Getting all of the different level endings is a real test of your joypad skills and reactions. get them all and consider yourself a true gamer. Getting everything provided me with the most satisfying gaming experience I have ever had. It's a testament to Super Mario world's quality that I've played loads of brilliant platformers since this one and yet I haven't experienced anything as immensely joyous as fully completing it. And I've played through it several times because it's just so easy to slip into and rewarding to play. It really doesn't get much better than this.

Graphically, it's hardly stunning. But considering this is a game that is years old, and the first SNES game ever, then it's actually very pleasing to the eye. Character animation is superb. Mario, for the first time in his life, has actual eyes rather than just black dots. So he finally looks like less of a robotic store manikin. The detail to the enemies is also a lot brighter and cartoonish than Mario's NES outings. In fact the whole look of the game could be described as bright and cartoonish, it fits the style of gameplay well. Yoshi is also here in his classic form, in his first game appearance ever. It was (obviously) overshadowed by the gorgeous 3d-but-not Donkey kong Country and the charmingly styled Yoshi's Story in terms of looks, but it still manages to impress with it's brilliant animations and wonderous cartoon style.

Sound-wise it's thoroughly Mario. Those calm Caribbean style tunes still play through most of the levels. Although I have to say, the dramatic and sinister castle music does add a layer of atmosphere to the experience. The music isn't as catchy as that found in the three Super Mario Bros games, and in the light of current game music scores, seems all too 'pleasant'. The ever-catchy 'you've just died!' jingle is present and correct as are all the unarguably cool sound effects (Who can't love the sound a mushroom makes when it emerges from a block?).

After Countless NES efforts to beat the Super Mario Bros games, developers were beginning to come close. But Nintendo raised the bar again with this, which was copied by numerous SNES platformers. Even unique series such as DKC couldn't help but 'borrow' a few elements. Because everything here fits into place, and feels exactly as it should. Developers have since out-smarted the game in terms of inventiveness (While still using ideas from it) but Super Mario World remains timeless and pure unadulterated fun. You can't fault it really.

I'm Super Mario, thanks for asking
+ Classic level design that never fails to involve the player
+ Perfect controls
+ A long game
+ Mountains of secrets
+ Replay value by the bucketload
+ Easy to get into
+ Impossible to escape
+ In the light of all the 'My game has more polygons than yours' developers about these days, it's almost a shock to the system to play a game that is all about having fun
+ Suitable graphics
+ Those sound effects
+ In what it does, it's largely perfect.

My hat is cemented to my head
- The Two-player mode isn't anything to shout about. Good for a go every now and then though.
- Slightly patronising music
- After playing later platformers, which added new ideas onto the classic formula, you can't help wanting more variety.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/15/01, Updated 09/15/01


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