Review by Shirow

".......................Mario"

Oh no…Princess Toadstool has been kidnapped again ! ''Who you gonna call ?'' Mario, of course. And perhaps Luigi too if it suddenly turns out Mario isn't enough. Yeah, old news as usual, story pretty much the same but will everybody even care when the game in question is a mere platformer ? Mere ? Not really, since this is the first SNES edition of the series that literally boosted the gaming industry.

As Mario (or Luigi), it is yet again time to explore the various worlds of Bowser’s evil empire until you face the main villain himself in a battle that would make any popular fighting character totally freak out. However, Mario is no longer alone. He can now rely on Yoshi to take him through various levels. Yoshi, in addition to making it harder to dispose of Mario by providing him invulnerability instead of just dying, has his own attacks and differently-colored Yoshi’s yield different abilities besides just swallowing anything that comes your way. One will spit out fireballs to take care of on-coming enemies while another one will just fly the over the whole level and thus miss the excitement of exploring it.

Miyamoto certainly realized it would be pointless to bring drastic changes to the gameplay as this could chip off all the fun of the most popular platformer. Mario still jumps over enemies to kill them, can use fireballs by grabbing a flower and the cape is still the best item as it allows him to fly over tough parts and pay no heed to the dangers around him. The rare star will make Mario completely invincible for a brief period and this triggers the moment when you should just run on and forget about all the items, coins and power-ups that abound in every stage you have to check.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg though. Yes, the actions are pretty much similar to its NES prequel but there is so much more to do in Super Mario World. SMW is huge, insanely huge. One world alone consists of several levels, without forgetting the secrets exit and additional stages you are rewarded with if you are persistent enough. Should you beat the game once quickly, you’ll nevertheless feel compelled to come back and discover all the secrets that make this game such a unique experience.

In addition, some stages require you to find that secret exit if you want to move on. Luckily, these are not so hard to find but the sheer amount of those, including chambers with several power-ups, definitely adds to the fun. Mario even needs to locate keys and such a sight as that of little Mario messing with a key two times bigger than him is definitely a treat.

The worlds are varied and range from the delicious Chocolate World to the infamous Castles. Meanwhile, you’ll have to crack the mystery of the Forest of Illusion. Each level is suitably designed to show blatantly what it’s supposed to represent and while the stages do seem sparse in details, there’s nothing much to complain about. As a matter of fact, even though a single level may solely consist of the same background being shown over and over again, we have learnt to love this so long ago it isn’t even noticeable now.

SMW is colorful though, insanely colorful. Yet, this results in an unmatched atmosphere as you jump from oceans to forests to slippery grounds. Enemies are abundant but can be easily killed once you get the hang of it. Ranging from Bob-ombs to Thwomps without forgetting the ever popular Koopas, each is devilishly-drawn and comes with its own attack to try and make your quest harder. Each time you beat a Castle, Mario will also destroy it in a very singular and sometimes hilarious fashion.

Sweet melodies always accompany Mario throughout his long adventure but most of them sound disgustingly similar. You can’t however deny that they do their work marvelously which is to ensure that you never question the game’s premise. The traditional upbeat theme once the timer runs low is still present and should be enough to set you going should you suddenly decide to go as slowly as possible.

Sound effects never suit whatever action this is supposed to do. Whenever Mario jumps onto a tortoise and the latter turns over, you mysteriously hear a ''POP'' effect but even such far-fetched and strange onomatopoeia add to the game’s fun atmosphere. Arguing that these hamper the game would be as convincing as Pamela Anderson trying to convince you that she is indeed a talented actress.

Super Mario World is a stunning adventure where you, the gamer, can do whatever you wish. The concept of dying and reaching the Game Over screen is still beyond Miyamoto as lives are earned as easily as can be through coins. And that would be my main gripe with this game. SMW is too easy. If you are skilled player, you will never die and can end up having more than 60 lives if you take the time to explore all the levels. Even the bosses barely manage to pose a real threat and a dealt with very easily. A higher difficulty would certainly have made things even more interesting and made SMW even better.

But can this really be considered a fault in such a huge game ? I have no doubt everybody who has played SMW will cry out ‘No’ in unison and those who haven’t done so yet will rush to do so. And they’re right in doing so. SMW is one of those games that must absolutely be played. Even more, SMW is one of those games that crafted the whole industry and that alone should tell you how good it is.

~ Score : 9 ~


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/06/02, Updated 11/09/02


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