Review by AWing Pilot
"Console selling Masterpiece."
Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
The year was 1991 and Nintendo was preparing to release their first console since the Nintendo Entertainment System of eight years ago to compete with the Sega Genesis; the rightly named Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The SNES as it was called among the fan base had everyone eager and willing to play the many games Nintendo was sure to throw at them. If the games were have as good as their previous work then they were in good shape. Finally the SNES was released bringing with it what many call the first prefect game, Super Mario World. This was the fourth game in Nintendo's flagship series and the first game that would show off what this new hardware could do. So was it perfect? Let's find out.
SMW featured unparalleled graphics for it's time. The sprites featured were of a detail unheard of then. Mario himself never looked better and animated like a dream. From his running to spinning to the revamped flying where his cape fluttered in the wind, it all looked great. Enemies now numbered in the dozens and animated equally as impressive. The most important and the first to catch your eyes were the new and improved environments. Taking what was started in Super Mario Bros 3 and fine tuning it, the environments here were breathtaking. The new engine allowed for the levels to quickly and effortlessly move from one type to the other and look great doing it. No more of the obligatory ice levels or desert levels that all tended to look the same. Now we had levels that grew outwards as you explored them and their uniqueness had you playing simply to see what surprise was coming next.
The graphics here are nothing short of amazing and this is due in part to the new console being able to display thousands more colors then it predecessor could and more importantly to a new design tool known as Mode 7. Mode 7 allowed for three layers of backgrounds that could each move separate of each other. This allowed for impressive scaling in the levels which gave it a true 3d look and feel. As you ran down a level the background moved realistically. This was a first of its time and really showed that we were in for some good games on the new console. Simply put Mario has never looked better.
As amazing as the graphics were SMW also had an equally robust sound department for you to wonder in. Mario himself had a whole slew of new sounds to go with his new abilities. Everything from running to hoping on the back of his new pal all sounded like it should albeit a tad cartoony but that was the feel it was going for. Enemies all made unique sounds for what they were doing be it attacking or standing. More importantly the sounds of the enemies could be heard before they appeared on screen which allowed you to prepare a course of action to how you were going to attack the creature or maybe avoid him all together. Only slight problem in sound effects is the sometimes found lag in the arrival of the sound effect for a certain action although it's worth noting that this has been fixed for the recent re-release on the GameBoy Advance. In the terms of the music true stereo sound was what we had on our hands here and it sounded great. No more of the standard tree tune or underwater tune now we had multiple tunes in sixteen channel stereo. The original tunes ranged from upbeat and quick for the levels found on Yoshis Island, to dark, slow and gloomy for the castles were the spawn of Bowser lurked. SMW even featured some well known classical tunes for its mysterious woods segment that also sounds great. Over-all real good work in the sound department and was a great sign of things to come.
Present here was everything that the Mario franchise had been made famous for including running, stomping, flying and swimming. All was reproduced faithfully and kept the classic Mario fell to them. Two big changes here in the game-play though. One being the over-all size of the levels, instead of a small run to the right before time ran out now levels grew in all directions that you had to travel in to beat the level. As the level changed direction so did the environment. It wasn't on common to travel through four or five different climates in the course of a single level. Even on top of that were multiple other types of levels including the standard underwater level to my personal favorite, Tubular, a level with no floor. The second and most famous of the changes was the inclusion of Yoshi the Dinosaur as Mario's sidekick. Hit an egg block and Yoshi sprang to laugh. Yoshi's came in four colors each with their own ability. Green was your standard Yoshi which featured no special offensive move but could run slightly faster then the others and depending on the color shell he ate adopt the ability of said colors Yoshi for a small time, Blue which is a fan favorite allowed the Yoshi to grow wings whenever a Koopa was consumed, Red allowed Yoshi to throw fireballs after eating an enemy and finally Yellow allowed for a powerful stomp. The use of Yoshi made the levels certainly easier and was required to access certain secret parts of the current level.
The map was split into different climates each guarded over by a son or daughter of Bowser. Go on one of the multiple paths to the castle and defeat the Koopa inside to open up the next exciting area. That's right each area had more then one way and difficulty to go to reach the boss. Once inside the castle you were presented to a host of more challenging elements then found in the levels which all leads up to a unique battle with a Koopa. Some times you had to defend yourself from a charging Koopa or bounce on of a small island floating in lava. Unique game play is the name of the game. Mario had been know for great platforming action and Super Mario World did as any good sequel should and built on what was right. Great Stuff here.
Your basic Mario story is found here but hey he was the first to use it. Princess Peach has been kidnapped once again by the evil King Bowser and you most rescue her from his castle. You'll work your way through eight areas each consisting of more then a dozen levels of which some are secret. Along the way you'll meet Yoshi whose kin have also been locked up by Bowsers children throughout the lands. Defeat the Bowser clan and save Peach. Sure it isn't original but in Mario's case is doesn't have to be but it would have been nice to see more originality past the inclusion of Yoshi.
Control was tight and responsive. SMW took the standard layout found in the original and expanded on it. Direction pad to move Mario/Yoshi. [B] was your sprint, [A} your jump, [Y] was used to grab items and [X] was your new spin ability. The triggers were used to move the screen [L]eft and [R]ight so you can get a peak of what was coming up. No complaints here in the control department.
In the beginning I asked if this game was perfect. Replace was with still is and you have your answer. Super Mario World continued the fine example of platforming that Mario had become know for. SMW went on to sell a half a million copies in 5 years due in part to being bundled to the new system which was showed a shining example of the games to come on the new system It showed that Nintendo had nothing to fear from rivals like Sonic or the upcoming Crash and that like always video games are supposed to be about having fun. Weather you dig up a copy for your old SNES or pick up the more recent port on the GBA video game fans owe it to themselves to play this game. It blew the doors open on the 16-bit era and although it came first few managed to live up to it's level.
Over-all Score: 10/10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 02/22/05
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