Review by Rottenwood

"Winner, And Still Champion"

With the release of 'Super Mario World' on the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo has accomplished two feats: making a legendary game into portable form for older fans like myself, and also letting a new generation of gamers discover the greatest 2-D platforming game ever created. With some of the junk that's currently littering next-generation consoles - like 'State of Emergency' and 'WWF Raw' - it can be refreshing to play a title that shines where it counts: in game play. Mario has never needed shock value or gimmickry to succeed, because his games are actually, you know, FUN. :) And 'Super Mario World' is the best of the best, serving as the evolutionary apex of the 'Super Mario Bros.' games and adding plenty of new stuff for platforming freaks to snack on. Anyone who calls themselves a hardcore gamer and hasn't played this game is very, very delusional. :)
Gee, guess what? Peach has been captured again by the wily Bowser, and needs to be rescued. You almost have to respect Shigeru Miyamoto for his guts in using the same dusty plot again and again. You'd think that Peach would learn how to avoid getting kidnapped after the first ten times, but hey, I guess Bowser just has a knack for capturing royalty. Bowser's bratty kids have also kidnapped some baby Yoshis, who Mario will also have to rescue. I'm not sure why these Yoshi youngsters are such a high priority, since the main Yoshi that Mario rides seems to crap out eggs at an amazing rate. But hey, it's a Mario game, and anything cute and in peril must be rescued at all costs! Besides, if Yoshi and Peach are left to wallow in Bowser's clutches, who will Mario play against in 'Mario Golf?' Anyhow, Mario will trek across many worlds, with a stunning variety of environments to explore.
Mario is still packing the moves that made him a legend. He can jump on foes to defeat them, except in a few cases. (Anything spiky or on fire should probably be avoided.) Eating a mushroom will make him stronger, and allow him to take a hit from an enemy. Once he's mushroomed up, Mario can uncover magic flowers that let him shoot fireballs at his enemies. Added to 'Super Mario World' are feathers that grant Mario a cape that gives him the ability to fly. Flying is a lot of fun in 'Super Mario World,' and skilled players will learn to manipulate the cape so that Mario can stay in the air indefinitely. Little extra moves - like the spin jump, or the dive bombing move used while flying - add a lot of spice to the already-rich control scheme. There's just something magical in the 'Mario' formula that can't be explained.
Yoshi, Mario's new friend and steed, offers a lot to the 'Super Mario World' interface. Mario can use Yoshi to eat enemies, or feed him berries, which will eventually cause Yoshi to lay an egg containing something useful. Also, should Mario be hit while riding his trusty green friend, he will simply dismount and Yoshi will be sent running, causing Mario no damage. Best of all, Yoshi gains extra powers by swallowing colored Koopa shells, including a fireball blast, or the ability to fly. Jumping off of Yoshi's back can be a great last-second move to avoid falling into a pit. (Sure, your little friend ends up falling into the pit on his own, but what can you do?) The game just seems more fun with Yoshi around, you know?
One of the best aspects of 'Super Mario World' is how open-ended it is. You move Mario around on a world map, and can play (or re-play) any stage that you've opened. New levels are revealed by finding exit gates in existing stages. Most of the exits are fairly obvious, and are placed at the end of each level. Simply completing these will allow you to complete the game in a standard, linear fashion. However, finding the game's more well-hidden exit gates will open up short-cuts, secret stages, and even the magical Star Road. You could try to find every exit, or use the Star Road to beat the game as quickly as possible. There's a wide variety of paths available to the player, and many exciting secrets to dig up. One of the nicer features of this Game Boy Advance update is the exit checklist, that shows you which gates you've uncovered. Older gamers who've played the Super Nintendo version may scoff at such hand-holding, but they're welcome to simply not use the checklist and try to find all 96 exits the hard way.
It's hard to peg a difficulty level for this game. Since I had already beaten this game on the Super Nintendo about 15 times before playing this version, there was little in the way of challenge for me. It's fairly easy, I suppose, with a lot of extra lives and power-ups. Still, I was born and raised on platformers... newer gamers may find 'Super Mario World' a bit more difficult than my generation will. The game is more about fun and discovery then hair-raising challenge, anyhow.
'Super Mario World' is practically a clinic of quality gaming. The pacing is unbelievable; a perfect mix of dangers and rewards, keeping the action moving without getting hectic. Level design is equally staggering, and players will have to search carefully if they wish to find the five dragon coins located in each stage. The variety of enemies is fantastic, and the quality of villains is only hampered by Bowser's children, who are rather easy to beat for being the bosses of each world. Aspiring game designers should study this title carefully as a shining example of what makes video gaming a fun hobby.
There aren't that many changes in this version of the game, as compared to the Super Nintendo edition. The most notable is the addition of Luigi, who can be used in lieu of Mario on any stage you choose. He carries over the abilities he had in 'Super Mario Bros. 2,' which include a huge wobbly jump that lets him reach higher places easily. He's a bit tricker to control than his brother, and may provide an extra challenge for veterans of the game. Also, you can now save anytime you like on the world map, which is nice.
'Super Mario World' looks as great as ever, with an almost staggering amount of level variety, and bright, colorful graphics. The visual appeal of the 'Mario' universe is in full display, and it oozes fun from every angle. This game is obviously the creation of a true artist who let his imagination guide him. Let's hope Miyamoto never loses his inner child.
The classic music of 'Super Mario World' is a bit tinny on the Game Boy Advance hardware, but it can't be helped. Still, these catchy tracks have stood the test of time, and they make you hum along like you always did. The small voice samples from the first 'Super Mario Advance' game are here again, adding a little extra humor to the proceedings. (''Mama mia!'')
What else can I say? This is one of my five all-time favorite console games. It's an amazing mix of quality game design, imagination, and sheer unadulterated fun. Gamers who won't play this title because it's too 'kiddie' or whatever should take a hard look at why they even call themselves gamers to begin with. I wasn't going to give it a perfect score at first, since this is a port of a Super Nintendo game and not a new, original game. But how can I give the best 2-D platformer ever anything less than a 10? This is video gaming at its most pure and powerful. Drink it up and enjoy.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 02/25/02, Updated 02/25/02

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