Review by Mercenary

Reviewed: 08/04/04

A Whole New World!

Mario and Luigi have returned to the Game Boy Advance in grand style with the sequel to the portable’s premier launch title, Super Mario Advance. This sequel contains a miniaturised and improved translation of one of the most exciting and innovative platform adventures created, the superlative Super Mario World. The fourth title in the legendary Super Mario Bros. series was the first and Nintendo’s flagship title for the Super NES and a true masterpiece.

This episode begins shortly after the conclusion of Super Mario Bros. 3, when the Marios and the rescued Princess Peach travel to Yoshi’s Island for some rest and relaxation. Yet it does not take long for the princess to be abducted AGAIN while the local wildlife is sealed inside enormous eggs by the plumbers’ persistent arch nemesis, the monstrous Koopa King Bowser. Now these sibling plumbers, along with a young dragon called Yoshi must rescue Peach from her captor and free Dinosaur Land in the process. The Game Boy Advance translation of Super Mario World is virtually identical to the original 1990 classic with some subtle changes and additions. The graphics are rather ropey and lack the sophistication of other Game Boy Advance titles, but there is still a refreshing clarity and purity to the cartoon style landscapes and characters. The wonderful soundtrack of the Super NES title has been almost perfectly preserved and is also accompanied with crystal-clear digitised vocal samples from the previous Super Mario Advance title. Yet the focus of the Super Mario Bros. series has always been firmly placed on unadulterated fun and longevity, giving you loads to do and new things to discover with every step.

With Super Mario World, Shigeru Miyamoto has created a meticulously-designed and compulsively playable title. This is a mind-meddling and varied title that continually throws new ideas at you-ideas that are as fresh and exciting as were previously in 1990. At no point is there a jaded sense that you have seen all everything this title has to offer before-even if you have mastered the original. Many of this title’s finest features have been borrowed from its prequels, particularly Super Mario Bros. 3 with its intuitive control system and precise collision detection. Dinosaur Land is massive, with a colossal nine worlds to explore and conquer. Some of the levels do not feature traditional horizontal scrolling, using vertical playing fields while others use forced scrolling. At the end of each world, you must confront a member of the Koopa royal family in a series of often frustrating (frustration with yourself, not the title) yet constantly challenging encounters. The map interface that appears between levels from Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Bros. Deluxe returns. This feature allows players to progress through Super Mario World via various means without having to follow a set path, creating a non-linear experience. This handy world map is also crucial to discovering this title’s secrets. Some of the course points are red and contain hidden goals or keyholes. Once found, new paths will be opened to other locations, including the Switch Palaces.

A whole new world
Super Mario World also builds on the strengths of its predecessors with unique features of its own. This title marks the debut of Yoshi, the tongue licking dragon that has become one of Nintendo’s most endearing characters. There are three different coloured tribes of Yoshi that the Marios encounter as their adventure progresses, each with its own unique special abilities. Once you have freed one from an egg, you will be able to leap on him and use his tongue to devour items and enemies. Switch Palaces are another new feature introduced in this title that is essential to completing all 76 levels and 96 exit points. As you progress through your quest, you will notice outlines of coloured blocks. Though these outlined blocks may seem obscure, these are in fact crucial to discovering this title’s secret locations. There are four types of coloured blocks that have a corresponding Switch Palace. When you hit a Switch, all the appropriate outlined blocks become solid with exclamation points on them. These then allow you to return to previous levels and get to areas that you would not normally be able to otherwise reach.

Anyone who has played a Super Mario Bros. title before will recognise power-up items such as the Super Mushroom that increase the siblings’ height, the Starmen for invincibility and the Fire Flower for flame throwing. These are joined by a new collection of exciting and innovative items, each one with unique abilities for the Marios to use as they progress through Dinosaur Land. One of the most magical moments in the original Super NES title was when the Marios caught a Cape Feather for the first time and could soar high into the skies above. This item extends on what the Marios could do with the famous Super Leaf from Super Mario Bros. 3, with the Marios being able to fly for longer. This item also has superior capabilities than the Super Leaf as a weapon as the Marios can slam themselves into the ground from a fast dive that can shake up and even wipe out nearby foes. Items collected can be stored in reserve at the top of the screen for later use if you are already in a powered-up condition, similar to the item screen from Super Mario Bros. 3.

As was the case with Super Mario 2 in the original Super Mario Advance title, the Game Boy Advance translation of Super Mario World contains some new features. The most prominent new feature is that you can now decide whether to play as the portly Mario or his lanky younger brother Luigi before each level begins. Like Super Mario Advance, each Mario brother has his own unique skills, strengths and weaknesses. Mario is faster and easier to control while Luigi is a stronger jumper. These differences give each sibling plumber their own very distinctive feel as you play. This title also contains both remakes of Mario Bros. from its predecessor in the Super Mario Advance series, Mario Bros. Battle and Mario Bros. Classic. As previously, up to four players can compete against each other using the Game Boy Advance Game Link Cables, a copy of this title or another one from the Super Mario Advance series. Unfortunately these remakes were not in the same league as Super Mario 2 in the previous instalment and this is even more so the case with this sequel. The previous title’s far too friendly save system is also returns and is a mockery of the original Super NES classics’ already generous save feature, further reducing its longevity. Despite this, playing Super Mario World is still a massive undertaking to try and find every exit and collect all 340 Dragon Coins.

Regardless of what format it is published on, Super Mario World is a classic because it is one of the cleverest, most addictive, yet fiendishly difficult and unforgiving titles of all time. It has secrets to discovery plus it is infuriating, exciting, complex and challenging in equal measure. It is hard think of a better-value title than this other than the next two titles in the Super Mario Advance series, even at the grotesque prices for a portable title that some charge. The greatest feature of this polished translation though is the fact that it is portable and can now be played at anytime, anywhere. If you have not had the great pleasure of playing this masterpiece yet, purchase it this instant and discover for yourself its greatness. If you do, you are to be really envied as you have got it all to come.

Super Mario World Super Mario Advance 2 is a miniature treasure and one of the finest titles available for any format. This title is huge and a genuine timeless classic that is a dream to play. Completing all 76 levels, finding all 96 exit points and collecting all 340 Dragon Coins will be a stern test for every player.

Did You Know?:
It took Shigeru Miyamoto fifteen months to develop the original Super Mario World Super NES title.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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