Review by clarkisdark
Hail to the king
I can't think of a game I have played and beaten as many times as Super Mario World. This is the quintessential 2D platformer, perhaps only bested by Super Mario Bros. 3. Admittedly, Super Mario World doesn't feel as old-school or as difficult as Mario 3, but I confess to being very biased, here. Super Mario World is actually a tricky game full of knee-jerk moments that leave you breathing, "Holy crap, I can't believe I'm still alive!" The problem is that many of us have just played it so many times, we've become desensitized to its intricacies.
Oh, but that's not a bad thing. The older Mario games have always excelled in being simple, straightforward fun. Newer games in the franchise, like Super Mario Galaxy, get bogged down with story, tutorials, and minigames that are a pain to redo. It's nice to have the chance to revert back to a day when Mario games didn't feel like they were holding your hand through the entire affair, when you could start playing right away with only the knowledge of how to jump. The rest you could figure out later. Like how convenient it is to carry a koopa shell with you through a level, or how hopping off Yoshi at the last second can save you from plummeting to your death. Super Mario World is great, because it's just as accessible to amateurs as it is to regulars. The latter just happen to see some of the game's many secret exits and the ridiculously difficult bonus levels at the "real" end.
Granted, the game is still only a couple hours long, but it always felt longer, because you could save your progress at participating ghost houses and fortresses instead of having to beat the whole thing in one sitting like in past Mario games. This made it easy to replay favorite levels without starting back at 1-1. The downside was that your number of lives always reset. The Virtual Console's instant save feature, however, lets you keep your 1-ups (and keeps you from running to the nearest ghost house whenever you need to save). In the end, it's actually really nice to have Super Mario World on the VC.
But this does come with one caveat: you need a classic controller to get anything out of the game. There's no remote-only option when there should be, and Nintendo really screwed up the Gamecube controller support by not allowing you to change the button configuration. By default, the run and jump buttons are placed so far apart, there's no conceivable way to comfortably push them both at the same time.
Yeah, I know, you've already played this one. We all have. And maybe you feel like you've outgrown Mario and don't want to bother with him again. That's a narrow-minded way to look at video games, because Super Mario World is rich in old-school charm and is an absolute blast to play, year after year. The only reason I give this game a 9.5 instead of a 10 isn't because I'm a bitter reviewer who refuses to believe in a perfect score. To me, Super Mario World is such a game. Its presence on the Virtual Console, however, really shows the flaws in the service. You have to--you absolutely have to--play this game with a classic controller. Forcing players to buy a $20 peripheral is just not cool. So if you don't already own a classic controller for whatever reason, you might want to think twice before throwing the points down for Super Mario World.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Super Mario World (US, 02/05/07)
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