Review by Cold Metal

"A fantastic adventure awaits you in Dinosaur Land."

How would you feel if you had a persistent enemy that attempted to sabotage your every move? What would you do about it? Surely you have enemies, but odds are, you don't have anyone obsessed with making your life miserable. In the almost anarchal world of the Mushroom Kingdom, such mean-spirited antics are commonplace. Bowser has been trying to put the skids to the Mario Brothers and kidnap Princess Peach for ages.

As you can see, the Mario Bros. have it rough. After traveling to Dinosaur Land for a well-deserved vacation along with Princess Peach. Things turn ugly not long after their arrival, for Princess Peach turns up missing. The Mario Brothers proceed to search frantically, but with no results. They do come across an enigmatic dinosaur egg, however. This egg hatches shortly afterwards, and a baby dinosaur known as a Yoshi emerges to tell the plumbers of his gloomy tale.

According to this Yoshi, a group of turtle creatures came to Dinosaur Land and, using magic, managed to conceal Yoshi's friends into eggs, along with itself. It asks the Mario brothers for assistance, and knowing that these turtle creatures, called Koopas, are most certainly responsible for Princess Peach's disappearance, the Mario Bros. accept the challenge.

The hallmark Super Mario gameplay you've come to love returns in all its glory. The sixty-eight action-packed levels are loaded with instant-death chasms and expertly-placed enemies that, along with the superb design of the levels, make for an awesome gaming experience. The classic Mario enemies are all here, and they're accompanied by a new batch of foes. Many of these would-be adversaries can be dispatched with a jump, but others must be taken care of with disparate methods, while others still must be evaded altogether. Upon a mismatched collision with an enemy, Mario reverts to a previous, more feeble state. That is, if you were at least Super Mario. Regular Mario is relinquished of a life if he happens to take an unfortunate impact.

You'll find that there's a few new types of levels waiting to be explored. Ghost Houses, one of the new additions, are structures inhabited by Boos and other kinds of eerie antagonists. They tend to place the emphasis on thought rather than platforming skill, and are a welcome diversity from the more straightforward levels. Switch Palaces are small areas that contain a giant switch that will activate the specific blocks that pertain to its color. In terms of levels, however, the biggest addition is the wealth of secret levels Super Mario World has. Many levels have a hidden exit that opens up a secret level in the overworld. Finding all of these secret outlets is a challenge, and Mario must thoroughly explore the levels to uncover them all.

The Super Mushroom and Fire Flower are back, and with the same properties that you've become accustomed to. In addition to those aforementioned power-ups, Super Mario World introduces the Cape, a nod to the Raccoon and Tanooki Suits from Super Mario Bros.3. Mario can use the Cape to attack enemies, slow descend, and fly. When flying, you can hurtle to the ground with a speedy dive that will eliminate nearby enemies, or land in a more graceful manner by descending slowly, which has the added benefit of allowing Mario to hover over more ground before landing. The Cape is a very pleasant addition to Super Mario World, and is often the key to discovering those alternate exits.

Perhaps the greatest gift that Super Mario World offers is the inclusion of Yoshi, a young dinosaur with an insatiable appetite. There are special blocks in many levels that will release a Yoshi for Mario to ride, and riding one endows Mario with numerous advantages. Yoshi has more power to his jumps than Mario, and can also whip out its lengthy tongue to simply gobble up most enemies. Furthermore, if Yoshi eats certain varieties of Koopas, he can use employ special moves. Swallowing a red Koopa allows Yoshi to spit out fireballs, for example. There's also specially colored Yoshis that must be unlocked through the secret Star World, and each with their own exclusive trait. You're sure to find that Yoshi is very useful and an amazing gameplay device as well.

One of the factors that make the power-ups and Yoshi so great is how they're integrated into Super Mario World's levels. A good deal of the alternate exits can only be disclosed by usage of the Cape and Yoshi, and this makes for power-ups that transcend those found in many lesser platformers.

Super Mario World also brings a slightly differently-styled overworld to the table. Whenever Mario successfully completes a stage, a path to a new level opens up, so you can gradually complete the overworld map as you progress throughout the game. Get through a secret exit, and an alternate passage will unfold. With ninety-six exits to be found, Super Mario World is sure to give a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment once one has a completed overworld map.

Super Mario World's graphics, while not being outstanding like later SNES titles, are still great. Everything is noticeably better-looking and more detailed than any previous Mario game, and the levels are all quite colorful, taking full advantage of the SNES' coloring capabilities. The graphics still sport the same, familiar graphic style that the earlier Marios used, and that's the way it should be. The cartoon-ish graphic style is integral to the whimsical Super Mario experience.

The music is quite memorable, with multiple tunes that are sure to have you humming along with them. They all have that distinct Mario feel to them, and are perfectly suited to Super Mario World's levels, and whenever riding Yoshi, the level's music changes slightly, gaining a bit of a tropical feel to it. A rather nice touch, Nintendo.

Super Mario World is a challenging game. The first few worlds start of easy enough, and gradually the game begin to demand skill as you delve deeper into Dinosaur Land. There's a set of special levels available, and some of those are extremely difficult. Fortunately, the difficulty is not cheap difficulty, whereas the difficulty is created by appalling cameras, poor controls, and iniquitous gameplay. Super Mario World's challenge is purely made by the amazing design of the levels, and never once does the game's difficulty become discouraging.

There's plenty of replay value to be found. Once you've successfully finished Super Mario World, you still have all of the level exits to find and secret levels to beat. Finding all of those alternate exits will take some time. as you will hopefully not be using a guide, right? Once you've discovered all ninety-six different exits, Super Mario World offers up a special surprise. Even after doing all that, you'll undoubtedly return periodically to play through all of those timeless levels once again.

I believe that Super Mario World is the ultimate two-dimensional Mario platformer, and indeed, a game that truly does the Mario series proud. Throw all of Super Mario World's ingredients together, and you have a flawless formula for fun. With games like this under Mario's belt, it's no surprise that the Super Mario series is so revered, even to this day. The name of the world's most famous plumber has become synonymous with platform gaming, and if he can continue to deliver games on the same caliber as Super Mario World, things will stay that way for years to come.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/10/09

Game Release: Super Mario World (US, 08/13/91)

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