Review by discoinferno84

"Come again just to start afresh, once again to find a home..."

Have you ever left your hometown? Have you ever looked out your window at night, wondering what the world is real like out there in that great unknown? Maybe you yearn for an adventure, an epic quest through strange new places. Perhaps you wish to travel the world over before you die. There are countless cultures and beautiful places all over this planet called earth. While some of you may be a little too young to travel over countries, it's a fair bet that you'll visit some new places at least once in your life. It's all a matter of seizing an opportunity and firmly grasping it with one hand and carrying a travel bag in the other. No one knows what you'll find when you step out of the familiar territory of home. You'll have to find out for yourself. In the meantime, that faint calling of the outside world beckons you ever closer to adventure.

Take the Mario Brothers for example. After years of dedicating their life to the safety of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario and Luigi finally decided to take a break from his platforming heroics and go on a vacation. They've taken Princess Toadstool along for the ride to a faraway land called Dinosaur Land. But as the plumbers are busy getting a tropical tan, Princess Toadstool vanished, presumably kidnapped by some evildoer. You'd think that after all of their misadventures our favorite heroes would pay more attention to their royal friend. But before the dynamic duo can set off on yet another rescue mission, they come across Yoshi, a dinosaur with his own tale of foul play. After his defeat in the previous Mario game, Bowser has decided to set up shop in Dinosaur Land, with a newly revived desire for domination. Recognizing a common enemy, the Mario Brothers and Yoshi team up to rescue Princess Toadstool and save the world from Bowser's evil clutches.

So the plumbers are back to save the day. Unlike the previous installment of the Mario series, you'll have to trek across the vast world of Dinosaur Land, blazing paths of completed levels and alternate directions. In order to make any new levels appear on the massive world map, you'll have to beat every area that is put in your path, thus creating the map as you go. The game start off on Yoshi's humble island, but eventually you'll have to cross the vast Donut Plains and discover the Star Road, ultimately wandering into Bowser's dark domain. Each level consists of a long expanse of terrain, including countless new enemies and tons of platforming bliss. Unlike the smooth and straightforward levels of old, the areas of Super Mario World come complete with sloping hills, deep pits and tons of hidden areas for you to discover. As you're jumping around these fresh new levels, you‘ll have to face wild dinosaurs, giant ghosts, massive Bullet Bills before you can make it to the end of the level. And if you manage to maneuver your way through these seemingly insurmountable odds, you'll get to face off against one of Bowser's deadly children. Tons of levels later, it'll be between just you and Bowser for the fate of Dinosaur Land.

While platforming finesse isn't enforced as heavily as previous Mario games, there is still a fair amount of difficulty with regards to the army of baddies standing in your way. Even with their signature jumping attacks, the Mario Brothers are clearly outmatched. Sure, there are the Super Mushrooms, Fire Flowers and Starmans that come standard with nearly any 2D Mario game. But the newest addition to the arsenal is the Cape Feather, a handy little item that bestows magic capes upon our heroes. A nod to the Super Leaf from Super Mario Bros. 3, the Cape Feather allows you to fly through the multicolored skies of Dinosaur Land, letting you coast easily over obstacles and entrenched enemies. Also, the cape can be used for both offensive and defensive gameplay, allowing you take out enemies with a single spin or wiping out projectiles in midair. With plenty of opportunities to obtain power ups, the epic quest against evil will be just a little easier to endure.

But despite this godly arsenal, the Mario Bros. will still have one nasty fight ahead of them. Thankfully, Yoshi is right by their side to dish out his own brand of heroics. This lovable lizard has a tongue that can swallow coins, berries, certain blocks, and nearly anything else that isn't bolted down. And unfortunately for Bowser's goons, Yoshi has an insatiable appetite for bad guy flesh. What better way to annihilate some pesky enemies than by eating them whole? If the new hero happens to eat certain turtle shells, he can unleash a few varied attacks to wipe the screen clean of any potential threats. Since our heroes can ride Yoshi in almost any regular level, it's a fair bet that you'll have plenty of chances to use Yoshi's mighty mouth muscles. With this lethal combination of plumber and dinosaur, Bowser has no idea what he's in for.

As your ultimate quest against the evil tyrant unfolds, you'll get to experience the raw and untamed beauty of Dinosaur Land. There are dozens of levels, each with their own unique look and feel. If you manage to find a few seconds of peace in between platforms, take a look at the wonderfully rendered backgrounds and terrain. The levels are massive and filled with vibrant colors and lively enemies. While some of the enemies lack the detail that we've seen in later SNES games, the Mario Bros. have been redrawn with fresh new animations and detail. You can practically see the puffs of Mario's moustache as he tries to save the day. Also, his new Spin Attack offers a powerful and entertaining twist to the tried and true jump attack. Unlike the worlds of the previous Mario game, Dinosaur Land is broad and spread out, allowing you to enjoy the scenery as you traverse the world map. For older fans, you'll recognize the signature sound effects that we've grown to love. There's also an all-new soundtrack, making great use of the SNES's audio capabilities. When you blend these graphics and audio together, you've got a quality presentation that seems so much an improvement from series' humble beginnings.

I miss this game. Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the era in gaming when having a new 2D Mario game was the talk of the town. Whatever happened to the times when all you needed was excellent platforming action and a cool little dinosaur as a sidekick? While the current trends sees Mario and company playing golf, driving karts, and having multiplayer extravaganzas, it's a real mystery if the Mario series will ever return completely to its platforming roots. Since the chances of something like that happening are pretty slim in today's gaming, at least older gamers can enjoy this game and the other Mario classics on the re-releases on the Gameboy Advance. But for me, nothing will replace the fun of flying through the air or watching Yoshi consume an obscene amount of enemies. Who knows what the folks over at Nintendo have in store for their flagship mascot. But no matter what happens, Super Mario World will always be a joy to play.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/03/05

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