Retro Review: Super Mario World (SNES)
As the launch title for the Super NES, Super Mario World was one of the first video games I have recollection of playing in my childhood when I got the console in 1991. Time flies by fast, but even in present day, this is still one of of my favourite video games of all time.
Currently it is 2018, which means that the initial release of Super Mario World was 28 years ago - it was released in Japan in 1990! Many millennials would not have been even born yet. SMW seems to be one of the games that is remembered fondly by gamers that grew up in that generation. The enormous demand of the mini NES and SNES consoles shows that there is a strong appetite for nostalgia. Though to be honest, I am not sure many kids these days would be interested in classic games, but they definitely were a big part of gaming history.
As for the game itself, the 16 bit graphics still hold up pretty well for the current day. In recent times, there has been a renaissance for games in the style of 2D pixelated graphics. Just look at titles like Stardew Valley, Golf Story, and Octopath Traveler, it isn't all just about polygons and 3D graphics. Not that long ago, games that looked like that on a modern home console would have been laughed at.
The bright and clear presentation of the game makes it hold up nearly three decades after its original release. There is minimal lag during game play and the controls are smooth and responsive. SMW also has a memorable soundtrack that is still remixed occasionally in the present day Mario titles.
Super Mario World takes place in Dinosaur Land where the Mario crew are on vacation and Princess Toadstool is captured by Bowser once again. It's still a bit weird to see Princess Peach referred to as Princess Toadstool, given that she's been known as Peach now for a long time now! Given the location, dinosaurs are a major theme in this game, many enemies are dinosaurs, and also Yoshi is as well.
Many new concepts were introduced in Super Mario World - the introduction of the 7 Koopalings, Cape Feather for Mario to fly in the air, and of course, the introduction of Yoshi as Mario's partner! Yoshi can be brought around to any level except ghost houses and castles to guide you on your adventure.
Another big theme is the colour-coordinated Koopa Troopas and Yoshis leading to different abilities. When Yoshi eats a red shell he can breathe out three fireballs, blue shells give him wings to fly, and yellow shells let him do a pounding attack to defeat nearby enemies. But when a Yoshi is of a certain colour, he will have the ability regardless of the shell that is consumed, along with the main ability of that colour of shell. It would be nice to see this use of Koopa shells make a comeback in a future game, as even today, gamers often remember these iconic colour combinations.
I imagine I have completed this game with all 96 exits (100% completion) at least 10+ times, but this is always a game that I find quite enjoyable despite knowing where pretty much everything is. It is like the feeling of watching a movie you've seen before.
This difficulty level in SMW is definitely on the easier side. There were only a few areas I had trouble with as a child such as the fortresses, some castles, and parts of the special world. For the most part, the game is a breeze to get through once you have familiarized yourself with the mechanics. Even the final Bowser battle is not something that will be overly troublesome.
In contrast, I find the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES to be a significantly bigger challenge to complete. Perhaps it comes to level design, the SMW levels tend to be much more fair compared to what you would have encountered playing SMB.
Of all the 2D Mario titles I've played, Super Mario World is still remains my favourite in terms of the clear and crisp graphics and overall presentation. I think it's time for Nintendo to go back to this style instead of the New Super Mario Bros. style which has become a bit tired after numerous releases. The NSMB series started on the DS in 2006, made its way to the WIi in 2009, and the 3DS and Wii U in 2012. A lot of the elements in these games were very similar, Nintendo should get back to innovating their 2D Mario line similar to how they often do for the 3D series.
As we've seen in Super Mario Maker for the Wii U, classic graphic styles can still be great for modern games as well, and there's no reason Nintendo can't move back in this direction for the inevitable 2D Mario side-scroller that will come out for the Nintendo Switch.
Super Mario World has been re-released countless numbers of times since its original SNES release, it's been released on the Virtual Console on the Wii, Wii U and the New Nintendo 3DS, along with an enhanced remake on the Game Boy Advance, and most recently on the Super NES Classic Edition.
The GBA version had quite a few changes, most notably in that Cape and Fire Mario will downgrade to Super Mario on a hit, unlike the original where he goes directly to Small Mario, another major one is the ability to switch between Mario and Luigi, and with Luigi receiving a new sprite with a higher jump.
When you think about it, it's hard to believe a game like this was produced nearly three decades ago, Super Mario World was quite the masterpiece in a far simpler time. Games have changed a lot over the years, but this game is a classic that you can definitely come back to visit again.