Super Mario World Review
Hailed by many as the best launch title Nintendo has ever produced, let’s take a look at the Good, Mixed and the Bad of Super Mario World.
SMW represents the peak of platforming physics and control of Mario in the 2D Mario games. It tweaks SMB3’s control scheme ever-so-slightly, and avoids the overly floaty feel of the New Super Mario Bros series. The result gives you a fluid and precise Mario to control, whether you’re running and jumping along on foot, riding Yoshi or flying with the cape. The controls allow for a satisfying flow to the game that hasn’t been beaten by a 2D Mario game since, even despite the lack of additions like wall-jumping and butt-stomping.
Possibly the most memorable aspect of the game is the music. Amazingly, every song in the game is a variation of the same melody, composed by the legendary Koji Kondo entirely on one electric keyboard. Every Mario game has good music, but I’d argue SMW has the finest score of them all. Whether it’s underwater, in a castle, a haunted house, a mansion or a forest, each respective melody fits the atmosphere perfectly.
Art and style
There’s a reason the Super Mario World aesthetic is the most popular on Mario Maker. It’s a lovely looking game, with vibrant bold colours with nice thick black outlines, and charmingly designed characters. The enemies have so much character you almost feel bad for killing them. If SMW was released today it would still hold up.
With a grand total of 96 exits in the game (with some levels having secret exits) SMW is a whopper. The best part though, is there’s no filler, with each of the seven distinct areas having their own unique charm and flavour. Playing through SMW never feels like a means to an end, rather than means itself a joy to experience – it’s one of the only games where I’ve found myself replaying levels I’ve already completed and discovered everything in, just to enjoy the flow of the controls and the sights of my surroundings. The only other Mario game to do that for me is Super Mario 64, with the newer 2D entries not coming close to holding the same appeal.
SMW also has the best overworld map of any Mario game. But it’s not just how pleasing it is to behold or how easy it is to navigate, it’s how well connected it all is. Many levels have a secret exit, which when opens up another path on the map, to a new level or new zone of levels. It’s so satisfying to see a new path unlock when a new goal has been reached, and reaching all 96 exits is an addiction.
Something the later 2D and 3D Mario games have lost is the ability to tackle the same levels in different ways. Some levels in SMW might have an extra secret cloud that can only be reached if you have a cape – but the cape might not be available on that level. So you’d have to go back to another level, get a cape, and reach it that way. Some levels might need a certain colour of Yoshi to reach a certain point. SMW gets this variety just right, and I wish recent Mario games did more of this.
The ghost houses are such a good addition to the game. In a ghost house, you don’t just have to get to the end of a level – but you have to do so in a certain, unconventional way, and you have to work out how to make it in the time limit. Each zone has a Ghost House, and they serve as a great pace-changer. Also Boo is a great enemy.
One thing the New Super Mario Bros series does do well is its multiplayer. SMW has 2-player, letting the other player play as Luigi, but it’s a strict turn-taking affair. Still fun, but not as fun as consecutive on-screen play would be.
SMW is not as difficult as Super Mairo Bros 3, 2 or 1. Only the odd level, such as the infamous Tubular in the endgame Special Zone, serves up a real challenge for skilled players. The majority of the main levels can be breezed through, and the final battle with Bowser is a doddle. It’s a shame, as SMW’s mechanics are so on-point, it would have been great to push them to the limit. The add-on packs for the more recent 2D Mario games with super-hard levels are great, and it’s a shame Nintendo didn’t recognise this appetite for high level difficulty back in the day.
They’re just not as good as the other levels, I’m sorry. The music goes some way to making up for it, but there’s still a jolt of disappointment when you discover the next level is a water-themed one.
The pinnacle of Mario’s 2D platforming exploits. For the few that haven’t played it yet it’s a must-buy. 10/10.