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Super Mario World was first released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in the late 80's as the spiritual successor to Super Mario Brothers on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) some five years previous. Although the intervening years had seen Super Mario Brothers 2 and 3 released on the NES, Super Mario World was the first Mario game to return to the long-level and exploration format of the original game.
The game then saw release on the GBA as Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 and more recently on the Wii's Virtual Console.
Platform games task you with getting from point A to point B. The world you journey through is usually based on different levels, and populated with enemies, switches and lifts to be negotiated. As you work through each level you pick up various collectables that accrue score, special abilities and access to hidden areas.
Super Mario World extended the largely horizontal levels of Super Mario Brothers and extended them vertically. This provided a huge space in which to explore. Happily this was a space that was as densely populated with hidden blocks, doors, coins and enemies as the previously worlds. In additional, the over world map that connected each level together was larger and more complex than before. Now, many levels had two (or more) exits that would grant access to previously hidden sections of the map.
The enemy populace of these worlds had also benefited from more attention to detail. Enemies were now more interactive and could be dispensed with in a number of ways. The Koopa tortoises for instance could be jumped on to send them flying from their shell, whereupon the empty shell could be picked up and thrown at the naked Koopa. As this extends to the other characters of the cast (for this really does feel like a show) the game creates an almost tactile sense of interaction for the player.
The sense of discovery when you finally figure out how to get to that hidden level, combined with a real feeling of wonder as the tiny over world opens up into a massive explorable playground make Super Mario World a unique experience.
This is testament to what Nintendo is best at, creating things that are fun to play with and then providing a compelling context in which to experience them. Here, the simple running, jumping and stomping of Mario is taken to new heights with some masterly level and enemy design.
A singe Super Mario World level can be completed in a few minutes, although once you have completed one you are likely to want to try a few more.
The game as a whole can be completed (read: get to and defeat the end level boss) in twelve hours or so. But this is likely to only have covered only a small proportion of the games levels. Going back and replaying levels to access the secondary exits is one reason to keep playing whilst finding all five Yoshi coins on each level is another that will keep you occupied for a good while longer. I for instance have been playing the game on and off for a good 15 years and I still have a fare few coins to find and locate.
The cartoon Mario universe in which the game is set will appeal to younger players, although there are some slightly spooky ghost and fiery boss levels. Older players will appreciate the experience as a classic among video games, whilst real experts will set to collecting all those coins.
Novice and very young players may find the exacting jumps, runs and attacks a little taxing at first. But provided they have the required hand eye co-ordination most players will soon acclimatise to the experience.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: