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Super Mario World (SNES) artwork

Super Mario World (SNES) review

"It's something of human nature to form rifts and divisions over situations. When you're older, serious issues like divorce, abortion, religion, etc. cause people to choose a side and defend/attack zealously. When you're younger (or just a geek), less important things occupy your time, so less important things cause you to rally for a side. For modern youth, including my own childhood, this behavior was embodied much in the form of the Sega Vs Nintendo argument. "

It's something of human nature to form rifts and divisions over situations. When you're older, serious issues like divorce, abortion, religion, etc. cause people to choose a side and defend/attack zealously. When you're younger (or just a geek), less important things occupy your time, so less important things cause you to rally for a side. For modern youth, including my own childhood, this behavior was embodied much in the form of the Sega Vs Nintendo argument.

And I was on Sega's side, period.

If you can ignore the fact that a hedgehog can't really personify anything, you can then buy into the common notion that Mario and Sonic personified the greatest battle gaming ever saw. Sega Vs Nintendo, Genesis Vs SNES, Sonic Vs Mario. Since most kids weren't spoiled enough to have both, you had to see the line drawn and jump to one side of it. You had to rally for your side's victories, and cover for its losses. And you had to participate in debates of exactly who was better, Mario or Sonic. Anyone, such as myself, would poke fun at Mario's cartoonish and unintimidating persona, all the while ignoring that he'd been in some good to great games, the best of which was the enviable Super Mario World.

The Game

As much as any fan of either side hated to admit, both Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World were both excellent games that each offered areas of noticeable superiority over eachother. In fact, both games would cause an outright case of denial from the other side; here is the dissertation of what made Sonic fans (such as myself) bleed from the ears:

Super Mario World, even for being the fourth (fifth? sixth?) game in the series, was still completely unprecedented. Never had a game been so huge... seriously huge (and all you RPG nuts that didn't exist until 1997 can just play the silent game rather than email me some letter about some RPG that was bigger). Super Mario World, while not containing levels of immense size, contains levels of immense quantity. GINORMOUS quantity. I'm not going to attempt to count; suffice to say, you're given a large map, and each section zooms into a large area full of levels and secrets to explore.

And exploring is fun. In fact, fun is the most apt way to describe Mario's fused gameplay; take the elements of Mario common to all the games (running around, hopping on top of enemies, exploring the fairly linear levels) and throw in two very key elements (Yoshi and the cape), and you're left with a killer-fun way to traverse the grotesquely large canvas that is Super Mario World.

Yoshi is the most notable addition, and throws the whole game for a loop; he can swallow enemies, stomp on them, and protect you from dying. He can be ''upgraded'' to fly, breath fire, as well as other tasks; mastering Yoshi is easy as well as key to discovering the game's many, MANY secrets.

The aforementioned cape allows Mario to fly, as well as mysteriously slow Mario's descent simply by flapping in the breeze. Mastery of this crucial gameplay element is also key to unlocking the game's best.

And it's here where the game's true worth shows; it's not in the levels themselves, but rather their secrets. The levels are good, but not amazing, in design, and somewhat sparse and often linear to the extreme. They are not boring at all, mind you, but they showcase basically one small concept rather than a large collection of ideas concerting in a big, expansive level (as is the case in Sonic). Areas contain a smattering of similarly themed, yet still different, levels to traverse and accomplish the goal.

Around half (give or take) of the levels have two ways out of them, and the second way is the secret factor that makes this game thrive; find the second way, and you can unlock a new path, or bonus level, or hidden area, or shortcut previously out of reach. Finding these, playing the levels over and over to gain every secret, is what makes Super Mario World so phenomenally replayable. It's almost an addiction, and truly nothing before had ever been so big. Even the secret levels can have secret levels. And for the first time, a game lets you go pack and play any level you've already played. This sort of access to the game was revolutionary, and much appreciated in any game that mimics it.

The Delivery

The striking battle between Mario and Sonic was waged most noticeably in the visual front. Both Super Mario World and Sonic the Hedgehog were graphical bombshells that each took shots at eachother. Mario came on the system more adept at graphical effects, and came out swinging.

Levels in Super Mario World are brilliant and pastel. Colors are fruity and singular; soft and, again, singular. Absent is the type of spectrum play Sonic employs, where like colors are scattered about various chunks of background. Present is a big, colorful presentation where objects are each treated with a soft, unique tone. Mario is gifted with animation beyond his years (as was Sonic), and the game is littered with what would become the SNES' hallmark effects...

...And ''littered'' is the best word for it. See, the special effects the Super Nintendo utilized were rarely (if ever) used for any functional purpose; they were there simply to drop your jaw. So when a boss zooms in and out, he pretty much does it for no reason. When Mario rotates around, it isn't really for anything more than to look good. But it does look good, and makes me wish sprite technology hadn't been pretty much abandoned.

The Truth

Mario and Sonic always needed eachother, the way any great hero/villain combination needs eachother. When you're too young to understand this appreciation, you just revel in your resultant ability to love your home team even more. When you mature a little, you can comprehend why they're important to eachother, and why they're excellence bred excellence in eachother.

I wouldn't admit it as a child, but Mario had its legs up on Sonic just as much as Sonic did over Mario. I still think Mario's character could use a little testosterone, and I think Tails is a million times better a sidekick than Luigi ever was, but that detracts not one bit from the quality that Super Mario World embodies. It was platforming reborn just as much as its counterpart was, and stands tied with Sonic as the most you could ever learn about gaming in one cartridge.

=Box Art=

Abysmal. SMW's box is a bland picture of Mario, donning his yellow cape, atop Yoshi. Some clouds, some blue. Plus, SNES boxes don't age well. Blech.

ethereal's avatar
Community review by ethereal (March 14, 2004)

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