My history with this game has been me buying it a few times on Virtual Console, playing the first world, then never touching it again. I always thought it was a fairly standard, but solid Mario game, and that playing it to the end might have some challenges, but would be very doable and enjoyable.
Instead, I found a game that is the epitome of ’90s platforming design, with plenty of cheap deaths and frustrating mechanics that ended up with a game that was as frustrating as it was fun.
Super Mario World feels like an evolution of Super Mario Bros. 3 more than any other previous Mario game, if only because of the world map and larger Bowser army presence. There’s also a huge variety of power-ups and enemies that have made a gigantic impact on the Mario series since, even if they don’t look exactly the same later on.
And all of that evolution makes for a great, solid gameplay experience. Mario is responsive, and everything is communicated pretty nicely to the player through design and example, rather than explicitly telling you (though there are tutorial boxes at certain points, you can skip them).
My main problem with Super Mario World can be split into two parts- the level design, and death having too much consequence. There were too many times in the game where a level would lead me to believe one thing was happening, only to subvert that expectation and lead me to a death, and sometimes a game over.
And if you’ve been reading my reviews, you know that I really admire when a death gives an opportunity to learn and grow in the game. But Super Mario World is a game with lives, and when you’re dealing sometimes brutal ’90s era difficulty, it just leads to frequent game overs.
While a game over only starts you at the beginning of the world you’re on, it does mean that if you die during a later level, anything you’ve learned will take a while before it can be applied. Basically leading you to getting rusty before you get there, and potentially getting another game over.
The addition of Yoshi to the mix is also interesting to see in its most earliest form. I’m much more used to a Yoshi with a flutter jump and eggs, so playing this iteration is a huge step backwards.
The art style for Super Mario World is actually impressive, and a giant leap forward from the previous NES titles. Enemies have a ton of energy in their movement and designs, with plenty of visual cues to help the player know who does what.
Each level and world also has a pretty distinct aesthetic to it, including the classic grassy starting area, a dark forest, plenty of castles and haunted houses, and even the classic Choco Mountain. While I didn’t play this game as a kid, I do remember the themes in Super Mario Kart, so it was good to finally have context for them!
This part almost goes without saying, but the music in Super Mario World is classic, and hearing it all really makes you realise how much it’s influenced the soundtracks from here on out.
But my favourite part of the music, is how extra percussion fills out the tracks when you ride Yoshi. It just gives the personality a big kick, and I’m pretty sure it’s one of the first games to have the music change depending on how you play.
This track will always be my favourite, though:
I’d almost say Super Mario World is worth getting and playing, just as part of the history of the Mario franchise. But unless you have a strong nostalgic attachment to the game, I’d recommend many of the newer Mario games over this one. It was ground-breaking at the time, but the evolution of the series just makes Super Mario World looking much more outdated.
Is it worth the money? ($10.40 AUD – Wii U eShop)
Is it worth your time?