Last month marked not just the 20th anniversary of the SNES, but also the stupendous game that was packed in, Super Mario World. One of many high points in Mario’s career, to numerous fans it’s still his best game, with Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto going on record that it’s his personal favorite. We’ve got a huge amount of affection for it to this day, and we could write all day about how it’s a tour de force of classic game design, but it’s the little things that come to mind now.
As we picked up the game again, we were struck by just how many small touches added up for the rich tapestry that is Super Mario World. Come with us as we open up the scrapbook and reminisce about our time on Dinosaur Land.
Though we’d still say that stylistically Mario’s Raccoon Tail is the best flying power-up for Mario, you have to admit that the actual gameplay mechanic for World’s flight was the most fun. You had to time the up and down flow of Mario riding the air just right, allowing you to stay airborne as long as you maintained the rhythm. Plus, we loved how Mario looked like superhero when wearing the yellow fabric.
No matter how good you are at keeping Mario aloft, eventually it’s all got to come crashing to the ground. And regardless of what height he falls from, Mario isn’t just perfectly healthy, he becomes a weapon. The harder he crashes, the more damage he does to his enemies. Is it some magic power given to him by the cape, or is his gut that tough?
Well, maybe underwear is too far, as they more so look like they’re wearing night shirts. Known officially as Beach Koopas, it was quite a surprise hopping on a shell and seeing our enemy was just displaced from his carapace, not defeated. They looked even stranger once you saw them flying around sans casing. Still, this wasn’t totally new, as knocking a turtle out of its shell goes all the way back to the original Mario Bros arcade game.
Yoshi ended up being a great addition to Mario’s World, and eventually he went from helpful dino-ride to a full-fledged character starring in his own games. For all Yoshi’s great power-ups like spitting fireballs and flying, our favorite use for him was also the cruelest. While jumping with Yoshi you could launch off him at any time to get even more height, often arriving at some hard to reach platform. Sure, it left Yoshi to fall to his death, but he seems to be ok with the sacrifice.
As we’ve shouted from our lawn many times before, kids today don’t know how good they have it. In a standard playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas you may have 100 different save files, but with the release of World, we were happy with just one, as no main Mario game before it (in the US anyway) gave you that luxury. It allowed for an experience that could be enjoyed more thoroughly, instead of in one sitting.
The Super NES controller basically set the standard with its button layout, but Mario seemed perfectly fine with the two buttons on a NES pad. With the new input came new abilities, as Mario got a spin jump in addition to his standard hop. The spin launched Mario vertically into the air, and when he came down he did more damage than before, killing tougher enemies and breaking blocks. The spin has been an infrequently used power of his ever since, last seen in Mario Galaxy 2.
Mario 3 introduced the ability to carry items (mainly shells) from one place to the other, but all you could do was kick the item to your right or left. World let Mario toss items directly above him, a simple addition, but one that made a big difference. Not only could it hit item blocks that were seemingly out of reach, but mastering the vertical throw was essential to the final boss fight.
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