20 things we still love about Super Mario World 20 years later

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.

Flying with the cape

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.

Crashing to the ground after flying

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?

Koopas in their underwear

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.

Jumping off Yoshi to safety

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.

Spin jumping

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.

Tossing things straight up

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.


  • chrisat928 - September 2, 2011 4:04 p.m.

    20 years ago? Christ I'm old.
  • DecoyOctorok - September 2, 2011 4:55 p.m.

    I was 7 when the SNES was released and my nostalgia meter is off the charts right now after looking at those images from the game manual. Except for the Dreamcast, no console has ever wowed me in the way that the SNES did. The graphics were just such a huge jump up from the NES. It's amazing how much the games industry has changed since those days.
  • DryvBy - September 2, 2011 4:13 p.m.

    Ugh, same here. I remember when this came out and when I beat it. Why can't my memory remember last night?
  • MaynardJ - September 2, 2011 4:29 p.m.

    Wait a sec... there was a vertical throw?? Back in the day I borrowed this from a friend without the manual. I beat Bowser by flying up with the cape. and tossing the downed enemy at him at the exact right time while coming down. It took me ages, and I could have saved a lot of trouble just knowing about this move. Also, I don't think I knew about punching through fences and how to properly fly using the cape either. I have to play this again SOON!
  • tomthespesh - September 2, 2011 4:45 p.m.

    Dammit this is the only Mario Game I haven't played in my 19 years on this planet. I had a NES but went straight to the N64, I feel a trip to the virtual console might be in order...
  • lilspooky - September 2, 2011 4:48 p.m.

    Super Mario World is still my Fav Mario game. 20 years! Damn it, im old!
  • MonocledYaoGuai - September 2, 2011 4:53 p.m.

    Mario World is still my favorite Mario game of all time. Awesome article!
  • gondarpwns - September 2, 2011 4:57 p.m.

    Man now ima go play my SMW rom
  • CitizenWolfie - September 2, 2011 5:08 p.m.

    This was my first ever console game and the first I ever finished 100%. Or *96'd at least. I cannot describe how much this game means to me.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 2, 2011 5:24 p.m.

    Oh by the way GR, you do realise you can complete SMW with only one castle and Bowser's castle finished? Thank you Star World!
  • juicenpancakes - September 2, 2011 5:38 p.m.

    Truly one of my top five all-time favorite games, I have to beat it at least twice a year. It's genuinely as great now as the day it came out.
  • D0CCON - September 2, 2011 5:54 p.m.

    I played a GBA port of this. I remember liking it a lot. I also remember hating Magikoopa, so I can't agree to everything on this list.
  • 510BrotherPanda - September 2, 2011 8:09 p.m.

    1. The word "Macikoopa" is misspelled in the Magikoopa entry. 2. The music in the Ghost Houses would sometimes slow to a crawl because of the Boos; Brett pointed out that the SNES sometimes couldn't handle the extra stuff, like in Star Fox. 3. Even after all these years, I have NEVER betrayed Yoshi; I always died with him.
  • Redeater - September 2, 2011 8:35 p.m.

    Hmm. Maybe I missed it but one of the things I loved about this game was the ability to take multiple exits on a level. Damn you Forest of Illusion! I spent a long time trying to star this game when I found out that damn ghost house has 2 of the same exits!
  • Thequestion 121 - September 2, 2011 10:43 p.m.

    Just an utterly perfect game, it's still one of my favorite Mario games :)
  • Hauntor - September 2, 2011 11:19 p.m.

    The GBA version is like 2 feet from me. NOW I MUST PLAY IT.
  • jmcgrotty - September 3, 2011 2:46 a.m.

    *bangs his head out of frustration on the grapes he is eating* "As we’ve shouted from our lawn many times before, kids today don’t know how good they have it." NO! No No No No! Kids today don't have it good. the flood of autosaves and routine save points is a black mark on the industry, basically just dumbing down games for todays players (I mean, come on. Anymore, the general formula of playing a game is 1) play game. 2) save. 3) fight. 4a) If you die or use too many items, restore last save. 4b) if you win the fight, run back 2 screens and save again at that save point you just passed. Can't lose the positive results from even just 1 kill. God forbid that you have to kill 5 enemies in order to get back to where you died, rather than it being just the most recent save. They've sacrificed actual challenge in gameplay just to beg lesser players to play (Yep, the fun buzzword of the industry today, "Casual gamer," started long before the Revolution). Jucienpancakes, you said you still need to beat it twice a year or something. That isn't really saying much. Beating the game twice would just take up like 22 minutes of your life. (OK, that was grossly exaggerated).
  • shawksta - September 3, 2011 3:14 a.m.

    SWM was definitly a title no one will forget, it was awesome,challenging and most of all fun! While we are getting Yoshis island and SMB 3, I really hope SMW is one of the free gba games for 3DS ambadsadors.

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