Back in 1991, a Nintendo console launch wouldn’t be a Nintendo console launch without a Mario game available to help sell it. The NES had Super Mario Bros (availability as an actual 1985 test launch title up for debate), Gameboy had Super Mario Land and the SNES had its own juggernaut, Super Mario World. Super Mario World wasn’t just a launch title, but it was the pack-in title that would help sell millions of SNES consoles for several years. Super Mario World had a lot of hype to live up to upon release. The first 3 Mario titles on the NES were undisputable masterpieces so anything short of the same would make the SNES seem unnecessary to many NES fans. Sonic had just been introduced to the world and the Genesis all of the sudden became a serious competitor. Super Mario World needed to remind consumers who indeed was still the platforming King.
My SNES skepticism was only a defense mechanism but I couldn’t deny how good Super Mario World looked on the pages of Nintendo Power. I was greatly impressed with the colors, the look of the levels (96 of them in total) and the inclusion of a new character, Yoshi. Sure, the plot is a retread of practically every Mario game before it (SMB2 notwithstanding). Mario and/or Luigi are attempting to save Princess Toadstool again from Bowser and his ugly children. But really, who cares? As long as the game is innovative and fun, the plot will always be secondary for a Mario game.
Super Mario World takes place in Dinosaur Land, a vacation spot for the brothers with food based names for its geography (e.g. Donut Plains, Vanilla Dome, Chocolate Island). I remember being intrigued by these level names but ultimately, the names were just names and Mario wasn’t bouncing around Candyland-like environments like my imagination believed it would be. The gameplay most closely resembles Super Mario Bros 3 with the combination of the overworld’s somewhat non-linear map and then the 2D playfields. Within the various levels, there may be secret exits which take you to secret levels which can be used them to open up even more secrets. This gameplay device really opens Super Mario World up to repeat plays in order to try and unlock all the available levels. I played through the game just once back in the early 90s but playing it again for the first time in over 20 years, I quickly remembered how fun Super Mario World is. This is arguably the best Mario game ever made and easily one of the best 2D platformers of all time.
The other Mario platformer I own for the SNES is Super Mario All-Stars. This is a compilation cartridge containing 16-bit remakes of the NES era Mario titles. Super Mario Bros 1-3 are all on this cart and they look & sound better than ever. It’s nice playing these 3 games with improved graphics but the games aren’t any more fun as a result. Bonus is the addition of save states which makes Super Mario Bros 3 much more beatable without spending 2 straight hours plugging away at it. However, the real treat here is Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels. This is the original Super Mario Bros 2 released only in Japan that was shelved in North America as being too similar to the original Super Mario Bros. Of course, we got a remake of Doki Doki Panic as our Super Mario Bros 2 and that was a great game in its own right and an awesomely different take on the Mario platformer experience. I think we got the better game for our SMB2 as Lost Levels plays exactly like the first SMB to a fault and I would have felt like Nintendo was phoning it in if this was the game we got in 1987 or 1988. Sure, there an appeal in playing what was supposed to be our Super Mario Bros 2 but honestly, Lost Levels to me is just a Mario footnote and not nearly as fun as the other 3 games on this cart. Regardless, Super Mario All-Stars is an awesome game to have in your SNES collection.
Currently in my collection:
Super Mario All-Stars: game, manual A
Super Mario World: game, manual A+