It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda series. For me, LoZ defines me as a gamer. That being said, I am (as a Nintendo fan) no stranger to the importance of a certain Italian plumber and his adventures.
Super Mario World was a launch title for the Super Nintendo (which was released 25 years ago today in the US) and it still holds up as a fine example of a well-executed platform game. The game world is huge, you can go back and redo levels you’ve already completed (and in some cases it benefits you to do so), and the levels are crafted with terrific attention to detail. It’s clear Nintendo wanted to get this game right before releasing it – and they nailed it.
What ensures SMW takes its place as one of the all-time great Mario games is its replay value. If you know what you’re doing, you can reach the final boss in virtually no time (Star Road can see to that), but likewise, you can battle through different worlds and uncover different exits to levels that in turn open up new, secret levels to complete. You can even find secret worlds within secret worlds – so in many respects, completing the game is less about beating Bowser and rather, about finding all the secrets and completing every exit from every level.
New gameplay options are introduced too – the dinosaur Yoshi becomes Mario’s companion, and he will eat enemies for you. Mario can once again fly, and in fact the cape is in my view the most useful of all his power-ups. Stomping on koopas will force the turtle out of its shell, which you can then grab and use as a weapon, whilst new blue and yellow koopas bring new and unique challenges.
SMW is a beautiful game to look at too. Yes, the SNES doesn’t boast advanced graphics compared to today’s consoles, but as with A Link to the Past, it does a great job with what it has.
All in all, I give this a very well-earned 9/10.