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.
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.