GameSpite Quarterly 2, #9: Super Mario World

9. Super Mario World
And now, a post about Mario that won’t degenerate into unsubstantiated dogmatic arguments. Kat’s take on Mario World is an interesting counterpoint to my own experience: She dreaded the game’s tiered, secret-laden level design, whereas I found it to be the saving grace in a game that, at the time, I didn’t think was particularly interesting. (We’ve both gotten smarter since then.)

22 thoughts on “GameSpite Quarterly 2, #9: Super Mario World

  1. I harshed Super Mario World’s aesthetics in my last comment, but along with the newfound depth of the level design, there’s no denying they represented a phenomenal leap over previous games in 1991. This triumphant commercial says it best:

    “And suddenly, the World’s a more exciting place to be.”

  2. It’s from an officially licensed Super Mario World manga. Awesome, huh?

    Kishi, I was kind of surprised by your bagging on SMW’s look. When the game launched, its visuals were unparalleled. There were lots of unexpected little details, like the prominence of diagonals and the fake depth-of-field in backgrounds via faux antialiasing. I love Mario World’s look, to be honest.

  3. I’ve personally felt that SMW was a step too far in the direction of exploration, which detracted a bit from the pure, tight platforming challenges of its predecessors barring SMB2USA of course, which was totally different. Not to mention that it lacked the overall challenge and variety of Mario 3.

  4. For the most part, I can’t fault the game artistically. But then I see something like the water in the screenshot in the last blog post, which is dithered (every other pixel in a row being transparent) instead of truly semitransparent. That’s a Genesis workaround. And I was always puzzled by the big splash image of Mario and Luigi in the ending, which has such a limited palette that their shoes are red and green. The color restriction is also stressed in the Koopa Kids, whose prismatic mohawks and the like are mostly just rendered white in-game. It’s like Nintendo themselves didn’t yet realize they were playing with super power.

  5. And lets be real– the feather was never an adequate replacement for the leaf. yes, you could glide forever through the levels, but it lacked a certain style.

  6. Well, it was a launch game, so you can’t expect it to use the SNES’ graphical power to it’s fullest. It’s sort of like the original Super Mario Bros. for NES- it was still early on and they were still figuring out how to push the capabilities of the system. (And who knows- maybe Super Mario World originally started development as an NES game).

  7. Yeah, I realize it must have been the first game ever developed on the SNES; still, though, you had games like Contra III as early as 1992.

    Cape Vs. Leaf: The tanuki tail and ears remain a striking visual to this day (add them to any character in existence and see if it’s not an improvement), but pounding a button to flutter about is inelegant at best. In execution, the cape is all about style. Its fine mechanics and fluid animation are among the things that really do set the game apart from the 8-bit lot.

  8. SMW was a product of 1990 in Japan that took a year to migrate alongside the SNES. A little easy to forget.

  9. The cape was kind of overpowered, in that it allowed you to glide downward slowly while in basic mid-air descent and make landings with ease, and its whip attack move was capable of knocking out almost anything.

  10. As much as I’ve played this game, the “(c) 1990,1991 Nintendo” notice on the title screen means I can never forget.

  11. Nicola: The reason for the palette restrictions and whatnot was to save valuable ROM space, not for any real artistic reason.

    As for the dithered water, that’s because it’s on the same layer as the status bar. I could have been transparent (a la Super Metroid), but I think the SMW team wasn’t very concerned about pushing the hardware.

    > Well, it was a launch game, so you can’t expect it to use the SNES’ graphical power to it’s fullest.

    Ignoring some jerky animations, Super Castlevania IV could easily be passed off as an SNES game from ’95.

  12. Man, when people use modern game critique clichés like “overpowered” or “game engine” when talking about classic games, I die a little inside.

  13. To this day, I think this is the only game I’ve ever noodled out every secret and little bit on my own, without so much as a word from a friend or nuthin’. Of course part of that is because I simply had more time for obsessive compulsive behavior back then, but I’ve never quite felt that intuitive grasp of…well, whatever the correct phrasing would be, I’m at a bit of a loss. The argument, of course, could be that I’m confusing intuitiveness with some sort of base design simplicity, but it didn’t feel that way then, and it doesn’t now.

    I mean, really, how the hell did you figure out how you were supposed to crouch to get that first warp whistle in SMB3?

  14. “Man, when people use modern game critique clichés like “overpowered” or “game engine” when talking about classic games, I die a little inside.”

    It’s funny you mention this. I was pretty sure I didnt get all worked up about this sort of agonizing minutia when I rented a Super Famicom from an import store to play through World ( and ignore Gradius 3) in early 1991

  15. Listen here – I suck at Super Mario World.

    I mean, I suck at all 2D Mario games – haven’t beaten any of the, but I am the absolute worst at World. When I watch other people play that game I see them pull secrets out of thin air that I never would’ve found without a FAQ.

  16. Is anyone else just seeing the same image twice in the article? In both cases for me, it’s a shot of (I think) Bowser’s Castle in a room with some lava…

  17. J, you are being to kind to Nicola’s delayed down’s syndrome. Let’s do this right: Nicola, fuck you.

  18. Definitely my favorite in the 2-d Mario series (so far at least! Have to pick up New Super Mario Bros Wii (worst title for a nintendo game ever). I’ve got super high hopes for this one.

    I think the main reason why people felt let down by this title was that Miyamato refused to live up to the expectations of the fans. Mario 3 could be classified as the bigger, better Super Mario Bros. It upped everything! More items, more enemies, more bosses, more challenge, more blah blah and it goes on. It really was Mario Bros to the power of ten.

    Nintendo could’ve gone on and played the same game with Mario World, but I’m guessing that they had realized what so many other developers never catch on to, and that’s the fact that more shit doesn’t always equate to ‘better game’. I think it’s why Nintendo games never really feel bloated like some other franchises.

    So they give us World, the apple to Mario 3’s orange. Such a different game! I’d say that Mario World was the proto-Mario 64. The first Mario game that felt more like a playground with secrets and treasures than a simple challenge from A to B.

    Mario 3 and Mario World aren’t a simple evolution, ancestor and decendent. They’re much more like a pair of siblings, each reflecting different aspects of their parents (Super Mario Bros).

    In case you’re wondering, yes I think World’s the better game. Leaf’s got nothing on the cape!

  19. Other mac guy: You figured out where the warp whistle was by going to see the Wizard. I’m pretty sure he got the word straight from Jesus.

    I recall the cape feeling strange and frustrating at first, because I expected it to be similar to the tail. Later when I went back to play SMB3, the tail felt rather limited.

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