|Developer:||Nintendo|||||Release Date:||1990 (JP)|||||Systems:||SNES|
Today on Super Adventures I'm taking a brief look at Super Mario World (AKA. Super Mario Bros. 4: Super Mario World in Japan). After this the numbering gets a bit crazy though, as you've got Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, which presumably counts as Super Mario Bros. 5, and then it jumps right up to Super Mario 64! No 'Bros.' for that game though, as Mario decided to go solo that time.
Every Nintendo console but the Wii has had a Mario (or Luigi) game as a launch title, and this is the game that was relied upon to kick off the era of the Super Famicom in November 1990. This and Mode 7 racing game F-Zero, but don't expect to see that on the site any time soon as I am astoundingly terrible at it.
Amazingly for a series with such highly regarded soundtracks, in Japan this was the first of the Super Mario games to have music on the title screen (though the Western version of Super Mario Bros. 2 does have a tune.) Even more amazingly... I don't really like it all that much. It's twee and grating and sounds like it belongs more in a nursery rhyme than a Mario game. Here have a youtube link, listen for yourself.
youtube link to the world map music.
The game actually has some introduction text this time, explaining that we're in the strange land of Dinosaur Land looking for Princess Toadstool, as she's gotten herself kidnapped by Bowser again. This is something like the fourth time she's been captured in the series so far, counting The Lost Levels, and Bowser really needs to find himself a new hobby because this is just getting ridiculous now.
Well I'm not rescuing her! I'm on vacation, Luigi can do it for once. The game's giving a choice between two different paths here, but I'm on Yoshi's Island, standing in front of Yoshi's House, and I'm happy to stay right where I am for now. Yoshi and Mario have been friends since he was a baby, so I'm sure the guy won't mind if I drop by, maybe chill out on the couch with some beers and watch some Dinosaur Land TV.
Though there is a speaker bolted to the tree above my head, and I'm sure I remember being able to jump-punch these to get a pre-recorded message.
Fine, FINE! I'll go drop him into lava again, before he captures Luigi as well in his desperate and pathetic attempts to get my attention. Just once I want him to try to capture Donkey Kong instead, see how well that works out for him.
Well to be honest I already know that left leads to a useful switch, so let's go right and see what happens if I don't flick it.
STAGE - YOSHI'S ISLAND 2.
The jump from 8-bit to 16-bit hasn't really changed the gameplay much, it still plays a lot like Super Mario Bros. 3, but the graphics have been given a serious boost from the SNES's more powerful graphics hardware, with more colours and sprites on screen at once. The sound chip's noticeably more advanced as well, with enough channels to avoid part of the music disappearing for a second every time it makes a noise, and the game's finally using it to play something catchy: youtube link. The game even has a proper background now, though there's no multi-layer parallax scrolling going on back there.
|Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)|
Super Mario Bros. 3 has so much flickering going on down the right hand edge of the screen that it feels like the poor NES is really straining to put all these graphics on screen. This leaves Super Mario World looking more polished by comparison... also a lot greener so far.
There's definitely a lot more to read this time around, with actual tutorial boxes along the way. Thankfully they're all avoidable if you're not in the mood to be interrupted.
I also grabbed a Yoshi coin, which are like regular coins except rubbish because they don't spin. Though if I get five on the same level I get a 1UP, as opposed to regular coins which have 1/20th of the value, but can be held onto between levels. You know I've travelled the Mushroom Kingdom, Subcon, Sarasaland and Dinosaur Land now, and I still haven't found one shop to spend this cash I'm stashing. Probably explains why everyone else just leaves the money floating where it is.
Yoshi was actually thought up as a sidekick for one of the NES sequels, but technical limitations forced him to wait until the Super Nintendo to make his debut. Here's another Yoshi fact I didn't realise until now: the music gets an extra layer of drums when you're riding him. Can't believe it's taken me this long to notice.
Oh, I should mention that I super-sized Mario by crossing the mid-level checkpoint, which are making their glorious return in this after skipping Super Mario Bros. 3 entirely. Super Mushrooms are still available for a quick growth spurt of course, which is a bit weird because we're not in the Mushroom Kingdom this time, but whatever.
I can't stick around jumping on him over and over though, I've got a fleeing Yoshi to recover!
Also I totally forgot how the level exit works in this game! The trick is to cross the ribbon when its at its highest, to get the maximum number of stars. When you collect enough stars you get... uh, sorry I've forgotten that too. To be fair it's been years since I last played this game; I can't be expected to remember every trivial detail about every insignificant SNES platformer.
STAGE - YOSHI'S ISLAND 3.
See, I didn't abandon my dinosaur to save myself, and I'm sure having Fire Mario's fat ass follow him down and crush his battered bones at the bottom was a much better outcome for him. I got far enough to reach the mid-level checkpoint though, so I won't have to replay it all (not that the stage is all that long).
Hang on, there's lots of dotted block outlines here. Damn, if I'd gone gone left on the world map earlier and turned that switch on, these would've all been actual solid blocks and I would've been perfectly safe!
STAGE - YOSHI'S ISLAND 1.
Hang on, is that a little red wing I see sticking out of his back? Crap, they're just dragons aren't they? Regular boring bipedal dragons in boots!
Still, at least it gives me a chance to talk about how the power ups work in this. Unlike in Super Mario Bros. 3, getting hit in a fully powered up form in this will always turn me back to regular tiny Mario. But I can store a spare power up in that box at the top of the screen for when I need it. It actually falls right out of the interface into the game world, which is the first time I can remember seeing that happen in game since the extra life heads in Superfrog.
Also the game takes advantage of the SNES controller's extra buttons to give Mario a brand new spin attack, useful for destroying blocks beneath him. Spin attacks with Fire Mario are powered up to throw out fireballs as well, and... I'm going to have to destroy the other block to get down this pipe aren't I?
SOON, AT THE YELLOW SWITCH PALACE.
Time for me to head back down to that stage I dropped Yoshi down a pit on earlier and see if my yellow block safety net has appeared.
BACK AT YOSHI'S ISLAND 3.
I'm just glad Luigi wasn't around to see that. He only really makes an appearance in two player, and even then the two brothers alternate between levels instead of co-opping a stage simultaneously. I guess they'd had a bit of a falling out at this point.
Super Mario Bros. 2 sprite a bit more and is noticeably taller and skinnier than his brother.
Then there's Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2, which is what the game's called on the Game Boy Advance. This doesn't have a two player mode, but Luigi went and invited himself along anyway, so there's an option to choose your character before each stage. This Luigi has a different sprite, brighter colours, floatier jumps and a voice.
ONE STAGE LATER.
Then just one year later he was able to punch a huge boulder aside while standing inside a volcano to get to Wesker and... wait, I'm thinking of Resident Evil 5 there aren't I? Sorry, I'm always getting Mario and Chris Redfield mixed up.
Seems that the bosses in this are Bowser's kids from Super Mario Bros. 3 again, except now they're immune to being jumped on! Well this one was anyway. Still not immune to being dropped in lava though! Shame I didn't bring a fire flower with me, I could've ended this much faster.
With the fortress down I've finished Yoshi's Island and now I'm free to move on to the next world: Donut Land. Huh, there's a place called Donut Land... inside Dinosaur Land?
STAGE - DONUT PLAINS 1.
Haven't found any donuts yet though.
LATER, INSIDE A PIPE.
LATER, INSIDE A DIFFERENT PIPE.
I still miss Raccoon Mario though. Mario looks daft here in his cape without bothering to change into a full superhero outfit, like an 8 year old who just watched a Superman movie for the first time and is running around with a gold blanket tucked into his neck. Then again with that hat and at this res, Superhero Mario would probably end up looking like a flabby M. Bison with a moustache, so perhaps it's better this way.
A FEW STAGES LATER.
This place is almost certainly full of Boo ghosts, so I need to remember that they only move when I'm not looking at them (cause they're shy).
Thankfully the vines aren't even slightly awkward to climb up, with very little chance of slipping off. I wouldn't have even thought twice about this before playing Super Mario Bros. 2 a fortnight ago, now I've learned to be grateful for what I've got here.
I'm getting close to the Donut fortress now and I'll probably turn the game off there, but I've got a couple more stages to go through first.
A COUPLE MORE STAGES LATER.
In the earlier games something like this would be a big deal, but I had 22 1UPs already without playing particularly well or finding all the secrets, and I can go to an easy stage and grind for them if I'm ever running low.
INSIDE THE DONUT CASTLE.
Zool? Shame I couldn't bring Yoshi with me to take some of the hurt, but he refuses to come inside castles.
This is a much more vertical level than you'd tend to find in Super Mario Bros. 3, which had proper 8 directional scrolling but mostly used it to make levels a bit taller. You can see here that Mario World handles scrolling in an interesting way that you don't find in a lot of games. The screen only scrolls upwards with my character after I've landed on something higher than me, and even that much is rare on most levels, which stick to just horizontal scrolling until they absolutely have to move the camera vertically. Play something like Aladdin or a Sonic game on the other hand and the camera will follow you up with almost every jump.
A FEW JUMPS LATER.
Fortunately I don't have to beat him before I can save and turn it off, as that ghost house I beat earlier also ends with an option to save and takes zero effort to run through. So I always have the option to turn the game off for a bit and come back when I'm less frustrated. The Super Mario Advance 2 version on the other hand lets players save whenever they feel like, on the world map, during levels, whenever; as it's on the Game Boy Advance, and people like to be able to turn them off in a hurry. You can't continue from the point you saved inside a level, but you do get to keep all the stuff you collected (it even lets you keep your lives!)
The poor Super Nintendo... it continued to receive new games for almost a decade and is still regarded as being one of the greatest consoles ever released, and yet it arguably got its very best platformer on day one and was never able to do better. Personally I think I prefer Donkey Kong Country 2 and Super Metroid's a definite contender, but man Nintendo absolutely nailed this game.
Hang on I've just thought of a problem with it: the soundtrack is a step down from Super Mario Bros. 3. Kind of a subjective one that though, and forgiveable considering that SMB3's music is better than everything.
Like the other games it's pretty much a straightforward obstacle course for the most part, keeping the vertical scrolling to a minimum to let you focus on overcoming the problems on screen. There are a certain amount of objects to collect each stage, but that's optional and the reward is so trivial that they're just there as a challenge for those who want it: a reason to replay levels. That's the big difference between this and the earlier games really: they made you replay levels by limiting your lives and forcing you to get good or learn the secrets, this encourages you to replay levels by giving you things to collect and secret levels to unlock. More carrot, less stick.
One valid complaint is that it's too easy, or at least far easier than the earlier games (though the levels are nowhere near as much of a pushover as the ones in Super Mario Land). Personally I'm glad the jump arcs are more forgiving now and I love being able to return to earlier stages to collect extra lives and power-ups, but for anyone with a bit of patience this is a game you're eventually going to beat. The earlier Marios are a legitimate challenge and it's very possible an average player will never see the end of them, but this one is something you can chip away at over time. In fact I doubt even the secret extra-difficult special stages are as tough as late game SMB3.
Ask me if I give a shit though! This is a Super Mario Bros. made for me, with the same great platforming taste but less frustration.
Next time: One last Mario game for you, before I move on to something different.