Super Mario WorldlikeTBC Developer Nintendo Publisher Nintendo Genre Platformer Platform OTHER Release 21/11/90 Retro Recall - Old games are magical to me. An odd sentiment to open with, I know. But whenever I think of an old game like Sonic 3 or Super Mario World, I get taken back to the age where the world was just what I could see, where I believed that whatever was in a Disney film could actually exist, maybe. It's that innocence which I believe I'll never be able to rekindle, let alone through playing new games disguised as old ones. (Looking at you, New Super Mario Bros. Wii)

Back around 1992-ish, video games weren't a big part of my life. I was pretty young and couldn't quite afford to shell out for big, expensive things like games consoles or PCs that could run any of the memorable titles at the time. I do have a Spectrum and Tape Deck from that time, but like hell I can remember playing on it. So my first real introduction to video games was through the SNES which came into my household. Great console, still have it hooked up to an old CRT TV right behind where I sit as I type this up.

Mario and Hover-jump-less Yoshi
I spent great chunks of my childhood on that console, Super Mario World being the biggest hour-cruncher. And after playing New Super Mario Bros. Wii at Christmas, I was somewhat disappointed. It felt to me that, despite all the fancy graphics and the new costumes, New Super Mario Bros. Wii was a huge step backwards. Hopefully by the end of this review, I'll have told you why. But just know this, this review will most likely be less about the game on it's merits and more on the game's nostalgia and heart-warming bond between cold-hearted-video-game-fan and his childhood pet video game.

So, Super Mario World. Successor of the highly successful Super Mario Bros. series on the NES. It was a flag-ship title for the SNES. It boasted pretty colours, a whole new sprawling map-system-come-overworld and a new in-level item hold/swap system. Many, myself included, see Super Mario World as being the definitive 2D Mario title. It was also the last 'true' 2D Mario title, as after the SNES came the Nintendo 64 and the third-dimension.

The game follows Mario and Luigi as they once again save the Mushroo--Dinosaur Land ('cause everything in the 90's was about Dinosaurs) from the evil Bowser who has once again captured the Princess. His snivelling kids, featured in Super Mario Bros. 3, are back as well and going by the fact you dunk most of them into lava, you can kind of see why they never returned until New Super Mario Bros. (spoilers: they were dead. But now they're not for some reason.)

Being a plumber in a world full of plants with razor-sharp teeth that live in pipes would make me homocidal too
One of the big changes to the Mario franchise was Yoshi. Yoshi was astronomically popular in his first iteration. Sure, he had no arms and if he got hit he'd run around like a headless chicken but he was adorable. He was so popular that he even got not one, but two games revolving around him... Or his ancestors or something. It's hard to tell, really. Is Yoshi an 'it' or is Yoshi a species of Dinosaur? Either way, these reptilian things were adorable, a dime a dozen and saved you from otherwise painful deaths. And herein lines point 1 (of why New Super Mario Bros. Wii feels hollow): In Mario World, Yoshi follows you around between stages. Every stage has been designed with Yoshi and his abilities in mind. Hell, leaving Yoshi behind leaves a stage's background music missing an audio track. Where as in NSMBW (New Super Mario Bros. Wii) you find Yoshi's in specific stages and once that stage is over, you say farewell to your scaly friend. Also, in Mario World, eating shells with Yoshi causes different effects, like Red shells make Yoshi breath fire and blue shells make Yoshi fly. In NSMBW... Well, Yoshi can hover for a bit. It's something, right?

One of the great things about Super Mario World, however, is that when you die... And you will. Countless times, unless you've played this game every week since you first laid hands on it, you will fall down holes needlessly, hit lava pits because you get cocky and think you can fly around underground levels and be clever. But never at one point do you believe it's the game's fault. Okay, there are a few problems with the Virtual Console/Wii version of the game not recognising button presses a few times, but if you're playing on a real SNES, those problems aren't there. Mario's movement is spot-on, it's accurate and weighted. You know when you jump where you will land. It's subtle physics (if you can call it that) aren't screaming at you saying "Look how much work we've put into this!" by doing a million complex and interesting things... All of which are detrimental to gameplay. No. It's simple platforming at it's best. Which is point 2: In Mario World, you know where your character is going and where you'll end up. In NSMBW... Can you trust Mario since he floats around like a leaf caught in a draft? No. You can't. For all his wall-jumping-get-you-out-of-tight-spots, you always land about a relative-foot away from where you expect Mario to end up. And that irks me in a big way.

Mario defies all logic as he stands on a box. All it would take to kill him is an enemy to jump under the box...
Super Mario World has a lot of detail put into it. A lot. There's countless stages to be found in the game. Most of the interesting stages are locked up waiting to be found. Secret Stages is what any true Mario World player lives for. Finding your first as a kid blows your mind, knowing little of the treasures which await you when you hit Star Road and Special world. That succinctly brings me to point 3: In Super Mario World, there's loads of levels, most of them off the beat and track, finding the secret exit to levels becomes an obsession. In NSMBW... You have your normal levels, a few Toad Houses and a few Cannons to find. I mean, this is a step-backwards made so obvious. In New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS, you have lettered levels (i.e. 1-A) which constituted optional levels which could be completed or not. They were also more difficult to complete, much like Mario World's 'Secret' stages.

An outright comparison to Super Mario World to New Super Mario Bros. Wii can also be found in level design and gimmick use. Mario World uses quite a lot of gimmicks which we consider common place in platform or action games now. Rotating platforms, moving scenery... These were pretty radical and new design concepts for platformers, brought about by the technological advances made with the SNES. And while it could have still been possible for the SNES to incorporate a lighting system where you can only see somewhat around you in a lightened circle, they didn't. I'd like to believe that they didn't because the idea was horrible, however it's actually more likely that they didn't have the time to implement the idea or they simply didn't have the idea at all. The use of the aforementioned gimmick in NSMBW frustrated many-a-gamer, especially when faced with water and falling obstacles which will hurt on-contact. So point 4: Mario World has much better level design. NSMBW has the occasional piece of scenery which rotates.

Nothing better than smashing a turtle in the face through a chainlink fence. Bit like my last time at the zoo.
Bosses are another prime candidate for comparison, point 5: in Super Mario World, you have a variety of different boss styles. And although some of them are the same boss with unique quirks and one is just a boss shooting fireballs at you, at least they're somewhat mixed up. In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you have a Super Mario Bros. 3 'plus' sort-of-thing going on. You get to the end of a Mario World-like castle level and then face a boring boss which involves jumping on it's head 3 times. That's quite like Mario World in that regard, however, more like Super Mario Bros. 3; you'll have the odd gimmick like ice or the boss ground-pounding to make you pause, but other than that, it's all flat surfaces and the simple task of jumping over their attacks. In Super Mario World, however, you have a boss where it's in a series of pipes and sends up two decoys along with it's head. Another boss walks up the wall to ground-pound you when it drops from the ceiling. Basic concepts are there, NSMBW does it lazily.

Other aspects like music and visuals are subjective to today's design aesthetics and fashion. Either way, they're passable in both Mario World and NSMBW. They aren't important aspects of the game either way, Mario World presented the best style it could for it's content and console capabilities. Personally I find a good platformer one which you could play with the sound off and still enjoy, avoiding having to go to bed for school in the morning. It must be said, it would have worked better when I was a child, what with the SNES not making a sound whenever it read from cartridge. However, NSMBW breaks that rule, having enemy movement momentarily affected by the music. This can screw up simple jumps, mix that together with some annoying stage gimmicks like wind and you have a recipe for disaster, making you more aware of the music and memorising when such sounds occur. It was cute in the DS iteration, not cool on the Wii version.

And there we have it. Give me a choice of Super Mario World or New Super Mario Bros. Wii to play, I'd pick Super Mario World every time. Not because I'm hung up on the past, but because it's by far a superior game. With a proper control system on a gamepad which has enough face buttons but forces you to use motion controls because every Nintendo game on the Wii has to have some form of motion control somewhere, no matter how unwelcome it is. I'd say they're about as difficult to one-another, I'd say that a no-special stage run Vs. full New Super Mario Bros. Wii run (minus Star World) are about equal in length. I'd say I enjoy both games, but I enjoy Mario World far more.