Thursday, 25 August 2016

Look back: Super Mario World

Yesterday was the SNES' American 25th birthday. Lots of the web celebrated the glorious day but to us in the GK-UK office because... well the US SNES was an ugly, blocky, purple monster with disgusting Parma-Violets sweets (that I also hate) for pad buttons.

Whilst we wait till next April for the EU 25th for our full celebration I've decided to give a quick look back/review at my personal SNES highlight Super Mario World, which along side Street Fighter II  was one of the most played game on me and my brother's shared SNES.

Super Mario World is the first game I have a clear memory of completing and I remember 4 year old me sinking so many hours in to it searching for hidden routes, the alternate Yoshi, and competing in home made challenges against my brother (such challenges I am certain will soon become drinking games).

SMW is an all round fantastic SNES game as the graphics, gameplay and music are all top tier. The sprite work is nicely detailed whilst maintaining the bright colours that instantly invoke memories of Saturday morning cartoons. The work that went into the art clearly paid off as the title still looks great today (for an 16bit 4:3 game in an 1080p HD 16:9 era). The music and sounds are all highly effective any body who played the game in their youth will react to hearing the Haunted House theme with a cold sweat. In fact take a listen (the below is an 60 part playlist of the entire OST, so enjoy) All the music was composed by Nintendo's own musical genius Koji Kondo, using only a electric keyboard. One thing that stuck out to me was the ways they manipulated the music to the level/events with cave levels featuring the theme slowed and echoing, where as in underwater worlds the music is more waltz like creating a wave like feel, and any time you hop on an Yoshi Bongo's accompany the main track.

The games difficulty starts nice and easy before adding in more and more levels of complexity, the difficulty curve is nicely balanced and creates a rewarding sense of progression. Super Mario World added in several new abilities for the man of 'stache included the "feather cape" which whilst initially seems to be a simply reskin of the Raccoon tail and Tanooki suit but gave greater control of Mario/Luigi's flight allowing players to gain more air by swooping down and pulling back up (a skill that would go on to serve games in other titles such as the Arkham Games) plus you know, capes are cool. The other addition that ended up sticking around was everyone's dinosaur pal Yoshi. 

Yoshi gave players a larger jump, an extra hit of damage, the ability to snatch enemies at range, and an heartless ejection system: that would save Mario from a pitfall drop whilst sending his loyal dino to his doom. Yoshi also possessed unique abilities depending on the colour of the Koopa shell he was holding in his mouth. Red shells gave him fire breath, yellow shells gave Yoshi ground pounds and blue (purple) shells gave Yoshi wings, Rainbow shells gave him all the powers, and finally green shells did... well nothing you spat them back out. these abilities could also be overridden by riding one of the alternative colour Yoshi hidden in the special world. These guys would ignore the shells colour and instead granted abilities based on their own.

Super Mario World is available on the SNES, GBA, Wii, Wii U VC and New 3DS VC

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