Super Mario World (SNES) – Part 1

I can’t believe it’s been a year already since I started the site. I’ve put a lot more work into it than I thought I ever would, and I’m actually quite happy with how everything is evolving. I know I’m not the greatest writer, but I hope it comes across at least as entertaining to read. Beyond the site itself, I’m happy to finally be able to dedicate time to games I missed or just never finished as a child. With that in mind, I thought I should go big for the site’s one year anniversary and play a true classic, Super Mario World for the SNES.

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The game itself really needs no introduction. It is the game that practically defined the entire Super Nintendo Generation, as well as being the template that most future Mario games have been based on. It’s amazing to me that I’ve gone this long in my life without playing this game to completion. However, if you’ve been following closely, you’ll already know it’s because I never had a SNES growing up. My parents bought me the Genesis instead. Even without owning the game, I wasn’t completely unaware of how ground breaking a title it really was. On rare occasion I managed to play it at a friend’s house while we hung out together, which left a lasting impression on me to this day. But you can never complete the whole game that way, only get enough of a taste to know you want more. Those are exactly the games I started this site to play, the ones that got away.  So to commemorate the site’s one year anniversary, I hope to do the game justice as I play and review Super Mario World for the SNES! Let’s-a Go!!

Gameplay

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Welcome to Dinosaur Island, home of the Yoshis and setting for our grand adventure in Super Mario World. It might not technically be the mushroom kingdom, but that doesn’t seem to stop Princess Peach from being kidnapped by Bowser. Not only that, but Bowser managed to kidnap the entire Yoshi population as well. It looks like a lot of people are counting on Mario to once again save the day.

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Before even starting a level, you just have to take in the world map. While technically just a hub for the rest of the levels, there is still a lot of detail and fun thrown into the map itself. I have always especially loved how the landscape breaths and changes as you clear levels. Mountains will change in size, bridges will be built, and even whole new branching paths form if you manage to find secret exits to stages.

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Speaking of secrets and branching paths, following the left path from the start of the game will bring you up to the Yellow Switch Palace, which contains one of several colored switches hidden throughout Dinosaur Island. What does it do exactly? Well, scattered throughout the levels are multi colored outlines of blocks. Activating the corresponding switch will fill those blocks in, providing helpful platforms, or even access to more hidden areas. So do your best to find all of them.

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Finally getting into the gameplay itself and you’ll see it is a huge improvement over previous Mario titles. As would be expected of Mario’s arrival on the Super Nintendo, the graphics have been vastly improved, elevating Mario to his now iconic look. That’s not all that has improved, Mario managed to learn a few new tricks along the way. In addition to his usual running and jumping, he also learned a spinning jump which allows him to finally break bricks below himself as well as above. You’ll also notice that he now has the ability to hold onto an additional power-up item for use at a later time, adding a bit of convenience and strategy to collecting power-ups.

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The enemies have evolved quite a bit after the conversion as well. The Koopas for example now walk upright instead of on all fours like in previous games, a trait that will stay with them for the rest of the series. Bullet Bill is also more than eager to greet you in the first stages and show off how much he has grown between games, now filling up half the screen on his own and adopting the new name of Banzai Bill.

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Death Count: 1

There are also some newcomers to the series such as the purple dinosaurs name Rex. These guys take 2 hits each to kill, and for the life of me I can’t manage to play the game without them killing me at least once. I know they’re there and I know how to kill them, but still they kill me at least once. They’re just like that first goomba in the original Mario for me.

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Dinosaur Island is also home to a rather large family of Monty Moles. These furry little moles will burrow up out of the ground all around Mario and try to overpower him with their sheer numbers. Dispite the infestation, it would seem the whole Chargin’ Chucks football team is also on the island for some off season training, and they see Mario are the perfect training partner. These guys are really tough to kill thanks to all their padding, and it doesn’t help that, as their name suggests, they will regularly charge straight at you. Curiously though, they have a tendency to throw baseballs at you, despite very clearly being football players.

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Then of course, there is my favorite addition to the whole series, Yoshi. This adorable green dinosaur is the tank of Mario’s arsenal, offering up a deadly offensive attack as well as a substantial strategic defense. For an attack, Yoshi is capable of grabbing most enemies with his long tongue and swallowing them whole, clearing a safe passage for your journey. Should any enemies actually manage to attack Yoshi, he is thankfully indestructible. The damage will still dismount Mario, and with no rider Yoshi will run blindly forward, often into bottomless pits. However, Mario himself takes no damage from the attack, and you’re fully capable of remounting Yoshi if you get to him before he runs away. All of these combined make Yoshi an indispensable companion for your adventure.

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Unfortunately, Yoshi is not allowed to assist you inside the castles, so you’ll have to leave him at the door. It’s a shame, but Yoshi wouldn’t be much help inside the castles anyway. Not with all the new traps Bowser has thought up. It would seem the Koopas have gone through some intense training between games, because they’ll now climb around on chain link fences as they try to stop Mario. Mario will have to use their own defenses against them as he too climbs across the fences over the lava.

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That’s not all that’s in store for Mario. If you thought the Thwomps were bad, you just have to wait for the giant wooden columns coming from the ceiling this time around. You wouldn’t want to be flattened under one of those when they finally come down!

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Survive the challenges of the castle, and it’s time to face off against the first Koopaling, Iggy Koopa. Unlike previous titles, where a few attacks were enough to kill the boss, this time around you have to actually knock Iggy into the lava pits to kill him. With the platform rocking back and forth, that’s easier said than done. He’s also not going to just stand there and take the abuse either. No, Iggy will regularly be throwing giant fire balls at our hero. Don’t give up Mario, so many people depend on you!

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Knock Iggy into the Lava and you’ve won, as well as managed to rescue a yellow Yoshi. He’s still trapped in an egg, but I’m sure we can fix that. But first, we need to destroy this castle of evil. Set some dynamite, press the plunger, and just like that Mario has yet another new occupation in demolition. With that, we’re done here on Yoshi’s Island and we’re off to Donut Land!

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It is here in the first stages of Donut Land that you are finally introduced to perhaps Super Mario World’s most iconic power-up, the Cape Feather which transforms Mario into Cape Mario. With this power up, Mario is capable of jumping high up into the air like a super hero after getting a good running start. Not just that, but he can use the cape to glide through the air with ease. In fact, with practice, it’s possible to stay in the air for entire stages without ever touching the ground again.

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Donut Land also happens to contain my favorite secret area of the game. There is a secret exit to the Ghost House in the top left area of Donut Land. To access it, you need to start the level as Cape Mario, pick up some speed, and super jump to a secret area directly above your starting position. This will bring you to the secret exit and unlock the Top Secret Area.

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What’s so special about the Top Secret Area? Only everything! This area is a simple single screen with five ?-Blocks in it. Two of them have fire flowers, the other two have cape feathers, and there is a Yoshi egg in the center. This lets you prep yourself however you want for any of the upcoming levels. Just take a quick trip back and get the power-ups you need. But more importantly, it offers you infinite lives thanks to the Yoshi egg. Any time you find a Yoshi egg while already riding a Yoshi, the egg will produce a 1-Up mushroom instead. With this area, you can just keep hatching 1-Ups for as long as you want without any enemy threat. It takes a little time to fill up your lives, but it’s worth it. I might be on a pretty good streak so far, but I know I’ll need as many lives as I can get for the levels ahead.

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Of course, getting to 99 lives might seems unnecessary with how overpowered the Cape Feather really is. The stage Donut Plains 3 for example is supposed to be a platforming challenge with its lack of stable ground to stand on. But thanks to the cape, you can literally fly right over the entire level. After the first good running start, I honestly didn’t even see most of the level. I didn’t even see the goal line I was flying so high. It really does feel like cheating, but it’s just so easy to do.

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Thankfully, the Castles don’t allow such blatant cheating. This time around, it’s all about timing as you avoid being flattened into a Mario pancake. While I’m not sure how much the little baby Thwomps would actually hurt in real life, their grown counterparts are just waiting around the corner. If you can make it past all the Ball ‘n’ Chains that is.

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Death Count: 3

The Thwomps aren’t the only thing you’ll have to worry about in this Castle though. You’ll also have to avoid whole sections of the walls shifting in an attempt to flatten you. As much as you’d like to simply avoid them, these shifting walls also provide your only footing as you try to climb to the top of the Castle. Of course, you also can’t forget the ever present Dry Bones wandering around.

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Death Count: 4

If you can manage to make it through the castle, you’ll now have to face off against Morton Koopa Jr. Morton puts up a rather interesting fight. You’ll have to jump on his head several times to defeat him, but he makes that hard to do when he insists on standing on the ceiling. His strategy is actually the same as your own, he wants to jump on your head. So watch out for falling Koopas and attack before he can run away. While you might not be able to attack him on the ceiling, his attack pattern is very easy to predict, simply run under him to make him drop, which makes him a rather easy target once he’s back on the ground.

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With another Castle cleared, we’ve managed to rescue another Yoshi, but still no sign of Princess Peach. We’ll have to press on forward into the Vanilla Dome in search of her. But before that, it’s once again time to destroy the castle. We wouldn’t want the Koopalings to use it to plan a counter attack. Unfortunately Mario used up all his dynamite back on the first Castle. He’ll just have to stomp this one into dust himself.

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Death Count: 8

Now deep underground, Mario can no longer abuse the power of the Cape Feather. The vibrant green open landscapes of the previous levels have been temporarily replaced with confining, maze like caves. You would think that would make this area better suited for the Fire Flower, but you would be wrong. The Fire Flower may be powerful against most enemies, but it proves useless against the numerous Buzzy Beetles and their Red Spike variant.

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Death Count: 13

The confined spaces also make Chargin’ Chuck more deadly than ever. You’ll have to remain ever vigilant if you don’t want them to trample right over you. It’s not all bad though. The Vanilla Dome also features some amazing crystal blue lakes full of adorable fish. Just remember that these fish don’t like it when you try to pet them. We learned that the hard way.

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Death Count: 15

With me controlling Mario, it’s really no surprise to see so many ghosts filling the only house in the area. I’m just not very good at keeping Mario alive. At least all the Boos seem to be having fun together as they play follow the leader. Or maybe it’s ring around the rosie. The Big Boos however seem less than happy at Mario’s arrival, I have no idea why. I also have no idea what the heck these green blobs are supposed to be. Whatever they are, they don’t like me either.

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Death Count: 17

In fact, it feels like no one want to be friends with Mario as even the boiling lava gains consciousness with the sole purpose of murdering our hero plumber. Though I have a feeling it is somehow my fault and I just don’t know it. I mean, just look at Mario’s raft. It’s clearly made from the skulls of the fallen. Whether they be fallen enemies or one of the many Mario clones to already die on this journey is unclear. But either case would give them ample reason to want revenge.

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Death Count: 25

With so much death already haunting Mario, I’m somewhat frightened to even enter the next castle. Those fears prove to be well founded as the death count quickly rises with the introduction of the Magikoopa. Armed with powerful magic as well as the ability to teleport around the castle, they prove almost too much for Mario.

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Death Count: 38

Even when Mario does manages to rush past these new foes, the legions of undead Dry Bones still block the path. Combined with the moving stone slabs, I quickly lose my cool and make the same stupid mistakes over and over again, for which Mario ends up suffering. It’s sad really, all those Mario clones gone in an instant.

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Death Count: 42

Pressing forward over the bodies of the fallen, we finally manage to make it to Lemmy Koopa’s Lair. Having gained wisdom from the previous Koopalings, Lemmy goes for a much more defensive approach to defeating Mario. He’ll hide in a row of warp pipes, only occasionally emerging to attack. As an added precaution, Lemmy has also created two decoys to pop up with him to distract Mario. But such tactics won’t work forever, and before long Lemmy is launched clear through the pipes into the lava below.

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With Lemmy’s defenses broken, it’s time to destroy his castle. I hate it so much, and apparently so does Mario as he demolishes it with his giant mallet. Our quest is indeed getting much harder. And now I know that hidden somewhere in the previous areas are two of the other switches. Not that it does me much good. I’m pressing forward to save Princess Peach and there’s no time to be sidetracked!

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Outside the dome, we find ourselves in one of the shorter areas of the island here on Cheese Bridge. With only two areas to explore before the Castle, this should be a breeze. But I know better than to start thinking that way. The description says bridge, but there’s really no bridge to speak of. Instead you’ll be gliding through the air on the scrolling platforms, all the while avoiding the log cutting Buzz Saws so recklessly placed on the same tracks.

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Thankfully, we found a nice pair of magic wings to help Yoshi fly way up into the sky. But flight alone isn’t enough to keep Mario out of danger. For in the Mario universe, floating block technology extends high up into the reaches of space. And where there are floating blocks, there are creatures trying to claim them as their own. In this case a rather large infestation of black Fuzzies. You’ll have your work set out for you just trying to avoid all of them as you navigate the high reaches of space atop your winged Yoshi!

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Death Count: 45

I’d like to say the wings guided us to safety on the other side of the bridge, but that would be a lie. While there is once again some solid ground to stand on, that ground just so happens to be erupting into flames thanks to a new enemy, the Sumo Brothers. A variant to the classic Hammer Brothers, this new enemy will stomp the ground with such force that lighting is created which then ignites the ground below them.

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By some miracle we manage to make it to Ludwig von Koopa’s castle. After the marathon of deaths experience back at Lemmy’s castle, I’m less than excited to be charging into another one so soon. Thankfully, it’s not quite as hard as the last castle, in my opinion anyway. The castle starts in a narrow passage with a gauntlet of Ball ‘n’ Chains to run past. Then you’ll have to be quick as you make your way over the lava pits. Unless you WANT the spiked ceiling to crush you.

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Death Count: 47

Thankfully, there’s a handy toggle switch about half way through that will send it right back up where it came from. Of course, this leaves you as climbing partners with a room full of Koopas as you make your way up the chain link fences. Dodge them or knock them off, either way you have to reach the top if you want to face off against Ludwig!

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Death Count: 48

With Lemmy’s ultimate defense having been defeated, Ludwig goes for a full assault offensive approach as he shoots fireball after fireball at Mario. The tactic works at first, making it very difficult to even get near him. However, since he’s otherwise motionless while attacking, he has set himself up as a sitting duck. Well, turtle as the case may be. This motionless, repetitive attack pattern ends up being his undoing as Mario stomps him like the other Koopalings before him.

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Ludwig von Koopa will torment us no more, and so it’s time to destroy his castle as well. Unfortunately there seems to have been a miscalculation, or something flammable in the basement that was overlooked. Instead of blowing up and crumbling to the ground, Ludwig’s castle instead shoots into the air like a rocket, eventually crashing into the hill off in the distance. Quite to Mario’s surprise I might add. In either case, the castle is destroyed, and we’re off to the Forest of Illusion, that doesn’t sound good for us!

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This forest is a literal maze just waiting to force Mario to lose his way. Simply clearing the stages won’t be enough here, you’ll have to find secret exits if you want to make any real progress. Otherwise you’ll simply be wandering around in circles forever.

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Death Count: 53

While the Forest of Illusion may be a death trap to all who enter it. It is also the happy home to the lovable new addition to the Mario series, the Wiggler enemies. Resembling real world caterpillars, the Wigglers are actually quite peaceful creatures. That all changes however if you jump on them, knocking off the flower that grows on their forehead. Without this flower they will become red with rage and viciously attack. Furthermore, they’re nearly indestructible, being immune to nearly all forms of attack other than tossed items or being eaten by Yoshi. Perhaps they’re an enemy better left alone.

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But enough with the nature watch, we need to find some secrets here in the forest, and find them we shall. Starting with this not so hidden ?-Block with a P-Balloon hidden inside. Thanks to the power of this odd power-up, Mario himself will swell up like a balloon, allowing him to float through the air with ease. With this power, we can drift along until we happen upon the first lock and key I’ve managed to use so far, and the first secret exit discovered here in the forest.

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Death Count: 59

Though if I knew where that secret led, maybe I wouldn’t have been so eager to find it, as now we’ve stumbled upon the Ghost House hidden away in the forest. And what a densely populated Ghost House it is. With how poor of a player I am, I can’t help but feel responsible for filling this house with Boos out for vengeance. Not to mention the literal walls of Eeries, reminding me of all the Yoshi’s I’ve lost or sacrificed during this journey.

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Death Count: 61

If it’s any consolation, it’s very likely that Mario will be sleeping with the fishes very soon, and perhaps quite literally. Mario does have an amazingly large lung capacity. He could easily lay down right next to those Rip Van Fish and sleep right next to them. Of course, they don’t like to be disturbed, and Mario isn’t exactly great at stealth. Should Mario wake them from their slumber, they will understandably chase him down and try to kill him. That’s of course assuming the Urchin’s don’t kill him first along the way.

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Death Count: 65

Naturally, Mario and I become hopelessly lost within the woods. There has to be a secret exit somewhere, and I have a feeling it’s in the Forest of Illusion 3 stage at the bottom right side of the map. There are quite a few spots where such an exit might be hidden, but I’m convinced it’s somewhere in this mess of ?-Blocks scattered among the trees. Hitting all the different blocks however is easier said than done with all these Galoombas and Bob-ombs swarming around them.

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Unfortunately, all those Mario deaths were in vain, because there was no secret hidden in those blocks. But I was at least partially right, there is a secret exit in this level, just not right there. Instead, it’s hidden in one of the warp pipes right before the goal line. Inside is a key and keyhole which will finally open up a path out of this forest and straight to the front gate of Roy Koopa’s castle.

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Death Count: 76

As we enter yet another castle, the death toll once again skyrockets. To be clear, Roy’s Castle is not a difficult castle on a technical level, but it has a large emphasis on patience, a quality I simply do not possess. As such, the Snake Blocks providing Mario’s only solid footing may as well have just killed me themselves. Whether I be plunging off the side into the fiery lava, or impaling myself on the spikes, my lack of patience with the slow moving platform caused the death of many a Mario.

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Death Count: 79

Even when I can hold it together long enough to make it past the Snake Blocks, my impatience still gets the better of me. For example, there’s my insistence of jumping on the Switch Block at the start of the bridge. Ignoring the switch would make things easier, because it would prevent one of the Bowser Statues from falling into my path. But I simply can’t resist the allure of the Switch Block.

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Death Count: 82

Things just get worse when I’m faced with the series of Stretch Blocks following the bridge. I want so much to rush, but that more often than not just causes me to fall to my death. If I don’t miss the landing entirely, then more than likely my timing is off and I wind up jumping straight into one of the Lava Bubbles or even the fireballs shot from the Bower statues.

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Eventually, I do actually make it to Roy Koopa’s lair, and it looks like he’s going to be taking a page out of Morton’s book and go with the whole “Climb up to the ceiling” plan of attack. He does put his own twist on the plan though by forcing the outer walls to close in on you as the fight goes on, reducing the amount of room available to dodge his attacks. Unfortunately for Roy, the lack of room doesn’t make his attack pattern any less predictable. Before long, Roy’s plan falls apart just as Morton’s did before him and we are one step closer to rescuing princess peach.

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Before we leave, we better destroy this castle just like all the others. After the fiasco that was the castle rocket last time, we’re going to have to be extra careful this time to makes sure everything goes according to plan. We’re looking for precision demolition here, Mario. Unfortunately, it looks like we either got a wire crossed somewhere, or that bomb was a dud. With a blatant disregard to job site safety, Mario rushes up to the bomb himself to investigate, and predictably it blows up in his face. When will you ever learn? But look at the bright side, we’re heading to the delicious Chocolate Island next.

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What more dangers wait ahead for Mario? How many more times can he possibly die? You’ll just have to keep reading in Part 2 to find out!

Total Deaths So Far – 82 Deaths

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