Super Mario World (SNES) – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Super Mario World Review! If you missed it, head back to Part 1 to start from the beginning! Otherwise let’s continue on our journey to save Princess Peach!

Total Deaths So Far – 82 Deaths

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Gameplay Continued

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Up until now, Dinosaur Island has been somewhat lacking in, well, dinosaurs. But that changes on Chocolate Island with the introduction of the Dino Rhino and Mini Rhinos. While they might look cute, the mini rhinos are actually the bigger threat of the two. Also known as Dino Torches, these little dinosaurs seem to be part dragon as they breathe fire towards our hero. Thankfully the larger Dino Rhinos seem to have lost this ability. I don’t even want to imagine the carnage that would be generated if they were still capable of it.

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Death Count: 83

At least if they did end up killing me, the afterlife seems to be fun. Just look how happy all those Boos are as they play and bounce around off the walls. Unfortunately, it looks like even the bricks are getting their own ghosts to seek vengeance. Now that I think about it, back in the first Super Mario Brother’s game on the NES, the manual did mention all the bricks actually being citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom transformed by Bowser’s magic. I’ve destroyed so many bricks not even thinking that they were once alive. I’m a monster.

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At this point, even the game itself seems to be torn between helping me and punishing me. One second it’s sending wave after wave of enemies at me in a clear attempt to overpower me through sheer numbers. The next second it’s sending waves of Super Mushrooms to help me on my journey. I know I need a lot of help since I’m not a very skilled player, but that just seems like overkill, even for me.

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Death Count: 85

Those Super Mushrooms of course were simply there to give me a false sense of security before the game tricks me again, and trick me it did. We’ve already learned that I have very little patience when it comes to moving platforms, so a level made up almost exclusively of rotating platforms is just torture at this point. The true trick however came after the level ended. Where normally a path to a new area would be opened up, this time only a useless circular path formed leading back to the same stage. If I’m not mistaken, there must be a hidden exit in this stage if I wish to continue.

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The deception of the stage is actually quite ingenious. I can think of few other situations so devilishly clever while also being painfully obvious. At the end of the stage, the goal is raised up onto a higher platform, which is in itself quite the oddity. The truth is that this is a false goal line. Only by using the Feather Cape to fly under the false goal can you reach the true end of the stage and continue on your journey.

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Death Count: 91

This of course brings us to the Chocolate Fortress. While it may not be the first Fortress in the game, far from it actually, it is the first one that I’ve actually encountered. The Fortresses are set up much like the Castle, but not quite as intimidating. There are still the various enemies, like the Dry Bones walking around, but they pose little threat. The real danger of this fortress comes from the various wooden spikes stabbing away at Mario. While the threat of actual impalement is unlikely, they do have a tendency to block your path and knock you into the pools of god only knows. It’s not lava, instead it looks like boiling tar or oil. Whatever it is, it means death to any Mario unfortunate enough to land in it.

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Death Count: 96

Pressing on past the tar pits and giant spikes, we find ourselves cornered by all the Thwomps who have taken up residence here in the fortress. They’ve even started little Thwomp families with their mini Thwomps jumping around by their feet. To make matters worse, they’ve set up traps around themselves so they’re even more dangerous. With spike pits all around, you can’t lure the Thwomps down from their attack positions. You’ll just have to be faster than they are if you want to get through.

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Just like with the Castle, there is a boss waiting for Mario at the end, except it’s not a Koopaling this time. Instead, we’re treated to a Ferris wheel of Reznors atop a disappearing bridge. These fire breathing triceratops have been cursed by Bowser to do his bidding, and unfortunately for them, that makes them just another body to crawl over in our quest to rescue Princess Peach. By bumping them off their platforms, we can send them plummeting into the bubbling lava pool below. You’ll have to work fast because as mentioned, the bridge won’t last forever. You might just have to ride the Ferris wheel with them for a while once the bridge is gone.

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Death Count: 98

With the Reznors defeated, the Fortress is clear, but we’re not done with the Chocolate Islands just yet. We still have to make it to the Castle to face off against the Koopaling before we can move on. And so we now venture deep underground into the mole tunnels of the Mega Monty Moles. With all its slopes, and tar pits, and those evil tiny sloped moving platforms, this is certainly one area that will slow me down. But I can’t give up, we’ve nearly completed our lap of the islands, and Princess Peach is surely nearby.

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Death Count: 101

Of course, I remain to be the most lethal enemy to Mario as I simply can’t control my impulses to do stupid things. Take this Switch Block for example. It is placed so conveniently out in the open, but there is no good that can come from pressing it where it is. For one, all those Spinies are going to be released from their prisons. But more importantly, the blocks underneath the switch will turn to coins, causing Mario to plunge to his death. I know these things, but still I can’t stop myself from pressing the button.

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Death Count: 108

Suppressing that urge to be stupid long enough and we finally make it to the Castle of Wendy O Koopa. As the only daughter, Wendy is well protected with a plethora of traps to stop any that might bring her harm. Whether it be the numerous tracks lined with rotating saws or the dozens of giant spiked pillars, only the bravest souls would ever dare venture into her Castle. With very little margin for error, this proved to be a very challenging yet exciting Castle.

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Death Count: 115

Venturing deeper into the castle and we encounter for the first time the Li’l Sparkies and Hothead enemies. Much like the Fuzzies, these little balls of electricity will simply circle their blocks preventing Mario from standing still on them. This makes them very predictable and easy to avoid. That however doesn’t mean they’re harmless. With me at the controls, even the slow moving ceiling gets the occasional kill in before I can make it through the Castle.

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It might take quite a few tries, but I do eventually learn from my mistakes and manage to face off against Wendy. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t seem to have learned from the mistakes of her siblings. Wendy is employing a modified version of Lemmy’s attack pattern, hiding in warp pipes and using decoys to distract Mario. She’s improved on the plan by adding a second Lava Bubble to the room. Unfortunately that was her only improvement. The pipes are now arranged both lower in the room and level to each other, giving Mario significantly more room to maneuver in. This oversight ultimately lead to her downfall as she too plunges into the bubbling lava below.

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With that, Wendy is defeated, and her castle must also be wiped from existence. A phrase Mario takes quite literally this time as he grabs a mop and literally wipes away the pixels that were once Wendy O Koopa’s Castle. We’re nearing the end of our journey now as we make our way into the Valley of Bowser, but first we must travel through the Sunken Ghost Ship to reveal the gateway.

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Death Count: 123

Now that I get a closer look at it, this sunken ship looks remarkably similar to the flying ships the Koopalings used back in Super Mario Bros 3. As it should, according to the manual that’s exactly what it is. The countless crew doomed to their watery graves have spent their ghostly eternity just waiting for a chance to get revenge on Mario, and now they have it. Hiding their presence, they suddenly appear in mass, taking Mario by surprise, and cursing him to join their watery fate.

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Though the ghosts claim many a Mario clone, one does finally make it through the traps to witness one of the most fun parts of the game so far. Handing you a Super Star as soon as you arrive through the warp pipe, you enter a free fall alongside numerous confused Koopas, an assortment of spiked balls, and countless rows of coins. With the Super Star power up, it becomes a free for all as you guide Mario around the stage with little threat of damage.

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Finally splashing down in the water below, we see yet another relic from Super Mario Bros 3, the Magic Ball, the only one in all of Dinosaur Land, and the key to open the Valley of Bowser. Touching the Magic Ball will reveal a large stone Bowser which acts as the entrance to the Valley of Bowser.

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It looks like we still have one more castle to clear before we can truly face Bowser, but just the sight of his towering castle in the distance fills me with determination. As the sky above the Castle is illuminated from lightning, we can even catch a glimpse of Bowser off in the distance, flying high in the air in his Koopa Clown Car. We must press on to rescue Princess Peach.

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Death Count: 134

This final stretch won’t be easy. Far from it actually. Once again deep underground, we find ourselves lost in the maze tunnels of the Mega Monty Moles. They are actually rather harmless though, going so far as to allow you to ride on their heads as they safely ferry you across the rows of Munchers. The real threats of these tunnels are the numerous Chargin’ Chucks taking advantage of the narrow passageways to trap you and mow you down.

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Death Count: 139

Though, sometimes the enemies are the least of the danger here underground. As the unstable ground ebbs and flows, you’ll have to time your progress to stay within the safe hollows on the ground. That is unless you WANT to be killed and buried in the same action here so close to your goal.

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Death Count: 141

Even if you manage to dig free of from these tunnels, the lack of air at this depth is clearly affecting Mario’s mind as he enters a dream realm of flying Koopas and giant radishes. There are even little floating platforms that can only float for a limited time before falling from the sky. Clearly the trauma of the journey is finally getting to him. WAKE UP MARIO! YOU HAVE TO RESCUE THE PRINCESS!!

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Death Count: 143

Mario wakes from his dream and presses on, apparently faster than Bowser’s forces had expected. I say this because the Chargin’ Chucks of this tunnel are acting very uncharacteristically as they dig up boulders, no doubt trying to set traps for Mario but failing to finish in time for his arrival. No matter, with the all the natural pools of lava around, even the falling boulders themselves will cause enough distraction to slow Mario down.

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Death Count: 148

Unfortunately for Bowser’s forces, there’s no stopping Mario now, not when we’re this close to his castle. With that determination in mind we enter Larry Koopas Castle with the sole objective of putting an end to the Koopalings who have hindered our progress thus far. But such reckless abandon shall prove fatal as we charge head first into the final, and most well guarded of all the Koopalings’ Castles thus far. Once again they put my patience to the test with the cunning use of Snake Blocks. Though much longer than the previous Snake Blocks, the gauntlet of Ball ‘n’ Chains you must pass through still makes it feel like not enough.

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As the blocks twist and turn their way through the expansive castle, Mario must duck and weave his way around every obstacle. But there is one last deception waiting for Mario at the end of this ride. Having wasted enough of your limited time already, rushing the door seems the only logical course of action, but such haste would be foolish. Instead you should ride the blocks all the way down the hole to find not only the check point, but also a super mushroom. Both of which will be greatly appreciated in the coming half of the castle.

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Death Count: 154

Larry Koopa may be the youngest of the Koopalings, but he is clearly the smartest, installing floor to ceiling walls of blocks to stop Mario in his tracks. Without the aid of the Power Cape, there is little Mario can do to advance past these obstacles. Unfortunately, the Magikoopas in his employ don’t share his brilliance. Casting their magic wildly at Mario, each missed attack making holes in an otherwise impassible wall. Only through this clever manipulation of Larry Koopa’s own forces can Mario advance in his quest.

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And so, Mario finally comes face to face with the last of the Koopalings, the young Larry Koopa. Bringing the battle around full circle, Larry is using his older brother Iggy’s attack pattern of fighting on an unstable platform in the lava pools. He has increased the defenses by adding three Lava Bubbles to the arena, but these increased defenses do little to protect him and Mario quickly launches him into the lava, ending the reign of the Koopalings.

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Powered now by pure adrenaline, his goal so close, Mario rips the castle from the ground with his bare hands, throwing it into the distance. With Bowser clear in his sights, it would seem nothing can stop him now. It has taken us long enough to get here. Now it’s time to storm his castle to rescue our love Princess Peach, and finally bring peace to these Islands.

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Death Count: 166

Matching the Castle’s size, there are now multiple paths for Mario to choose from as he makes his approach to Bowser’s inner lair. Numbered 1 through 4, each of these doors has a different challenge in store. Whether that challenge be the lava pits and wooden pillars of door 1 or the Li’l Sparkies and moving platforms of door 4, each area has its own pros and cons.

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I however prefer to use door 2 since it seems to be the easiest. It is a simple room with a long chain link fence stretching over a spike pit. The Koopas seem to be contained to the back side of the fence, and therefore pose no actual threat to you. Instead, the only immediate threat comes from the Lava Bubbles bouncing around the room. Seeing as they travel in straight lines until they bounce off a wall, they are easy to avoid and barely hinder progressing through the Castle.

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Death Count: 174

However, what kind of Castle would this be if we could make it through that quickly? Upon completion of any of the 4 doors, you are once again presented with another four doors to choose from, this time numbered 5 through 8. Once again, the choice is yours for how you want to proceed. Would you rather dodge to fireballs and statues behind door 6? Or perhaps you’d rather swim through your own watery grave behind door 7. Personally I find door 5 to be the easiest.

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Death Count: 182

Much like door 2, the area behind door 5 is a straight shot, no tricks room. There are no enemies to fight, no random elements to avoid, just an all or nothing mad dash to the goal. This room is nothing but a long corridor filled with spiked pillars and Thwomps. You have to time your run perfectly and make a mad dash to the other end of the room as they all come crashing down behind you. There’s no place to stop and rest, so it truly is all or nothing, and any hesitation will mean you won’t make it to the end.

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No matter which doors you take, you’ll always end up in a dark room only lit by a hanging disco ball. This area is the only area in the game where you can encounter Ninjis, the black ninja like enemies last seen in Super Mario Bros 2. It also gives you an early encounter with the Mechakoopas. These little robotic wind-up toy replicas of Bowser will play an important role in the final confrontation, so get acquainted with them now while you can. Other than that, it is a fairly simple final room to Bowser’s castle.

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Finally, after so much work, after so many deaths, we finally face off against Bowser, King of the Koopas, himself. Standing high atop the Castle, Bowser holds a distinct advantage as he flies around overhead in his Koopa Clown Car. Flying way too high to jump on him, and with no platforms to climb up, there isn’t much Mario can do to him at that height. In his arrogance however, Bowser personally provides Mario with the ammo he needs to fight back. That ammo of course being the Mechakoopas we encountered earlier. Once flattened, these wind-up toys can be thrown up into the air in hopes of smacking Bowser right in the head.

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Death Count: 186

A few knocks to the head aren’t going to be enough to take him out however. They simply add fuel towards enraging him. After first trying to ram you with his Clown Car, Bowser will then fly up high into the air, and proceed to rain fire down on Mario. With Bowser flying so high you can’t even see him, there’s little Mario can do other than simply trying to dodge the fireballs.

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Thankfully Princess Peach does manage to struggle free of her captor and provide what help she can. The Super Mushrooms the throws down from the Clown Car are much needed and much appreciated. However, the knowledge that she is physically inside the Clown Car poses its own problems. I hope we don’t accidentally hurt her while dealing with Bowser in this fight.

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Death Count: 188

Those fears may in fact be unfounded as the Clown Car clearly possesses the ability to defy physics and be much larger on the inside. How else could it possibly hold those giant steel balls he keeps dropping on Mario? A single one of them is nearly the size of the Clown Car itself, leaving little room for passengers, or even an engine for that matter. Surely Princess Peach is well protected in whatever alternate dimension is hidden away inside the mysterious Koopa Clown Car.

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As the battle fiercely wages on, Bowser only becomes more mad, and blinded by his own rage. Eventually he starts resorting to smashing the Clown Car down onto Mario, trying to slice him up with the propeller blades on the bottom. Such desperation simply proves who the stronger of the two fighters is. After a few more smacks to the head, Bowser finally loses control of his Clown Car, dropping Princess Peach onto the roof before spinning out of control into the horizon.

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With Princess Peach rescued, Mario’s adventure is finally over. Mario gets a kiss from the Princess. Fireworks are shot off in the distance by unknown revelers. And finally, Mario, Peach, Yoshi, and all the other friends can get back to enjoying their vacation, which if you’ll remember was the whole reason they came to Dinosaur Land in the first place.

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Gameplay – 9 / 10

Mario games have always been the gold standard for platformers. The controls are always very responsive and intuitive. The level designs are fun and have a good variety to maintain the excitement throughout the whole game. And the difficulty level maintains a steady challenge without ever feeling overly difficult. Really the only major flaw I can think of is in regard to the Feather Cape. It is just so overpowered that it’s broken. One good run and you can easily skip whole stages. That’s probably the reason it hasn’t been seen in any other Mario games after this one.

Graphics – 8.5 / 10

Just like with the gameplay, Mario games always hold a high standard in the graphics department. Thanks to the new power of the Super Nintendo, the sprites are bigger and more detailed than ever before. All except for the backgrounds, which for some reason mostly consist of random angular shapes with no real context to them. But those are just the background, I’ll accept it that they aren’t overly detailed. No, the real reason I didn’t give it a better score for graphics is because of Yoshi’s swallow animation. If you look closely, Mario is very clearly punching poor Yoshi in the back of the head to make him stick his tongue out. Such violence against Yoshi seems uncalled for and unnecessary and remains one of the only graphical decisions I can’t stand in the game.

Audio – 10 / 10

Music composer Koji Kondo has stated during interviews that he’s not happy with his songs until he can listen to them for hours on end without becoming sick of them. It’s exactly that kind of dedication and love of music that has made the Mario series soundtracks some of the most memorable and catchy songs in all of gaming. Whether it be the catchy main theme, the haunting tones of the ghost house, or the menacing castle music, there isn’t a single piece of music that doesn’t instantly draw you deeper into the game. I truly wish more games would give such care to their music and give it as much attention as they do the rest of the game.

Story – 6 / 10

The story to the game is very weak to the point of near nonexistence. At the beginning of the game there is a quick “Bowser kidnapped Princess Peach” introduction, as well as a note from Yoshi about needing to save the other Yoshis. But beyond that, the story is never really expanded upon. It’s not a big deal, the game is just as much fun without an elaborate story, and I’m just pointing out that it’s a weak story.

Total Playtime – 5h 03m

As it is, it’s a pretty sizeable game, but in reality I only just scratched the surface. I don’t have any exact numbers to quote, but I would guess I only saw about half of what the game has to offer. I found almost none of the secret exits and so never experience any of the secret levels. That’s not even mentioning the well known Star Road levels. Then there are still the Special Zone levels after that. So if you’re the completionist type, you could easily double my playtime. Though if you are the completionist type, you probably won’t die half as much as I do, cutting the time down significantly.

Total Deaths – 188 Deaths

Yes, I died a lot, but it’s not because it’s a hard game, it’s because I’m a terrible player. In all honesty, the difficulty level of the game was near perfect. The first time you play any level, you might get caught off guard by something just ahead. But everything is so patterned and fair that there isn’t a single death that I can honestly blame on the game itself. I’ve said it multiple times during the review already, but my impatience really was the biggest threat to Mario’s life.

Overall Score – 9 / 10

I love this game, I have always loved this game, and I will continue to love this game. The gameplay is fun, the music is memorable and the art is beautiful. While that could be said of any of the Mario games, Super Mario World raised the bar and introduced so many great mechanics to the series. The introduction of Yoshi, the second item slot, the improved running mechanic, and the list goes on. Really there isn’t much I can fault the game for at all. The story is a bit weak, but that could be said of nearly any game that isn’t an RPG. Then I’ve mentioned my distaste for Mario punching Yoshi to attack, but that’s a minor graphical opinion that has no real impact on the game itself. In short, there’s a reason Mario is an icon of gaming and internationally recognized by gamers and non gamers alike. That reason being that Mario games set the standard for their systems, with Super Mario World being no exception. If you’re never played Super Mario World, you are doing yourself a disservice as a gamer and I insist you at least give it a look if not complete the whole game.

Super Mario World (SNES) - 174Thank you for reading and let’s look forward to another exciting year here on!!


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Want to read it again from the beginning? Well head on back to Part 1 and start the adventure all over again!

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Bonus Pictures

As I bonus treat, I thought I’d add all the cast pictures from after the credits. ENJOY!

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