A Perfect Game - Super Mario World

It seems only fitting that the colossal SNES hit Super Mario World be the first example I give for yesterday's discussion. In my opinion, this is an example of the type of game I was talking about: a "perfect" game.
The Mario series had already made its mark in video game history by all but creating the platforming genre, and supplying players with a few titles that excelled at such. Super Mario Bros. 13 showcased colorful, varied worlds and enemies while utilizing solid platforming mechanics that would be built upon for decades to come. However, when Super Mario World was released with the new gaming console, the SNES, it blew everything prior away.

Like the previous entries to the Mario series, and many since, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Toadstool, so Mario (and Luigi) sets off to save her. This time, they traverse the new landscape of Dinosaur Land, all while encountering new enemies, obstacles, and abilities to help along the way, as well as a brand new ally and soon to be loveable fan favorite, Yoshi.

While the core mechanics remain the same from previous entries, as they should, Super Mario World introduces plenty of new things to impress fans of the NES titles and more than enough advancements in tech and gameplay (at the time) to give players an even better experience. Running and jumping is still as spot on and responsive as Super Mario Bros. 3, as is eliminating most enemies by jumping on top of them. However, flying is improved upon by giving the player more control in the air, and Yoshi acts as your trusty stead when found in certain levels, giving you the ability to jump onto enemies and obstacles that would otherwise result in injury or death, and a few other fun things depending on the color of your Yoshi and/or color of the koopa shell the dinosaur ingests. Riding Yoshi also slightly alters the stage music for a bit of extra fun when spending time with your new dinosaur pal.

The returning abilities, as well as the new ones allow for a more varied trek across the levels, which are even more intricate than previous titles that already encouraged and rewarded exploration. Many stages have hidden exits that unlock other paths to special areas, hidden levels, and even the legendary Star Road. Taking advantage of the new and powerful (again, at the time) SNES tech, World’s levels are more colorful, vibrant, and personal than any other game before, bringing even more life to a series that already supplied players with unique worlds to platform through.

Like Super Mario Bros. 3, World tasks players with completing several levels in order to get to the castle at the end of each world. The Koopalings are back with one residing at the end of each castle. However, unlike 3 where the koopa kids are just different looking versions of the same enemy that attacks and are dealt with in much the same way, each one is unique in how they must be approached and dispatched, whether they require a couple of jumps on the head, or dumped in a pit of lava. Like the levels, the boss battles are more unique and bring more personality to the game.

Super Mario World is largely considered Nintendo’s greatest triumph, and rightfully so. To date, it has sold over 20 million copies worldwide making it one of the bestselling video games of all time, and helping popularize the SNES by being packaged with the system itself. Though Nintendo has tried to recapture the magic that is Super Mario World with excellent titles like the New Super Mario Bros. series and Super Mario 3D World, none have been able to hit the mark. It is a true testament to just how important and enjoyable Mario’s first foray into Dinosaur Land really is and always will be.

But why hasn't Nintendo been able to recapture the magic of Super Mario World? All titles going forward added much to the series. Super Mario 64, for example, brought the series into full 3D. Perhaps it is in the ultimate simplicity of it that makes it such a flawless gem of a video game. It doesn't need 3D or 2.5D graphics, even more powerups, and more colorful and complicated boss battles (not that those things aren't great when used properly). Super Mario World does what it does, and it does it brilliantly.


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