Sunday, 23 February 2014

My 9th Favourite Video Game of All Time

Super Mario World (SNES – 1990)

My 9th favourite video game of all time is Super Mario World for the SNES. First released in 1990, it didn’t make it to Europe until 1992. It was one of the first games released for the SNES, and was often packed in together with new consoles.

It was the fourth game in the Super Mario Brothers series, and, in my opinion, the best. At its heart, it is a basic platform game. There is a story in the game, but there’s not much to it – Bowser’s kidnapped the princess again, and so Mario has to go off and save her, with a little help from a dinosaur called Yoshi.

But there’s a bit more to the game than that. For starters, unlike most platform games, it’s not linear – you don’t have to complete the levels in a set order. There’s a world map you can walk around as you unlock levels. Many zones in the game have more than one way through them.

The game was advertised as having 96 levels, but in reality it has less than that, as some levels have two different exits (with the second exit being harder to reach), and these were counted as two levels. And so the main challenge of the game wasn’t just to defeat Bowser and save the princess, but to complete all 96 levels/exits. To do this you had to complete the Star Road (where each level has two exits, with the second exit being very difficult to reach), and then the Special Zone beyond that, containing the 8 hardest levels in the game. Whilst a lot of levels in the game are fun to play, there are also plenty of challenging ones, and game gets the balance between them right.

The graphics may be simple compared to modern standards, but I like the cartoon feel to it (particularly the little cut scenes as you complete each zone). The music is also memorable, if only for the reason that music for most levels were just variations on the same melody. Here’s Smooth McGroove’s acapella version of it:

Super Mario World has stood the test of time. It may be over 23 years old, but it’s just as playable now as it was back in the 90’s. Many people who were kids in the 90’s still remember this game fondly.

It was a great success for Nintendo, and helped them to gain the upper hand against Sega in the console wars. And there were many more great games for the SNES to come...

Join me again next week where I’ll be revealing my 8th favourite video game of all time, a game where the world has been invaded by a mysterious alien force, and it’s up to us to save it...

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