Seething Cauldron of Pop Culture Talk

Irascible Analysis of Popular Culture

SNES vs. Genesis: Super Mario World

Super Mario World

Through much of the mid-80’s, Nintendo had a stranglehold on the videogame market. Atari was dead in the water and Sega’s Master System was little more than a blip on their radar. Everything was going great, but then Sega released it’s Genesis and a partnership between NEC and Hudson Soft produced the TurboGrafx-16, ushering in the 16-bit console generation and making Nintendo’s NES look practically archaic. It was time for Nintendo to step up and in November 1990, they finally did. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System [known as the Super Famicom in Japan] was finally released and coming with it was the latest entry in Nintendo’s ultra-popular Mario Bros. series. Known as Super Mario World, the game featured improved graphics, a ridable lizard named Yoshi, and a host of new powerups. It was directed by Takashi Tezuka and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto, both known for their extensive work on the series both in the past and up to the present. Upon its release, it proved to be just as successful, if not more so, than previous installments in the series.

Much like its predecessor’s, Super Mario World pits Mario against his nemesis Bowser who has once again kidnapped Princess Toadstool. As the story is familiar, so is the gameplay. You must traverse from one end of a level to another, jumping on enemies heads or avoiding them entirely, all the while collecting various powerups and leaping over bottomless chasms. The game does introduce some new elements of course, such as Yoshi, a giant, intelligent lizard who Mario can ride on. Yoshi’s special ability is that he can consume most enemies and even spit a few back out as projectiles. SMW also features an improved overworld that is more complex and smoothly flowing than the overworld in Super Mario Bros. 3, which also includes secret levels to find and some branching paths.

While Mario is by no means as fast as Sonic, he can still move very quickly. This isn’t the focus of the game however, it’s much more focused on precision jumping. Many of the levels are feature a lot of vertical elements, many of which are very narrow so precise jumping and momentum are very important, and there are also a great number of bottomless pits that will need to be navigated across to reach the end. To aid this end, the game feature checkpoints that will save Mario’s progress through the level and a save feature that comes up after Mario has defeated a boss or accomplish some other significant goal. There are also several ways in which extra lives can be obtained, many of which are fairly easy to accomplish. Overall, it makes the game much more about figuring your way through each level and focusing on trial-and-error rather than on perfect runs. That doesn’t mean that the game is easy though, some levels are still quite difficult even with the aid of extra lives and save points.

The music, done by Nintendo veteran Koji Kondo is cheerful and upbeat most of the time, although there are some toons that are more haunting and slow [such as the underground theme and the ghost house theme]. The soundtrack is well-done and highly memorable. The graphics, while colorful and vibrant, are much less detailed than many other platformers on the SNES and even some on the Genesis. It was one of the launch titles, however, so that likely played a part in this. Neverthless, the graphics are by no means bad and it runs very smoothly almost all of the time.

As with Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario World is a true classic in every sense of the word. It is a game that still remains as fun and as challenging as when it was first released. Here is one of the greatest games of all time, no question.

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April 28, 2010 - Posted by | Console Wars, Games | , , , , , , , , , ,

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