Welcome to the next post in my year-long series “Play or Pass” that takes on the proverbial “must before death” theme with video games. Every other week I will be covering one or two games from “32 Video Games You Have To Play Before You Die,” a list compiled by BuzzFeed based on a reader poll. I will not be critiquing the list itself, but rather I’ll be discussing each game or games in whatever manner feels fitting and will attempt to answer a couple simple questions: Have I played [insert game name here]? If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why? If no, do I want to play the game before I die? I’ll be going through the games in the order in which they appear on the BuzzFeed list. Good? Good. Let’s get on with the games!
Week seven: (9) Super Mario World
Like Super Mario Bros. before it, and Space Invaders before that, the SNES classic Super Mario World afforded many of today’s gamers with their first gaming experience. And today, Super Mario World remains nearly unmatched in terms of universal popularity and commercial success.
Um…okay…so that’s not exactly true anymore given the billion-dollar-garnering games of recent years, but still. Super Mario World was, and is pretty damn popular, and it’s a damn fine game besides. There aren’t many games that can claim to have been re-released multiple times over a lifetime. (Didn’t a version just come out for the 3DS?) And can you imagine the world of platforming games today if Super Mario World had never been? I’m not sure that I can, and what I am able to picture looks pretty bleak.
Putting aside the host of Donkey Kong games that are technically part of the “Mario universe,” if you will, and the original-original Mario Bros. games, think of the Mario games that came out between Super Mario Bros. in 1985, a game that undoubtedly altered the gaming landscape, and Super Mario World in 1990 (1991 in the U. S.). Besides a few spin-offs, there was Super Mario 2 and 3 for the NES and the Super Mario Land for the GameBoy, all of which came out in the late 1980s. Great games, all of them, and both Super Mario 2 and 3 easily hold their own today, with Super Mario 2 remaining a very special game with its early departure from what would become the Mario equation. (A risky move that no developer today would consider with a sophomore [again, technically] entry in a popular series.)
Super Mario World included the best of everything its predecessors had to offer – excellent gameplay, a relatively entertaining if simplified story, a likeable cast of characters, and one goal – to save the princess. No filler, no fluff, no sidequests, no busy work. And it built heartily upon this solid foundation in becoming the platforming adventure game for its time. The game’s levels were translated into different themed stages on a grand world map that made the game feel big and accessible. And the levels in any given stage once opened remained open so that players could revisit them to uncover missed secrets or simply have a grand time replaying their favorites. The platforming within each level remained challenging but not overly difficult. And the game oozed replayability, if only one sought to become better and faster at defeating each stage while gathering all the points and coins possible.
And then, of course, there was Yoshi. If you ask me, I’d pin most of the game’s success on that loveable, green dinosaur and his extraordinary appetite. Adding him to the mix propelled the game’s mechanics into a whole new world by giving players the chance to traverse some stages in different ways. Yoshi was a formidable fighter besides, being a powerful pounder of enemies, and his gliding capability saved Mario’s ass more than plenty from those bottomless holes. As well, don’t forget that swallowing a fire flower allowed Yoshi to “shoot” not one but THREE fireballs! Ah, Yoshi. He’s just the best.
I just bet you can guess my answers to the “Play or Pass” questionnaire, right?
Have I played Super Mario World?
Yes, more times that I can count.
If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why?
Yes. If you give a damn about platformers and have not played this game, then quit whatever you are doing (unless you’re being paid to do it, then wait till you’re done), and PLAY THIS GAME. If you don’t give a damn about platformers then you should really give a damn about platformers and PLAY THIS GAME.
If no, do I want to play the game before I die?