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Super Mario World

August 3, 2011

   I admit, I might be biased in my selection of this game as one of my favorites: as a young’n, I was initially given the choice between a Batman car playset and the brand-new Super Nintendo. Not knowing what an SNES was–and my video game experience solely consisting of TMNT on my cousin’s old NES—I insisted upon the car set. My father didn’t like my answer and pretty much bought me the game system anyway. As a computer programmer always in the thick of cutting edge technology, his opinion of this new-fangled device was quite positive. This would indubitably change once he realized that he had birthed a monster: namely, me. This fateful decision to override my childish whim for a tiny Batmobile raceway would spawn a sickening obsession with videogames for over a decade. And, of course, this game was packaged with the system.

Generally, Mario games are widely accepted as benchmarks in videogame history. With SMW, the advent of platforming was upon us, and the Genesis was left in the dust due to the awesome 16-bit power of Nintendo’s new workhorse. There’s little I can say that hasn’t been said about Mario World, but I do feel I can elaborate on a few key points that made it timeless and legendary for me.

Probably the most memorable thing about the game–the very quality that lengthened the SMW’s lifespan–was the sheer mind-boggling amount of secret levels, exits, and alternate paths one could discover. Even after I somehow finished the game with my still developing platformer skills in their infancy, there was an incredible wealth of alternative routes towards the endgame and beyond. I still remember visiting my cousin and booting up his copy of the game, and seeing the Star Road for the very first time, thinking “How did he get here!?” From that moment, I knew I had to somehow discover every single nuance the game had squirrelled away beneath its pixelated exterior. Even years after I thought I had unearthed every possible passage, I was still hearing about tricks and hidden treasures I never even dreamed were real. I scarcely could believe in the damn “Top Secret” area  after a decade of not knowing about it.

Of course, it helps that the level design, tight gameplay mechanics, and the introduction of the uber-cool sidekick Yoshi play integral parts in the journey to uncover Super Mario World’s many secrets. In terms of difficulty versus your own intuition, there’s never an excuse to make against losing. If you’ve played it–and let’s be frank, you probably have, if you’ve ever played a videogame in your life–you’d understand what I mean by the entirety of the fairness therein. Sure, the game was revolutionary and all platform games to come were to be judged against this marvel. And even with that as the hilt of its majesty, it also had the incredible quality as being a pack-in game, thus providing it with the reputation as the game many gamers started honing their skills with. To this day, I can’t think of any other launch title besides perhaps Mario 64 that had this kind of impact. It is, in my opinion, the golden standard that eclipses even Mario Bros. 3.

…Plus, did you know most of the Koopa Kids were named after punk rock icons? Lemmy, Iggy, Wendy-O? How many games can you name with a baddie named after the lead singer of The Plasmatics!?

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