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Retro Gaming

16bit Musings – Super Mario World 2 Yoshi’s Island

by on Feb.02, 2011, under Retro Gaming

Preface

If anyone would have ever told me that there is a bad Mario game released by Nintendo I would have probably called him crazy. I was utterly wrong  Рeven though I have a slight dislike for Mario64 at least that one was unique and enjoyable in its own way (first 3D Mario, innovative level design/challenges, etc.).

When I grew up I loved my Super Nintendo. In fact I still love SNES games even today as I’m nearing my thirties. But this “horrible abomination of mankind” (to quote the AVGN), this is it. I’ve found it. The unholy grail of video ehrm Mario gaming history. First things first: I’ve never laid my hands onto this game until writing these lines (which is 2011, the game was released back in 1995). I’m a sucker for Super Mario World. In fact I’ve completed it three times 100% after re-acquiring it in 2010. I love most things Mario (Mario Kart, Mario RPG/Paper Mario, New Super Mario Bros. on GB/NES/SNES/N64/GC/Wii/you name it).

What’s the difference between Super Mario World 1 and 2 you ask? Well, for starters in Super Mario World you played as Mario (or Luigi if a second player joined the action), whereas in part 2 you play as a bunch of Yoshis saving Baby Mario from the clutches of Bowser’s magician (I’m terribly sorry I forgot the name. I’m a Mario fan, but not a fanboy). Now what’s bad about this? I can’t condense this to one sentence, there are numerous factors that ruin the Mario experience in this title for me. And it’s not even the lack of the grown-up famous plumber.

The Bad

1. Loading times in levels.

What started as a good idea, i.e. the introduction of a foreground and background part in levels (where the background parts are obstructed by walls), becomes a major annoyance. Every time you switch between the regular level and one of the obstructed parts the game kind of pauses – to load I presume. In some levels this is a major PITA as the game constantly switches between foreground/background. It destroys the flow of jumping and running and rapes it afterwards.

2. The level design so far (world 4) is repetetive and uninventive. The background design, despite being nice and colorful, obstructs the view of the game. The thing that bugs me the most is that the game includes loads of backtracking and trial-and-error in my first run. I hate backtracking.

3. The secrets aren’t hinted. Sometimes you simply have to jump in a certain spot to get extra stars or whatsoever. There aren’t that many clues that show you where to go.

4. The most annoying fact is that whenever you touch an enemy, you don’t simply die. That would be most unfair, because the speed certainly got vamped up compared to Super Mario World. Instead Baby Mario gets trapped in a bubble and a timer counts down to zero (max. amount of stars is 30). So far so good. Catch Baby Mario either by touching the bubble with Yoshi or its tongue before the timer hits zero. BUT: I’ve died endless times because of Baby Mario floating in spaces I simply could not reach (and yes I know you can lower him by shooting an egg at his bubble which doesn’t help when the friggin baby is obstructed by something I can’t shoot through). Ah yeah and what’s the most annoying thing about little humans? Right, they make ugly noises. Baby Mario cries. And I hate it. It makes me want to throw my controller against the wall and turn the sound completely off.

5. Costumes. Come on what was the most awesome thing in Super Mario World (or Mario Bros. 3 if you take a step back to the NES)? Of course the many outfits of Mario and the abilities they granted the player. Level too hard? Doesn’t matter, simply fly over the whole level. Not a problem with the correct timing. Underwater world? Better get a fireflower. Etc. pp.

And hey, you could even store the items in the predecessors (1 in SMW, many in MB3). Specialties in SMW2 are restricted to certain areas. You touch a symbol floating in a bubble (what’s with all the bubbles – have the Devs been smoking too much Sheesha?). Yoshi turns into a different form for a limited amount of time. The only thing that works as expected is invulnerability by picking up a star, which happens not very often to say the least. That’s the only time you may control Mario by the way.

This feels like a serious degeneration to one of the most basic Mario concepts. Grab an item, you grow bigger, stronger, faster until you die. Not in this game, no sir. Instead you can swallow enemies and turn them into eggs, which you can then shoot at enemies/triggers/whatnot. A nice idea. But no thanks. I want the costumes back.

6. Time limit.

What happened to the omnipresent time limit in Jump’n’Runs of this epoch? It’s gone. I hate to work under pressure, but pressure can be good if you find yourself with a negative adrenaline level. Which happens way to often in this game with all the back tracking I’ve mentioned above.

7. Empty pipes.

They annoyed me in Mario Bros. 2. And they’re back. They even look exactly the same. I hate repetition as much as I hate to enter empty things. What a waste of time.

The Good

Nevertheless I found a few enjoyable things:

1. Controls are slick.

2. Inventive boss design. The frog’s belly was awesome :).

3. Huge Monsters during the levels, too.

Conclusion

Don’t get me wrong! This is still a high quality SNES title (it’s a Nintendo game after all) compared to the bullshit Jump’n’Runs available (Rocky & Bullwinkle anyone?). But it’s not the game I hoped to play. It’s not even a game I want to play. I’m not sure if I will ever finish it. To be honest, I think I’m wasting my time with this one.

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