by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 15th January, 2020
Back in 1990, Nintendo needed a killer game for its newly released Super Nintendo console. The choice fell on Super Mario World.
Developers had shortened time to finish the game since it was chosen to be shipped alongside the console, which was one of the best launch console bundles ever.
Nintendo managed to finish Super Mario World in record time. Even though the game lacked a considerable number of features that were planned, it became a smashing hit and one of the main reasons why the SNES sold like hot cakes in its first year.
Later on, Super Mario World would become one of the most popular Nintendo games ever to be released. Its legacy won't endanger Super Mario Bros. titles from the NES era but the game would become synonymous with Mario during the better part of the 90s.
Due to its rushed development and huge popularity, Super Mario World features tons of interesting facts tied to it. Let's check out the most interesting ones.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System launched alongside Super Mario World. Talk about a killer launch title. The console was sold bundled with the game and people loved it. At the end of the SNES era, the game has sold more than 20 million units, which was more than impressive back then.
The only other game from the period that came close to Super Mario World was Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. It managed to sell in 15 million units.
Super Mario All-Stars collection for the Super Nintendo was the second best-selling SNES title. It sold 10.5 million units, half the number of Super Mario World. It's worth stating that all three games were bundled with their respective consoles so Super Mario World didn't have any unfair advantage.
Just for comparison, the best-selling game for the first PlayStation console was Gran Turismo 2, which sold 10.8 million units. Back then, it was Nintendo's and Sega's world.
In the original, SNES version of Super Mario World, Mario and his brother Luigi jump the same height, despite Luigi being noticeably taller. Also, back in Super Mario Bros. 2, Luigi was able to jump higher than his brother.
Luigi's jumping ability was boosted in the Game Boy Advance version of the game. There, he finally got recognized as the better jumper of the two. This meant that playing with Luigi was basically the Easy mode for the game since he was able to traverse tricky platforming sections of the game with ease.
The Game Boy Advance version of Super Mario World features many other differences to the SNES version of the game.
Boos and Big Boo are white in the GBA version, while the same enemies are light blue on the SNES. Bowser and the Koopalings have one finger more on their hands on the GBA.
Four instead of three, seen on the SNES version of the game. One small, but really cool difference on the GBA is that Yoshi eggs differ in their color, depending on the color of Yoshis inside them. On the Super Nintendo every egg has the same, brown spots on the surface.
During Bowser fights you can see the full HUD if you play the game on the GBA. On the SNES, you can only see the box with the reserve item. In the GBA game, you cannot replay castles until you defeat Bowser.
On the SNES you can freely replay any castle you visited even if you didn't defeat Bowser by pressing L+R while inside a castle. Mario and Luigi can climb vines faster if the player holds the run button. That doesn't work on the Super Nintendo.
The SNES game awarded fewer points for defeating Charging Chuck and Climbing Koopa than the GBA version of Super Mario World.
Since the SNES game features just the green Yoshi, he only can create an egg with a mushroom after eating ten red berries. Since the GBA version of the game introduced differently colored Yoshis, they all produce unique bonus eggs.
Blue Yoshi gives you an egg with a feather; Green Yoshi can create a mushroom egg; Yellow Yoshi awards players with a Starman egg; and Red Yoshi spits out an egg that contains a Fire Flower.
GBA increased the maximum number of lives from 99 to 999. And if you save the game on the GBA you'll have all your lives, powerups, and items after loading the save.
The Super Nintendo version always loads the save that features small Mario and five lives, which is a crying shame. Also, you can save the game anywhere you want on the GBA. On the SNES, you can only save the game after completing stages or finishing Ghost Houses and Fortresses.
Yoshi is known today as one of the coolest parts of Super Mario games. He even got a few standalone titles. He didn't debut in a Super Mario game until Miyamoto decided to introduce him in Super Mario World.
But the idea of a mountable sidekick for Mario was in Miyamoto's mind for quite some time. He wanted Mario to have a sidekick ever since he worked on the first game of the series, Super Mario Bros.
But the Famicom console simply didn't have the horsepower to turn the idea into reality. Developers had to wait until 1990 and the release of SNES to include Yoshi in Mario's adventures.
Back when he first imagined a mountable sidekick for Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto designed Yoshi as a Koopa. He had a shell on its back, like other members of the species and a back story that explained why he turned sides and decided to fight alongside Mario. But the design was later scrapped.
Later on, during the development of Super Mario World, Yoshi was to be a horse. It made sense for Mario to ride a horse, more sense than to ride a Koopa.
But the horse didn't fit inside the universe, which was filled with reptile animals. So, designers at Nintendo changed Yoshi's original Koopa design and turned him into a tiny dinosaur. And as for the mountable horse well, it was later introduced as Link's mount, Epona, in Ocarina of Time.
Yoshi's arms are the same color as his body in every game aside from Super Mario World. In this title Yoshi has orange arms; they look like he has sleeved gloves on his upper extremities. There's no official reason why he looks like that but there's a hint.
In the GBA version of the game, Yoshi's arms are of the same color as the rest of his body so it can be that developers didn't manage to finish Yoshi's design due to time constraints so they had to ship the game with Yoshi having orange arms.
Japan has a different view on dolphins compared to Western countries. The country has a history of hunting dolphins for food, and they still do that even though catching dolphins is forbidden by international laws. This is why dolphins in Super Mario World can be eaten by Yoshi.
Back in Japan, the scene would look relatively normal. While younger generations denounced the troublesome dolphin hunting tradition, back in 1990 looking at dolphins as the food wasn't so out of the way.
The US and EU versions of the game dropped the feature because for us, eating dolphins would look rather weird. And besides that, dolphins are used as platforms in the game making levels easier so it wouldn't be cool for Yoshi to eat them.
That's probably what developers at Nintendo thought and an additional reason why dolphins cannot be eaten in the Western versions of the game. An interesting fact is that, in the GBA version of the game, eating dolphins was present in the NA and EU versions.
T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas. It seems he's a dinosaur subspecies that likes eating Koopas. The full name was discovered inside the internal character guide for the game, that didn't release to the public.
Special Zones are bonus levels that are quite hard to find and beat. They were extremely sought for back in the day, when the Internet was still years away and when video game secrets traveled via mouth to mouth "technology." Back then, finding even one Special Zone was an achievement on its own.
But finding all eight Zones and beating every single one was the stuff of myth. Especially after you saw the changes that were introduced after mastering all eight secret levels. Enemies would change their appearance and the Overworld would change from spring to fall.
Super Mario World is a perfect title for speedrunners. The fastest way to beat the game includes some glitching but it can be done in just five minutes. The sequence is rather complex and includes repeating specific movements multiple times on the first level.
The movements have to be performed super precise and even the smallest mistake means starting over. If you are somehow successful the credits will roll and you will, technically, beat the game.
The proper speedy way to beat the game, one that doesn't include exploiting glitches, is a bit longer. It includes 12 stages and about 20 minutes of playtime. Starting in Donut Plains, you have to look for every secret exit until you arrive at Star Road. Once you arrive there, you need to finish four levels and voila, you'll reach Bowser.
This is another thing that became widely known with the rise of the Internet. Back in the day, this super-fast way of completing the game was considered as just another urban legend. Most of us played Super Mario World for weeks before we completed it for the first time.
Back in the NES days, we had to keep the console on until beating games, and that was comically funny at times. Parents would usually squash our dreams of finally beating Super Mario Bros. because they wanted to watch some TV. So, we had to wait for weekends or to get up early and miss school to play games from the beginning to the end.
The first Zelda game introduced a save feature, with the help of a RAM chip soldered to the game cartridge. Mario games didn't support this until Super Mario World. And then, in 1990, we could finally play the game, beat a few levels, and then save before our mom's favorite TV show was on. A small, but an incredibly helpful feature.
The game was a smash hit in the whole world but its success was on a whole different level in Japan. In fact, Super Mario World was so popular in the country of the rising sun that Nintendo produced an anime show in cooperation with Bandai. The show was called Mario to Yoshi no Bouken Land (Mario & Yoshi's Adventure Land), was sold on VHS tapes and was meant to be played on the Bandai Terebikko.
Terebikko was an interactive VHS system that implemented interactive content via its phone-like controller. At specific moments in the show, the phone controller would ring and kids had to answer questions by pressing one of the four buttons. Super Mario also got a TV show in the US. The Super Mario World TV Show wasn't a success and it was binned after just 13 episodes.
Both Super Mario World and the first Legend of Zelda game feature a magical forest where you can easily get lost (well, the forest was a common area in most Zelda games). The Forest of Illusion was one of the worlds in Super Mario World. It was tricky to finish since you would get lost if only finding regular level exits. You had to find secret exits in order to advance to the next world.
The Legend of Zelda's Lost Woods is an area where you can get lost in a jiffy and then get sent back to the start. That would repeat until you discover the secret path to the heart of the forest. These two locations are quite similar and in the Japanese versions of these games, they even share the same name - Mayoi no Mori which translates to Lost Forest.
You probably remember the famous Sunken Ghost Ship level in Super Mario World. It was part of the world seven in the game and was one of the best levels in the game, and one of the scariest. Well, the level is, in fact, a sunken Koopaling airship from Super Mario Bros. The ship was damaged and it fell into the sea, chilling there until Mario visits it in the SNES game.
Nintendo gave us a subtle hint on the origins of the ghost ship. The Sunken Ghost Ship is the only level in Super Mario World where you can find a Magic Ball. These balls where items that appeared at the end of Super Mario Bros. 3 levels, insinuating that we visited the ship in the previous game.
Either because of the limited development time or because of limited space on cartridges, many planned features had to be abandoned. The biggest was multiple difficulty options. Implementing the feature was extremely time-consuming so it had to be scrapped.
The Racoon Mario from Super Mario Bros. games were also to reappear but the idea was shut down because of multiple reasons. Firstly, there wasn't time to finish implementing the feature; next, the game already allowed Mario to fly while riding on Yoshi's back.
Finally, the game was planned to have a type of level that saw Mario flying in a cage. The cage would move thanks to the four birds that held it in the air and Mario had to cross obstacles and other dangers in auto-scrolling fashion while being constrained by the cage's walls.
Super Mario World intro sequence, that sees Mario and Yoshi jumping and flying as well as Yoshi eating apples and spitting eggs, takes place in a Special World.
The intro plays once you enter the game, in case you don't press the Start button. Well, the Special World in question is the fifth level called Groovy. So, in a way, players were able to discover a Secret World level before even starting the game.
The Japanese version of the game features mini-bosses named Bui Bui. Those were named Reznors in the North American version of the game. Now, no one in Nintendo made an official statement but many believe Reznors got their name after Trent Reznor, the famous NIN (Nine Inch Nails) frontman.
This was an old tradition by Nintendo. The company regularly named Koopalings (Bowser's children) appearing in Super Mario Bros. NES games after famous musicians.
Further, the two enemies in the form of huge bullets, are named Bullet Bills and Torpedo Teds. Many believe their name is an homage to the classic movie of the 80s, "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure." Yup, that's the one with Keanu Reeves starring in it.
If you left the controller while Mario was in any of the Special World levels, the game would start playing a familiar tune. The music will first stop and then a remixed version of the original Super Mario Bros. theme would start playing. Cute and really cool Easter Egg.
But that wasn't the only Easter Egg found in Special World levels. The symbol found at the top of each Special World was the SNES logo (or Super Famicom logo for Japan).
We, the gamers from Europe, didn't see anything strange with that since our SNES consoles sported the logo on them. On the other hand, people from North America wondered what those symbols meant for years. Until the Internet came and the mystery was unveiled. Or until someone traveled to Japan or Europe and found the symbol on SNES consoles in those regions.
Japanese mythology contains a strange creature called Kappa. It is usually depicted as a giant turtle-like creature with a pond on the top of its head. One section in the game, called "Kappa Mountain" is named after that creature. The interesting thing is that "Kappa Mountain" is mentioned by name only in the game's official instruction manual.
Both Mario and Luigi wear brown shoes throughout the game, from start to finish. Further, Super Mario World's cover image also shows Mario and Luigi in brown shoes. But at the end of the game, during the final cutscene, the brothers wear red and green shoes. No one knows why the change was made.
It could be because of time constraints but since the cover features brown shoes, that's unlikely the case. Maybe developers just forgot about brown shoes while working on the final scene.