Go on, now. I’ll wait. I have some coffee to drink.
Y’all caught up? Kk, moving on…
While I could pretty much comment on any of the titles thus far that have made the cut, the most recent entry into the Best Video Game Ever series sparked a rather emotional and geekfully gleeful wave of nostalgia. Super Mario World, living in the guilded age of the Super Nintendo, was for all intents and purposes, the go-to game for all things entertaining, but also frustrating, painful, and yet, so full of awesome that I still often speak its name in hushed reverent tones.
Now, one might wonder why it is I revere Super Mario World over the equal amazingness of Super Mario Bros. 3, and quite frankly, we’re splitting hairs here.
Reason the first: More game!
Ok, so SMB3 was on Nintendo’s flagship console, so it was limited by sheer technology. We can forgive that. It did a lot for what a traditional Nintendo cartridge would do. But, with new technology comes the opportunity to grow and expand outward, which is exactly what Nintendo did with its gimme game. /sigh Remember the days when such a remarkable game came FREE with purchase (something sorely missed in today’s age of “now that you spent your arm on the system, give us your big toe and we’ll ‘bundle’ in a game and change the package…no, really, we’re doing YOU a favor.”).
But for a free game it’s surprising how much Nintendo invested in developing it. It might have been the typical 2D scroller, but the freedom of choice in progression for each world that was started in SMB3 was taken to a whole new level. You could quite literally do EVERY single level, or jump around and still make it to the final confrontation with Bowser (and unlike previous franchise entries, you could go BACK and do the ones you skipped). Not to mention all the secret levels, minigames and hardmode levels that saw the untimely death of many a SNES gaming controller — hey, I had frustrations as an awkward pubescent teenage boy.
Reason the second: That little green friend…
The world created in the SNES Mario franchise entry was vast with a lot of easter eggs and one of the BEST character additions in a video game franchise, Yoshi! Seriously, my love of mount collecting in World of Warcraft pretty much stems from my early childhood gaming adventures with that enemy-gobbling, egg-farting, anime-ized version of a cute raptor whose black hole of a stomach should be considered a virtual achievement if not something to be envied. And dammit, Blizzard, I want my mounts in WoW to eat enemy NPCs! But with your green friend (or blue, or yellow, or red…) in tow, you traversed the world together always reminding Yoshi of his place as you bitchslapped him in the back of the head to gobble enemies, turning them into projectile vomit (or currency when digested) or converting enough weird berries into egg-shelled feces that when re-consumed equated to extra lives. Sad to say, but I think Yoshi was my first friend ever. And man was he a little bitch if he got hit — just running away all crazy like a drag queen after someone turns on the overhead florescent lights.
Reason the third: Deductive Reasoning Skills, yo!
If there was ever a time in your life where you could do something OVER AND OVER AND OVER, in today’s world, you’re probably wiping to a raid boss in WoW. But in the yesteryear of gaming, it was scrolling through the various levels of Mario World and working to figure out how you’re going to get past that GIANT ASS GHOST you can’t stomp on because he’s technically already dead and he takes up so much space you can’t slip by. Not to mention the trial-and-error hardness of the star levels. Ok, let me say, that while I have successfully completed the star levels, they can all DIE. IN. A. FIRE. I mean it! Ugh…the number of controllers I went through just to change the season of the entire world was enough to hear an ultimatum from my mother, “Mijo, beat those fucking levels, or you don’t do them, period…Either way, you’re not getting another damn controller.” The trick to finally beating them? Extra floor padding and pillows against the wall, ha! But for all the puzzles and tricks, the game was so engrossing and mentally stimulating that I genuinely felt smarter at school, despite what we’ve ALWAYS heard about video games destroying our minds. I think the only reason I got through high school with my sanity in check and my tendency to spew cynical-yet-delightfully-witty oral vomit to the administrators was because I would just envision them as Koopa’s kids, all lame and sad, and desperate to feel a sense of power and control in a world filled with a bunch of hormonal teenagers. That and I had a few cool teachers.
TL;DR – Super Mario World is the shiz and still very much accessible with today’s emulators. So go play it! And try to be more gentle with Yoshi…his head is squishy.