Released alongside the launch of the new Super Nintendo Entertainment System on November 21, 1990, Super Mario World marked a massive turning point in the Mario franchise and has since gone on to be considered one of the greatest video game of all time.
The installment is a direct sequel to 1988’s Super Mario Bros. 3 and finds the Mario Brothers venturing to Dinosaur Land to once again rescue Princess Toadstool from the Koopa King. However, this time they have series newcomer Yoshi on their side, who aids the player through 96 totally new levels in what was easily the most ambitious Mario game to date.
The game was directed by Takashi Tezuka and produced by series creator Shigeru Miyamoto, and together they worked with a team of just 14 other developers who struggled to adjust to the new hardware of the SNES while also trying to meet a strict deadline. Despite all of these challenges, the team went on to create what is easily one of the most beloved games in the franchise.
Even after a quarter century, Super Mario World still holds up to modern day standards thanks to the sheer amount of detail and secrets that are hidden within the game.
Let’s break down the 15 Things You Never Knew About Super Mario World.
15 Special Zone easter eggs
Though the Special Zone might not be much of a secret today, for earlier players, discovering Star World was already such a revelation that many would have never suspected that there was yet another hidden area within the game. But even if you’ve since mastered this world, there are still a few details you might have missed.
For starters, the peculiar design at the top of the zone might not mean anything to Western audiences, but it's actually the logo for the Super Famicom -- which was the SNES equivalent in other countries. Additionally, if you hang out on the map for two minutes, the music will change to a remix of the overworld theme from the original Super Mario Bros. — which doesn’t appear anywhere else in the game.
And if you just so happen to master all eight levels, there will be significant changes to the rest of the game, including enemies altering their appearances, and the seasons changing from spring to fall on the overworld maps.
14 You can “beat” the game in less than 5 minutes
Alright, so you can’t actually beat the game in five minutes or less — unless you consider prematurely trigger the credits to roll to be as impressive as defeating in Bowers. And in this case, it actually is.
For most people, speedrunning through a game just means going as fast as humanly possible while utilizing all of the game’s shortcuts. But for people who are actually interested in coding, this means literally rewriting the game’s original code as you play by performing a set of very specific movements, triggering the game to glitch.
In the case of Super Mario World, this can be accomplished in the game’s first level within a matter of minutes, jumping you straight to the game’s final credits. However, since these movements need to be performed to the exact pixel multiple times, this is by no means a strategy that your average Mario player can hope to accomplish without tons of practice.
13 But you can actually beat the game in only 12 stages
If you’re looking for a far more manageable way to complete a speedrun of Super Mario World that doesn’t require any knowledge of coding or glitches, you can actually still complete the game in about 20 minutes — pretty impressive when you consider the hours and weeks that we slaved over this game as kids.
By using every shortcut in your arsenal, you actually only have to complete 11 levels before making it to Bowser’s backdoor. To do this, you need to use ever secret exit starting with the first level in Donut Plains. This will take you straight to the Star Road and — after completing four levels there — straight to the Valley of Bowser.
This is known as the “11 Exit” speedrun, which can be completed by pros in under 10 minutes. Though this could very well still take casual players upwards of 45 minutes or longer.
12 It spawned a spin-off TV series
Released a month after the game hit shelves in North America, the Super Mario World TV series debuted on September 14, 1991, and ran for only 13 episodes. The show was incorporated into a half-hour time slot with Captain N: The Game Master, which aired on NBC as part of their Saturday morning cartoon programming.
Just like the game, the show found the Mario Brothers along with Princess Toadstool and Yoshi living in Dinosaur Land and battling against Bowser and the Koopalings. However, the series also depicted the land being inhabited by cave people —possibly implying that the characters had somehow traveled back in time.
Unfortunately, like the two previous Mario games that had been brought over to TV, the Super Mario World series was largely a disappointment, which explains why the show only aired for a few months.
11 Yoshi was originally going to be a Koopa
Although this was the first Mario game to feature Yoshi, Shigeru Miyamoto had wanted Mario to ride an animal ever since the release of Super Mario Bros. However, the NES didn’t have the technical capabilities to make this a reality, and it would have to wait until the release of the Super Famicom in 1990 before it was even a possibility.
Though Mario’s trusty companion took many of his traits from the character of Tamagon in Devil World (1984) — who also had the ability to eat objects and hatch eggs — Yoshi was originally going to be a Koopa in Super Mario World, who just so happened to be fighting alongside Mario.
Luckily, the shell eventually became a saddle and Yoshi was made into an entirely new species, turning him into the iconic character that we know today.
10 And eat dolphins
Easily the best part about playing with Yoshi — outside of having an animal companion by your side — is that the friendly dinosaur can do a ton of things that Mario and Luigi are incapable of, including swallowing up enemies that are otherwise unbeatable, spitting out fireballs, and flying around without needing a running start.
Yoshi is just as helpful and as wholesome as Mario’s other allies, but it might surprise Western players to learn that the character is able to eat dolphins in the Japanese version of the game.
While this change could have very well been made to make the game easier — since the dolphins only help the player get through the level anyway — it’s likely that this was altered due to cultural differences. After all, while eating dolphin would be considered widely unacceptable in North America, it’s definitely not unheard of in Japan, especially for older generations.
9 More Legend of Zelda references
Since both Mario and Zelda were created by Shigeru Miyamoto, it’s not surprising that both franchise often have overlapping concepts or hidden references for the player to stumble upon. For instance, the Warp Whistle that Mario uses in Super Mario Bros. 3 is the same instrument that Link played in the original Legend of Zelda. But in the case of Super Mario World, the most overt reference to Zelda comes when Mario enters the game’s fifth world, known as the Forest of Illusion.
Much like the Lost Woods -- which is a recurring location in many Zelda games -- the Forest of Illusion isn’t the easiest area to escape, and if the player only completes each level’s standard exit, the map will continue to take Mario in a loop. This is extremely similar to how Link will often end up back at the entrance of the Lost Woods, forcing the player to retrace their steps and look for something they might have missed the first time around.
8 The Sunken Ghost Ship is an airship from Super Mario Bros. 3
One of the more unique levels in Super Mario World, the Sunken Ghost Ship is the first level in World 7 of the game and also serves as the gateway to the Valley of Bowser.
It involves making your way through a sunken ship that is filled with ghosts — making it the only level where Boos appear outside of the Ghost Houses, and the only time that Yoshi can be used around these enemies.
You may have also noticed that this is the only level in Super Mario World where a Magic Ball appears, which is an item that popped up in the fortresses of Super Mario Bros. 3. This is because the Sunken Ghost Ship is actually one of the Koopalings airships from the previous game.
Though the game’s creators have never specified which ship it actually is (or explained why the Magic Ball shows up in an airship), it’s still a neat reference considering that the game is a direct sequel to Super Mario Bros. 3.
7 It’s the first Mario game with a save feature
Before at-home consoles were ever a thing, the only place you could play video games was at an arcade, where they were designed to be played in a single-sitting without the need for a player to save their progress.
But this all changed with the release of the original Legend of Zelda game in 1987, which featured an internal battery in the game's golden cartridge that backed up the player's progress on a small RAM chip. Now, video games could become more complex than ever before.
Though Super Mario Bros. 3 was released a year after The Legend of Zelda, this saving featured wouldn’t make it into the Mario franchise until 1990’s Super Mario World.
This new ability no doubt made the game more accessible to casual players. No longer would you have to slave away for hours at a time or start all over the next time you turned on your console, making Super Mario World largely more enjoyable than its predecessors.
6 Super Mario World 2 is actually a prequel
With a name like Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, you would think that this 1995 game would pick up right where Super Mario World left off. But this game is actually a prequel, as well as the first game in the Mario franchise chronologically — making the “2” in the title that much more confusing.
This is the first game to cast Yoshi as the main character, which finds the player controlling the friendly dinosaur while he escorts a Baby Mario on his back through 48 levels. The game featured a new aesthetic, representative of a hand-drawn design, which was met with universal acclaim for both look and the gameplay.
Thus, Yoshi’s Island would go on to spawn its own series of sequels and spin-offs, including Yoshi’s Story, Yoshi’s New Island, and Yoshi’s Island DS, which also all take place before the events of Super Mario World.
5 Plenty of ideas had to be abandoned due to console capabilities
Since Super Mario World is far more complex and contained more levels than its predecessors, it might be surprising to find out that there were still plenty of ideas that the game creators had to abandon. Despite Super Mario World being released on a brand new console, the game cartridges still limited the amount of detail that could be worked into the graphics, even though more colors could be displayed on screen.
Because of this limited space, a number of ideas had to be cut. For instance, the idea of having various difficulty settings could not be achieved, and as a compromise, the developers created the Switch Palaces, which ostensibly allowed the player to go back into old levels and discover something new after the Dotted Line Blocks were transformed into solid Exclamation Mark Blocks.
There was also the idea of including an overworld Koopaling that would drag the player into levels, similarly to the Word 8 Hand Traps in Super Mario Bros. 3, which also had to be scrapped.
4 Raccoon Mario was originally slated to reappear
As a result of the developers having to meet a strict deadline, the creators largely relied on revamping many of the ideas and levels from previous Super Mario Bros. games to match the new console’s capabilities. Thus, many of the iconic power-ups make a reappearance in Super Mario World, including Super Mario, Fire Mario, and Star Power.
But why didn’t Raccoon Mario make a reappearance? Early footage of the game actually shows Mario in his Raccoon suit with a sprite for the Super Leaf, but of course, this would later be replaced with the Cape Feather.
Why exactly the creators chose to swap the power-ups isn’t totally clear, but it may have had to do with the inclusion of Yoshi and Mario's ability to fly while still on his back.
3 The title screen is a level from the Special World
Despite being one of the best-hidden areas in any Mario game, the player actually gets a look at Special World before they even start playing the game. Even if you were one of those players that stumbled upon this secret area without the help of a cheat manual, there’s still a good chance that you never connected these two dots.
The title screen for Super Mario World — which runs for about 30 seconds and highlighted the new capabilities of riding Yoshi — is actually the fifth level in the Special World, titled “Groovy.” Though there are still some subtle differences between both levels, there’s no denying that the two are the same platform, which just so happens to also be one of the easiest levels in the Special World.
2 It’s the creator’s favorite Mario game
Series creator and game producer Shigeru Miyamoto has been outspoken about feeling as though Super Mario World was never fully completed at the time of its release. In order to coincide with the release of the brand new Super Nintendo, development on the game was rushed at the end, resulting in many ideas having to be abandoned, although they would later show up in future Mario games.
Despite this, Super Mario World remains Miyamoto’s favorite Mario game despite being released over a quarter-century ago. This may be largely due to the fact that it is the first game in the franchise that was able to introduce Yoshi, an idea that Miyamoto had been sitting on since the release of the original Super Mario Bros.
1 It’s the best-selling SNES game by far
Since it’s widely considered one of the best Mario games of all time —if not the best — it should be no surprise that Super Mario World was met with universal acclaim upon its debut.
The release of the game occurred during the console wars between Nintendo and Sega, which found Mario up against the new and somewhat flashier Sega mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. Though the two games sold almost the same amount of copies on their respected platforms, Super Mario World is still by far the best-selling game of the SNES, with over 20 million copies sold.
This is nearly double the runner-up, which just so happens to be Super Mario All-Stars - that game sold over 10 million copies, with Donkey Kong Country coming in third. Though it’s worth mentioning that all of these games, including Sonic, were bundled with their respective consoles, which no doubt sky-rocketed their sales.
Did we miss any obscure Super Mario World facts or Easter eggs? Let us know!
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