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Super Mario World: just saying it brings on nostalgia and reverence. It’s a game that I’ve personally put more time into than nearly any other Super Mario game and has been a part of my life since first seeing it played at a local daycare. I’ve loved this game since before I could read and the reasons are immeasurable, but to celebrate its 25 birthday, just a month before my own, I’m going to try. I won’t be able to cover every corner of Dinosaur Land (as much as I’d like to!) but I’m going to highlight some of the key reasons why Super Mario World, to this day, is my favorite in the series and one of my favorite games of all time.

The presentation of the game continues to blow me away to this day. From the slanted mountains in the background, the crisp primary colors, and the sound and musical stylings of composer Koji Kondo breathe life into the worlds and levels. Mario himself had never looked better either, with a clearly defined face and softer tints to him than the world surrounding. It made him stand out and made keeping track of the plumber in the lush environments second nature rather than a chore. From Boo Houses to Switch Palaces, everything on the game’s map built from Super Mario Bros. 3’s use of it and blended into an entire, flowing world rather than a series of otherwise unrelated areas. And what a world it was, from Donut Plains to the totally radical Special World every place on the map was a treat. Must be why it started the now-traditional food naming for worlds, a far cry from simply numbering them.

No world would be enjoyable without a proper means to travel, and this game delivers in spades. The basic running and jumping felt tight and responsive and the spin jump provided a new tool for level progression, one so notable it allows for unique challenges on the Wii U’s Super Mario Maker. But it wouldn’t be Super Mario World without talking about what Mario has with him on the box art: the cape and Yoshi. While flying as Raccoon Mario was iconic and unique it couldn’t match the feeling of speed and flight a Cape Feather brought. Mastering pulling back to gain altitude and diving forward to gain speed made flight engaging and dynamic, and the ability to dive bomb the ground added a satisfying sense of impact.

More than anything Super Mario World brought us Yoshi, the dinosaur mount that had been the staff’s dream since the original game’s completion. He was fast, he could walk on things Mario couldn’t, and his tongue let you attack from a distance. Yoshi’s presence would never be unfelt, leading to a successful game series all his own as well as a guaranteed presence at parties, kart rallies, and being one of the original eight playable characters of Super Smash Bros. The first time Yoshi hatches from his egg is an amazing moment of delayed gratification from Nintendo. His prominent presence on the game’s art and advertising guaranteed curiosity and when you finally hear his one of a kind call the smile is unavoidable.

There is no denying that the original Super Mario Bros. is in a league of its own and has left the greatest mark on gaming and the world. What’s more notable is how this game did nearly the same. Listening to its soundtrack as I write this made me realize that I get more of an emotional response from its Overworld Theme than the (still amazing) Ground Theme from the NES original. While this isn’t about which game is “best” the highest praise I can give to Super Mario World is that Shigeru Miyamoto has gone on record saying that it his personal favorite game in the series. That amount of praise speaks for itself and needs no more, but I humbly agree and wish it a Happy 25th Anniversary.

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Written by Ricky Berg

When he isn’t writing for Nintendo Wire, Ricky’s anticipating the next Kirby, Fire Emblem, or if the stars ever align, Mother 3 to be released. Till then he’ll have the warm comfort of Super Smash Bros. to keep him going.