Super Mario World:: The Pinnacle of 2D Plumber Platforming

March 15th, 2008

super mario world

Theres been plenty of hearty debate over which 2D Mario game rules them all. With the release of Super Mario Galaxy this brought about even more discussion. I was never really interested in these debates despite being a lime long Mario fanboy. But after reading the Super Mario World page in The 100 Best Video Games I thought that they mentioned a few good ideas that I want to expand upon.

The Rules

Okay, a few things need to be made clear. We are only referring to true Mario platformers, so this doesn’t include:

Now, the question at hand is “What is the best 2D Mario platformer?”.

So with these rules in mind, here are the list of possible candidates:

To kick thing off we can cross off New Super Mario Bros. The game just didn’t live up to the other games in the series. The level design wasn’t as clever, the game was overall far too easy and although it introduces those giant mushrooms it lacked the better abilities from the other Mario games such as the cape, frog suit and Yoshi.

Although they are awesome games and generally do get overlooked during these arguments, I’m going to have to disregard the Gameboy Mario games. Their main strength comes from miniaturizing the console titles rather than pushing the series forward. Gunpei Yokoi also headed up these titles, although I liked how his games didn’t feel like conventional mushroom kingdom games, it did make the games feel somewhat out of line with the Mario universe. Plus they introduced Princess Daisy which made things way too confusing. But then again the sequel did introduce Wario. I guess we can overlook this then ^_^

So we are down to the lastthree: Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World. Out of these three games SMW is the least innovative. Super Mario Bros started it all, Super Mario Bros 3 took it to an all new level and Super Mario World polished it to perfection.

As the rules state, we are after the BEST game. Therefore Super Mario World must win. Despite how ground breaking the other games were, SMW is the most polished and perfected game in the series. It is bigger, better and more refined than its predecessors. Which ultimately makes it the best 2D Mario platformer in existence.

  • I tend to agree with you, although there’s a huge nostalgia factor there for me with Super Mario World. Also, wasn’t this the first Mario platformer that let you save your game? Could you save in Mario 3? I can’t really remember that well. That would be a really huge factor in allowing such a large world and number of levels.

  • Super Mario Bros 3 had to be played straight out, no saving. I believe that the GBA iteration (Super Mario Advance 4) allowed you to save.

    I reckon that SMB3 wouldn’t have been able to fit any more levels in the cart, it was huge. I think that they used the largest sized NES cart available to hold the game as well.

  • Gotta place my vote for SMB 3. The perfect, self-contained, full realization of the series. I have to deduct a few points from SMW for lack of recycling and lack of originality, which SMB 3 has in spades. I see SMB 3 as the pure pinnacle of the platforming genre…but of course these things are subjective, aren’t they? 🙂

    Thanks for the article.

  • meant to say “recycling” not “lack of recycling”…unless we’re talking about environmental recycling, which none of the Mario games did well at all. All that nasty plastic!


  • You know I am really torn on this issue actually. I find myself agreeing with everything you are saying Micheal. I remember Super Mario Bros 3 as the height of my childhood pleasure. It is very dear to me and hence why this site is littered with SMB3 imagery.

    On the other hand, SMW is a better game when comparing the two straight out. This was the underlying point that I was trying to get at; Do you include cultural relevance and industry impact or do you compare the games as equal with no consideration of year of release difference?

    I have some strong ideas about this and will likely back this up with another article sometime.

  • Which was the one on the SNES? Super Mario World? I think so… that was definitely my favorite.