Faceoff Retro! Super Mario Bros. 3 vs Super Mario World
For this week’s edition of Faceoff, I decided to rewind the clock and pit two classic titles against each other in a head to head battle. Both Super Mario Bros. 3, and it’s sequel, Super Mario World are two of my favorite games of all time. But out of the two, there is only one that I consistently play and still get that feeling of wonder and amazement I felt when I first popped the cartidge into my system. Retro Faceoff starts now!
Super Mario Bros. 3 - Well, it’s Super Mario Bros; the story is rather inconsequential. In a nutshell, King Koopa and his 7 children have systematically taken over seven kingdoms throughout the Mushroom Kingdom by using the King’s very own sceptors against them. It is up to Mario and Luigi to set things right by any means necessary. Which generally revolves around hopping, bopping, and power-upping through 8 worlds. Outside of that setup, there really isn’t much else to the story.
Super Mario World - That no-goodnik King Koopa is at it again, this time kidnapping Princess Peach (like he does in every other Mario Bros. game), and Mario and Luigi, with the help of a dinosaur named Yoshi, venture forth across Dinosaur land to save her. Like in previous Mario Bros. games, the story pretty much stops there.
I have to say that on the story front, both games are a wash, although Koopa’s 7 children (who also make an appearance in Super Mario World), added some character to the feel of Super Mario Bros. 3.
Super Mario Bros. 3 - The gameplay of Super Mario Bros. 3 was simultaneously a departure from previous Mario games, and yet, exactly in line with previous Mario games. The game was still a 2D side-scrolling platformer, but it added an overworld, which allowed players to play, and replay the levels in nearly whatever order they liked. What made things even more interesting is that, if the player chose, they could even bypass certain levels, if there was an alternate route around them on the map.
There were also mini-games located on the map in Toad’s huts, where players could earn powerups to take with them into the 2D levels. Further adding to the depth of the gameplay were host of new powerups that transformed Mario and Luigi into various animals. There was the Racoon Tail, which allowed Mario to fly up into the air for a limited time once he gathered enough speed. There was a Frog costume, which allowed him to jump really high, and swim through water with ease. And there was the Bear costume, which allowed Mario to turn his body to stone, and protect himself from enemies.
These aren’t the only powerups/specials available in the game, and the superb level design really tested your platforming chops.
Super Mario World - The gameplay of Super Mario World simply took elements from Super Mario Bros. 3, and attempted to improve upon them, such as the overworld, and power up system (players were able to store one powerup in a slot at the top of the screen, and press the Select button to activate it, should they need it). Unfortunately, a few elements, like the mini-games and costumes, were dropped in favor of the new Flight Feather, which allowed Mario to fly through the air and do powerbomb dives, and the ability to ride Yoshi throughout levels, using him to swallow up enemies.
There were hidden zones, much like in previous Mario games, but overall, the game was very linear. A new level wouldn’t open up until you completed the previous one, and there wasn’t any deviations from the path. All levels had to be completed.
The platforming was awesomely intense, and overall level design was great, due to the new environment, but overall, Super Mario World didn’t really do much to set itself apart from Super Mario Bros. 3. I also think that the controls aren’t as tight as in Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s hard to describe, but they feel a little looser. Don’t get me wrong, however, the controls is SMW are fantastic, but SMB3 feels that much tighter.
Now, this is a no brainer section in terms of which game will come out on top. Obviously, Super Mario World features the superior visual presentation, with a rich color palette that vividly displays Dinosaur Land in all it’s glory, as well as some fancy visual effects for entering/exiting zones.
Super Mario Bros. 3 was certainly no joke in it’s day, however, boasting some impressive sprite animations and varied levels. Super Mario Bros. 3 debuted in 1988 on the NES, while Super Mario World debuted on the SNES in 1990, so it was bound to take the cake in terms of visuals.
Of course, playing Super Mario Bros. All Stars evens out the graphics a bit by bringing Super Mario Bros. 3 into the 16 bit era, and on par with Super Mario World in most respects.
I thought long and hard about this before reaching my final decision, but in the end, I feel that Super Mario Bros. 3 is the superior game to Super Mario World in the end. Not much superior, mind you, but for this old gamer, I still enjoy popping the game into my NES (or playing it via emulator on my PSP), and the game is no less superb than it was when I first played it in 1988. Super Mario World is also a fantastic gaming experience, but losing features like the costumes, the linearity of the overworld design, and controls that I feel just aren’t as tight as Super Mario Bros. 3 makes it feel like less of a game than it’s predecessor. It’s beautiful presentation is no comparison, but gameplay is where it matters, and in this case, the old horse beats out the new one, but just barely.
Super Mario Bros. 3