Few games are as good as Super Mario World. That is an undeniable fact. Though no game is as amazing for a launch title than SMW. It starts off with a little story splash screen. King Koopa kidnapped the princess and turned all the yoshi into eggs. Not the most gripping story, but enough to tell you this game is more narrative focused. Super Mario Bros 3 had some bit of narrative from each King and a letter from the princess. So we are already used to some story. Still this one hits you with it right at the start. WAM! Heads up kid this one’s different. Which the changes keep comin’ on the map screen.
Unlike Mario 3 you get to choose. Left or right, your call friendo! Since almost every other game forces you to progress to the right, you go left. Find a big yellow switch as well as take a peek at the larger map. That’s when you know this game is gonna have a good focus on exploration. So you already know this game is a step above the last, and it’s the launch title at that. Even if you didn’t get into the Super Nintendo back in the day odds are it’s your first exposure to the SNES. With a larger world, flowing map, fantastic graphics and even a completion bonus for finding the extra hard levels we get a good idea of what the 16 bit Nintendo can do. Oh that completion bonus? Turns all the colors from summer to autumn as well as all new enemy sprites.
Launch titles are important, because well there are so few of them. Making a solid game with a linear path to the end, but tons of extra stages and secrets is a must. Mario 64 did this as well, but unlike SMW it has some awkward learning moments for being 3D. Mario World is simple and controls like a dream. The game keeps giving way past the SNES’ lifespan. A perfect launch title should stand as a benchmark for the system not just where it started. Sonic is a good example of that. Sonic 1 is solid sure, but the next two just kept raising the bar. I enjoy me some Starlight Zone, who doesn’t, but I gotta be in the mood. Mario World is an anytime pick up and play. Especially because ya know save files.
Another perfect choice to make the system seem more impressive. Sure the save battery is on the cartridge, but as a kid you don’t think about that. You just know some games save, and others have annoying passwords or level select codes. Not Mario World it holds onto every unlocked stage letting you play any part you want, whenever you want. Even if you probably just kept starting over for the rush you get from the progression. It was still nice having the option to just dive into save one anytime you just want some stress free yoshi fueled fun. All this from a game that was likely just tossed in with your purchase.
Pack in titles aren’t as common as they used to be. Hell Launch window Mario isn’t as common as he used to be. Which is a shame because sure most Mario titles are beautiful. They have such a polished and stylized look that magically ages very well. Just it lacks the punch it used to have when he isn’t the first game you boot up in your brand new Nintendo. Mario Odyssey looks great, but by then we were used to it. Mario World was a colorful unlike anything we were used to.
Just look at that jump. It’s mind blowing side by side. Now imagine if you played F Zero first, another launch title on SNES. Or following recent trends if they released a Zelda title for launch so… Link to the Past.
Suddenly it doesn’t seem as impactful. Honestly I think it’s been a huge mistake for Nintendo to be waiting so long for Mario titles on new systems. Mario Sunshine, Mario Galaxy, and Mario Odyssey all great games that just don’t hit my mind when I think Mario games. Mario is the system to me. Even when they mistakenly don’t launch with him his games are how I grade a system. Even your beloved GameCube loses points in my book for how long it took to bring me Mario. Then when the clouds parted and Mario descended on his golden beam of sunshine, well I was over it. Sure it was Mario. It was whimsical and fun. It was a solid GameCube game. It was what I expected. That is the problem. Mario titles have a pace and a polish that really allows you to take in how amazing they can be, how fun your system can be, and just how great it feels to just get lost into a video game for awhile. Ultimately you can have a good Mario game not at launch. You can have a good launch title that isn’t Mario. But when you have a good Mario title at launch, BOOM!, that’s what I call a perfect system launch.