Monday, September 21, 2009
This week Mario Monday returns with a look at the only sequel, although it could be considered a prequel, to the critically acclaimed Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo. Today we take a look at Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island takes place well before any of the games in the Mario timeline. It is also the first game in which the character of Yoshi is the playable character. Yoshi was introduced in the previous Super NES installment of the Mario series and clearly had become a fan favorite. If not for the technical limitations of the Nintendo Entertainment System, Yoshi would have been introduced years before the Super Nintendo came along. Now that it had Yoshi was taking the world by storm.
The premise of Super Mario World 2 is that the stork that had been flying Baby Mario and Baby Luigi was attacked by Kamek the Magikoopa. The wizardly Koopa snatched Baby Luigi but Baby Mario fell to the ground. Baby Mario had fallen on a Yoshi, along with a map, and the Yoshi consulted with the other Yoshis to determine what the best course of action was. Meanwhile Kamek sent out an army of his own to search and recover Baby Mario.
After learning that Baby Mario wanted to save his missing brother, the Yoshis set out on a quest to save the missing toddler.
Game play in Super Mario World 2 is truly unique to the rest of the franchise. Baby Mario rides on the back of Yoshi, who must jump on and swallow baddies that get in the way. Yoshi also has the ability to throw eggs at his enemies. To do so Yoshi must line up a shot using the aimer that rotates on an axis. When the shot is lined up on the target Yoshi hurls an egg at whatever may be in the way.
Yoshi can also speed watermelon seeds at his foes. His number of seeds is determined by the size of the watermelon he digests.
Should Yoshi be attacked by an enemy Mario is vulnerable to be taken away. If Mario is being flown away by flying enemies Yoshi must re-capture the crying baby and fend off the baddies. But Yoshi must hurry because if the countdown reaches zero the game is over.
Speaking of enemies, Yoshi will encounter many familiar and many new bad guys. Goombas, Lakitu, and Koopa Troopas are there to cause trouble as always. The most notable return though is that of the Shy Guy, who was once a part of Mario's dream adventure in Super Mario Brothers 2. So the question must be asked; was Mario really having a bad flashback dream of sorts in Super Mario Brothers 2? Was he having bad memories of the Shy Guys in his adulthood that have been hiding in the back of his memory?
In addition to the traditional game play there are a number of extra hidden in the game. For example, Super Mario World 2 is the first game to make use of the red coin system. Finding all of the hidden red coins in a level will help to unlock secret areas and higher scores.
What leaves an impression on me from this game is the graphics style, which came about as a bit of a controversy at the time. After the wild success of Donkey Kong Country, in which the Super NES had shown off some of the best graphics possible on the hardware, Nintendo pressured Shigeru Miyamoto to use a similar look in the Super Mario World sequel. Miyamoto though was not impressed with Donkey Kong Country and challenged Nintendo to say no to his unique idea. Miyamoto, being the reason Nintendo has been so successful, is a man that the company just could not say no to, so the crayon look stayed.
The game has more of an hand-drawn animated feel to it than Super Mario World. The game also makes beautiful use of the Super FX 2 chip to create some fantastic visuals of sprite scaling in boss scenes. And much like any Mario game, the music hard in the game is catchy and sometimes hard to get out of your head.
Feel free to share your thoughts about this game in the comments section below.