Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Super Mario Bros 3 vs Super Mario World

These games need no introduction as many people wouldn't hesitate to call either one the best platformer (or even game) of all time. Fans, not surprisingly, often hold debates on which is really the better game.

Comparing how much the series "jumped" in quality and new features with each of these games, SMB3 wins in a  landslide. Consider for a moment that the real SMB2 was just an expansion of sorts with similar design principles and levels as the original, albeit much harder. Therefore when one looks at SMB and SMB3 the difference is astounding. SMW in comparison, feels much more like just a big brother to SMB3. It has some improvements but not enough to feel like a completely new series in the way SMB3 does.

What do I mean when I say that? What makes SMB3 so shiny and different? Well first off the world map is glaringly obvious from the start. Being able to move around on a grid and select a level is far more immersive than SMB's traditional method of linear level progression(barring warps of course). This also opens the possibility of having optional levels - either for an extra challenge, rewarding the player with a powerful item, or branching paths. World maps can also have a very visible theme to them - you know right away whether you are in a desert or water world. Of course the fact you have so much more terrain variety in the levels is another huge improvement in of itself. And warps are still present in the forms of flute items, teleporting you to the warp zone where you can select a new world to play in.

Despite this massive improvement to the series with SMB3, SMW actually does manage to further improve as far as the map system goes.At first it doesn't seem too much more impressive in Yoshi's Island, the first world - its pretty much SMB3's map system with a graphical facelift. But once you enter the Donut Plains you can view the entire world and see how MASSIVE it really is. Many levels can be beaten in more than one way, leading to different paths. You can go through the cave or swim straight through the lake. You can finish your way through Vanilla Dome and take on Castle #3, or climb your way out to the top and take on your first Fortress and proceed to Butter Bridge. Options are everywhere and just by looking at the world map you can only wonder and imagine where secrets or hidden levels might be. To say its a thing of beauty would be an understatement, and I've never seen even an attempt to replicate this sort of world map in any platformer since. Is it simply too daunting to try? If so I think developers should know that many players would be happy to see any sort of attempt even if it does ultimately fall short of SMW's brilliant map. Get to it!

                                                                              Holy Mother of God.


Even though SMW takes it home and then some in the world map department, it falls short in other areas. One such area would be power ups. Players will remember all the awesome items SMB3 introduced like the frog and hammer bros suit. Actually every Mario game since has failed to live up to SMB3's legendary items - nowadays you get terrible half-assed attempts like the turtle suit in New Super Mario Bros... *bleh*.

SMW doesn't have any suits to speak of though, and you can't store items like flowers or even starmen for tricky levels(there's the item box at the top of the screen, but thats not the same thing). But on the other hand, the flying is VASTLY improved, allowing you to dive bomb, drift indefinitely, or swipe your cape to attack so much faster than the tail in SMB3.


                                                                    Swimming has never been so easy.


And while on the topic of items, I do feel the need to mention Yoshi. A definte plus for World, but I feel he actually doesn't add as much to the game as he could - but I do feel he was a strong inspiration for the "Animal Buddies" in the Donkey Kong Country games; which are obviously awesome.

But some would be quick to point to indefinite flying and Yoshi as a liability, as they do make the game MUCH easier than SMB3. Even barring that, the level design feels much more brutal in SMB3 especially near the end of the game. SMB3 is definitely the harder game to beat.

SMB3 pushes the level design a lot more too. What I mean is there is a lot more variety in what you encounter in the levels. You have kuriobo's shoe, the giant world, the level in the 7th world where those little plants alternate coming out of the tunnels(pricks), the levels where you can get non-stop star power out of the blocks if you fast enough, the level where the sun comes down to attack you..I could go on forever really. You can name cool things from SMW too, like Ghost Houses and Switch Palaces...but SMB3 pushes the limits a little more.

That said, I'm thinking SMW has the better enemy roster. Chargin Chucks(the football guys, which have huge amount of variety in of themselves), the blue dinos(rex i think?) that shrink down when you stomp em, crumpling dry bones, koopas pop out of their shell, you can steal capes from some koopas, FREAKING MAGIKOOPAS..yeah. SMB3 does get props for introducing the koopa kids though.

                                                       A true BAMF if I ever saw one.


Overall both games are amazing, if not perfect, and you can't go wrong with either. Personally I would say SMB3 comes just a little closer to pure perfection, but I have to say I like SMW just a little bit more. Why exactly I don't know, but I have always been a fan of its amazing world map setup. It really does put the "world" in Super Mario so to speak. And SMW does have the more amazing secrets..Star World anyone?

But really the real question at hand isn't whether SM3 or SMW is better...its what the fuck happened to Mario? People often poke fun at Sonic and ask where's the REAL Sonic 4, but if you ask me Mario is no better off. If we don't count Yoshi's Island(known as SMBW2 in some countries), then I'd say SMW is the last true 2d Mario platformer. Just like the Sonic Advance games feel like watered down Genesis Sonic games to many, I'd say the "New Super Mario Bros" games are watered down compared to the Mario Bros games of old.

The weird part is Sonic has an excuse; Yuji Naka and several other key members of Sega are gone - they don't work on Sonic games anymore. But Miyamoto still works at Ninty...does he have less creative power these days? Are other key developers of SMB3 and SMW no longer there? What about Miyamoto himself, what does he think of NSMB:DS and NSMB:W? Does he honestly think they can even compare to god-like gaming goodness of SMB3 and World? Does he even care anymore? I'd like to think if I was in his shoes I'd always care, but maybe things change after making two platformers that are about as perfect they can get.

Or maybe as I said, I'm giving one man too much credit. Maybe the team chemistry is no longer there just like it isn't present in Sonic Team. All I know is I've given up waiting for the true Sonic 4 and I've given up waiting for the true SMB4 (or 5..whatever). Instead I wait for a developer that can spur a renaissance and recapture that 16bit magic with a platformer that has all the amazing ideas and free-flowing level design I've come to love. Maybe that developer is me, maybe its one of you reading this pointless analysis/rant/internal debate. All I do know is it isn't Nintendo or Sega or as much as I hate to say it...any modern game company with over 100 people and more than a million dollars to spend on producing a single video game.

I'm not saying company greed is the cause of declining quality in a lot game series, but it seems like no coincidence that the older classics had much smaller teams with much smaller amounts of money to throw around. Was imagination the secret ingredient they used to make up for the lack of pure purchasing power? Money is the root of all evil. Maybe there is some truth to that statement after all.

                           Not a bad game in its own right...but ultimately a huge disappointment.


For the record, Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 were fantastic games...I'm not sure why Mario is still excellent in the 3d realm but the 2d offerings as of late are so pitiful.

31 comments:

JDOGMMA said...

Has to be SMB3 for me...first game I ever was addicted to and still am.

Dejch said...

was always fun to play super mario!

Intraman said...

SMB3 all the way

From The Kitchen said...

SMW for me! Love that game to death.

The problem with Mario is the franchise is simply too large. He's been all over the place, so it's become extremely difficult to produce something truly original for him. I thought SM Galaxy 1 & 2 were both great, but whatever the future holds? Dunno.

Ox Mann said...

SMB3...gotta love a game that hands you "super easy win mode" with the warp whistles

//Love said...

Super, mario, bros for the win.

Pappa Püllï said...

i love the oldschool graphics and especially gameplay! im gonna setup my old nitendo 8bit and play mario =D

CPH said...

Excellent review! Seriously!

H4Gx said...

nice post again. love your blog :)

Graeme said...

Good review dude

Armagedda said...

SMW was better, I really did enjoy your review. Thanks for putting so much time into it, great read.

Fortune said...

Two classic mario installments, changed the way a lot of people looked at the franchise.

MJ to IM said...

SMW BABY!

James T said...

smb3 forever!

my musings. said...

I LOVE SMW! Such a great game.

abraxxxis said...

nostalgia! following!

logo mess said...

super mario world FTW! But i never solved to get 100% !! only 99% this game drove me wild :D

fit4life said...

amazing review, but i still say i prefer the NES mario game over ALL

flowchiller said...

SMW all the way. It was the first Mario I had ever played on a TV screen (played SML1 before) and i loved it!

Santa Is Drowning said...

SMB3 was one of my favorite games to play. SMW was good but SMB3 > SMW

Net Critter said...

Nice analysis, I love designing games and I hope someday I can make a platformer as fun as the old school Mario, if not more!

Von Brownian said...

I remember growing up with both these games, and I found myself playing SMW much more often than 3. Probably because it was much easier. 3 is certainly more challenging, and I think as a whole, more epic in scope.

But agreed, both are god-tier classics.

Gambling Degenerate said...

all these mario games are awesome, i dont think any of them are particularly better than another

west said...

Wow, nice article. takes me back.

Punky said...

Mostly I miss Yoshi, Yoshi was in the Super Mario Bros. Wii in like three levels total and you can't even take him between levels. Overall SMW was my favorite one, even though SMB3 had the tanooki suit, hammer bros. and the shoe.

Vav said...

Both are two great classics any real gamer should play!

Chloroform said...

Oh wow, talk about some nostalgia!

Prototape said...

It's a hard pick between SMB3 and SMW, they are both really fun, and SMW holds serious nostalgia value to me... But I think SMB3 is probably my favorite.

CollinBeloin said...

My vote goes to SMW, its the best classic ever

Noises said...

nice

zemzero said...

SMW was the first real Mario game I got into. Most of my time with NES went into Duck Hunt and that Karate game or Silent Hunter. SMB3 though is great, I miss the frog suit and raccoon tail.

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