Gamestyle Archive intro: This review comes from a zip file where the reviewer (Chris Parker) kindly enclosed the text and bitmaps and a jpeg screenshot. It is also a rare example of a Gamestyle Ten score. Also note the various scoring categories – these were dispensed with in later versions of the site as we preferred an overall score.
Format: Game Boy Advance
Published: January 2002
As has been said many times by many a reviewer, Gamecube was the first Nintendo console to launch without a Mario killer-app. Obviously, with the GBA coming a six months previous to the N64’s cubic heir (well, in most countries) this must mean that the GBA had a Mario game on launch.
Didn’t it? Well…..yes. Yes, in that there was a game on the shelves with Mario’s iconoclastic tash and name plastered on it, but alas – the gameplay was not the quintessential Italian plumbing joy that most prospective buyers assumed it to be.
A confused mix-match between turnip-chucking and multi character hopping through shy-guy infested levels, never really set the world alight with innovation or general class. But one thing it did do was shift an awful lot of copies.
Thankfully Nintendo, in their ever generous mood of late, have seen fit to give us an update of what some might call the ultimate Mario game. None of that Mario Bros 2/Doki Doki Panic malarkey anymore. This is Mario World. Undoubtedly one of Nintendo’s greatest titles ever commited to cartridge.
As with all Miyamoto epics it starts off small. The very first level settles you in to the perfectly balanced left-to-right formula of collecting coins and squashing goombas. From then on, the large for it’s time and still nicely endowed game map, sprawls out across the title’s name sake: Mario World. Encompassing the rich green hills and blocks and snowy moving platforms that gamers have loved for years, is no mean feat for Nintendo’s handheld and although the 32-bit processor is capable of so much more – one thing made perfectly clear by this title, is that Nintendo meant it when they said the GBA was the ultimate 2D console. The scenery glides by seamlessly, Mario moves on a precise 2D plain with his trademark pixelised grace, and the game even switches into Mode 7 for some of the scaling boss battles.
The gameplay mechanics throughout are classic Mario, and the whole thing handles wonderfully on the tiny machine. Levels consist of pleasing cerebral challenges as you progress and as ever you really feel that Miyamoto (or Shiggy as he is annoyingly referred to on your typical Nintendo forum) has created a labour of love. Each level has it’s own, distinctive tune composed by the greatly talented composers up at NCL over ten years ago.
Note-worthy additions to the SNES original though, are rare. You do, however get the slightly pointless opportunity to play as Luigi by tapping one of the shoulder buttons before entering a level, although beyond a slight variation in handling this makes absolutely no difference whatsoever.
Secondly, Nintendo have bewilderingly tagged on the Mario Bros mini-game that was seen in the first Mario Advance. Now, don’t get me wrong here. But surely there must have been something else slightly more suitable than a mini-game that has seen it’s day already more than twice now. Perhaps a race style duel like that seen in Mario Bros DX on the GBC? Well maybe with the inevitable Mario Advance 3.
Luckily, they have also left the wonderful aural side of Mario World well alone, with the only real addition to the games acoustics being the inclusion of Mario Advance 1’s tinny Mario speech, so now you can hear the immortal “Lets-a-go” when you fire up for a quick game.
But then, it never is a quick game with Mario World. Sure, you could blast through a favourite level of yours. You could take a five-minute whirl at the seemingly pointless Mario Bros add-on. But Mario World always spirals into a heavy, yet joyous gaming session where Mario and the ever-vigilant enemies hold your attention and your thumbs for the longest time since Mario 64.
In fact, it’s been 6 years since a brand new Mario game in the normal jump and collect vein has graced a console. Sure there’s been several Wario Lands, and the odd Party here and there, but Sunshine in the summer of this year will be the first genuinely original Brooklyn-based plumber platformer since the flabber-gasting roller coaster of Mario 64.
The thing is, after re-experiencing Mario World and the 40 hours+ of gold plated gameplay that entailed. Sunshine and the surrounding rumours of cel-shading and backpacking, all pale in comparison.
Miyamoto could give Peach a tash, make Mario an uber-realistic BT salesman, cel-shade every darned game on the Gamecube; and we wouldn’t give a stuff. Simply because, what we have here is beyond doubt the GBA’s best game along with Advance Wars; and a heart-warming reminder of by-gone days where Link and the Moomins were never mentioned in the same sentence.
Graphics 10/10- sprite based, and still a damn fine looker.
Gameplay 10/10 – vintage, classic and most importantly – nigh on perfect
Sound 9/10 – tinny in places, but catchy all the same. Voices may grate if you aren’t Charles Martinet’s biggest fan.
Mastery 9/10 – doesn’t suck the juice from the GBA as much as, say Ecks vs Sever – but it does a fine job all the same.
Longevity 10/10 – 112 levels, and an okay multiplayer. Buy it, spend 40 hours+ completing it, then play it again. And again. And again…
Total (not an average) 10/10 – Words almost defy me. This is the game to convince young whipper-snappers that 2D is king, or the title to make SNES fans like us weep. An incredibly ambitious, well rounded and superb game. And most importantly – now playable on the toilet.