Gamachronicles: Super Mario (part 4)

Today we are going to focus on the next two installments in the Super Mario Series: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and Super Mario All-Stars, both for the SNES.

Gamachronicles are multi-part features on a famous or noteworthy game series, diving into some of its most memorable moments and providing additional perspective on its history.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

After the release of Super Mario World, Yoshi gained popularity and starred in a few puzzle game spin-offs. Super Mario World character designer Shigefumi Hino was approached by Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and asked to develop an original project.

Hino felt that they had already explored every possible avenue with 2D Mario platformers (Super Mario 64 was in its preliminary stages of development at this point), and he landed on the idea of using Yoshi as the main character of a platforming game The goal was to make the game more accessible than previous games in the Mario series.

Newly-hired artist Hisashi Nogami conceived the game’s unique marker-drawn artstyle, with the game’s unique look achieved by drawing by hand, digitally scanning the drawings, and then approximating them pixel-by-pixel.

The game cartridge used an extra microchip, the Super FX2, to support the game’s rotation, scaling and other sprite-changing special effects. The chip powered scenes including a drawbridge falling into the foreground, rotation effects like rolling and enlarged rather than reanimated enemies, and a psychedelic effect in a level when Yoshi touches a floating fungus.

Psychedelic mushrooms powered by Super FX2

Yoshi’s Island was released first in Japan in August 1995, and two months later in North America and Europe. At the time of release, the Super Nintendo was in its twilight as a console in anticipation of the Nintendo 64, to be released the following year.

Yoshi’s Island received “instant” and “universal acclaim”, according to an IGN retrospective, and Nintendo Power said the game was “one of the biggest, most beautiful games ever made”.

Super Mario All-Stars

Box art

Super Mario All-Stars was a compilation of all the Super Mario Bros games released for the NES and Famicom with updated graphics and music. It included Super Mario Bros 1, 2, and 3, as well as the Japan version of Super Mario Bros 2, called “The Lost Levels.”

Title screen

After the completion of Super Mario Kart in 1992, Mario creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, suggested that Nintendo develop a SNES Mario compilation. As the 16-bit SNES was more powerful, the developers were able to remaster the games in the transition across platforms. They based the updated designs on those from Super Mario World while striving to retain the feel of the original NES Mario titles.

Super Mario Bros 2 remastered

Nintendo released Super Mario All-Stars worldwide in late 1993 and rereleased it in 1994 with Super Mario World included as an added title.

All-Stars re-release with Super Mario World

Critics praised the collection’s games as excellent remasters, stating they aged well and appreciating the effort that went into retrofitting them for the SNES. A reviewer from Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM), overwhelmed by the improvements, called it a “masterpiece from beginning to end”.

Super Mario All-Stars was also the first time North American audiences had the opportunity to play the Japan-only version of Super Mario Bros 2, now called “The Lost Levels”.

The Lost Levels, aka Super Mario Bros 2 Japan remake

While Nintendo hasn’t brought All-Stars to their Nintendo Online service on the Switch, one can hope that they will someday soon.

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