Super Mario World SNES and GBA comparisons

Super Mario world and Gameboy combine


-This game originally came out in 1990 as a sequel to Super Mario Bros 3. It was included in the 1994 version of Super Mario All-Stars, ported to Virtual Console in 2007, and included in Super NES Classic in 2017. Here we will cover some neat things about the remake/port Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 from 2001. This idea spawned from me owning the manual to both versions and secondly this gamefaqs as linked here. Because that guide is well done and covers a lot, our main focus will be changes in the manuals! Turns out they changed a lot more than you’d think. Read on and enjoy!

The Manual

-The GBA port of Super Mario World’s manual rewords the story found in the original manual. The original explicitly states that SMW takes places after SMB3 however like the great Koopaling dispute that's been changed over the years. Source: Kotaku article

-The original exposes the Mario bros as slackers. It states that they went to sleep when Peach disappeared. The GBA version omits that. In the original, Yoshi calls the turtles monstrous. This is omitted in GBA, I guess the Koopas weren’t so big after all. The next line of dialogue in the original is spoken by Luigi and Mario nods in agreement. The GBA version makes this sound like normal narration and never mentions Mario or Luigi’s response to Yoshi. The Koopalings are called the “Krazy Koopa Kritters” but the GBA calls them “henchmen”. (Remember that the Koopalings is another thing that would be altered a bit in modern times) The GBA version ends there, but the original goes on to have Yoshi first introduce the Cape to Mario and the narration explains some game details involving exploration. The map and enemy list isn’t in the GBA manual but rather a separate foldout paper and of course the descriptions are changed. Let’s move on to that.

Characters/ Denizens in/of Dinosaur Land The SNES original has this in the manual under “Characters in Dinosaur Land”, the GBA remake has it in a separate mini poster titled “Denizens of Dinosaur Land” which also has the map on the backside. Interestingly, the enemy descriptions are rewritten.

Super Mario World Dinosaur Land map scan GBA

Super Mario World Dinosaur Land map scan SNES page 19

The Map of Dinosaur Land As mentioned before, the SNES manual has it on pages 19 and 20, but the GBA in smaller form factor is on a separate paper that folds out. This provides a nicer view to the original, however the descriptions of the locations vary between version. Provided are scans of the fold out on top and the SNES manual under. Notice how the GBA removes 'Kappa Mountain' yet adds 'Vanilla Heights'! Anyway-

The Game

Controls: The control scheme of the games differ so I’ll be brief. The GBA has less buttons so one shoulder button does the spin jump and the other scrolls the camera. Other than that the games don’t feel that different direct movement wise. The original calls it ‘Special Mario Controls’ but the GBA ‘Special Plumber Power’. Both have a chart of how power up affect Mario but only GBA shows how the damage works. This is a justified because in the original one hit turns you into small Mario regardless of what you had. The GBA is a little abridged in other areas, with no mention of Keyholes, Star road, or Switch Palaces, but it does cover additional items and blocks. Jumping board from SNES becomes Trampoline in GBA. Yoshi’s Wings make you ‘fly’ in SNES but ‘warp’ in GBA, which is more accurate actually. (These are referring to the yoshi wings that take you to a bonus area as opposed to the blue shell powerup kind). Switch blocks/ P-Switches are only mentioned turning blocks into coins in GBA whereas SNES mentions ‘objects’ which spoils the fact that silver variants transform enemies.

Multiplayer: The GBA version has the Mario Bros battle mini game like the Mario Advance games had. The SNES version has a two player mode for the main game where the player cycles between Mario and Luigi. The GBA lacks this but you can swap Mario or Luigi on the map screen.

Saving the game: Gets its own section because it’s pretty big. The SNES has a battery backup which is great, because without warps this game isn’t the shortest ever. Of course in the original you save by beating a fortress or a ghost house or a switch palace. You can replay the levels to save again but you cannot save otherwise. The GBA is a portable game and revamps this like other games in the Mario Advance series. You can save in the middle of a level (though you’ll start outside the level) or on the map anytime and reload anytime. When you remember that the GBA version gives you can extra hit as I’ll go into later (an aspect a lot of people skip when comparing the games) you can see how this trivializes what relatively mild difficulty SMW had in the first place..

Visuals and other things between the manuals: Because Luigi has his own characteristics, the GBA version has a short ‘Luigi Lore’ part. He controls very floaty now, but also affects how Yoshi behaves, coin blocks, fireballs, etc. They went out of their way for it to be more than just a palette swap so that's fine. His sprite differs but remember that this distinction actually came from the All-Stars rerelease of SMW. With all of that said, the sprites are still different! Source Over all the GBA is very bright and kind of ugly when played on a naturally backlit system. Sound quality also suffers. Overall though it's a decent enough port with extras that add to the game like the better save system and addition of a menu to keep up with secret exits and dragon coins.

Luigi sprite in Super Mario World, All-Stars, Super Mario Advance

More resources:

  1. The gamefaqs by 'The Original L5'
  2. TCRF: While this covers the Japanese and English SNES titles, some changes carried over to the GBA port years late
  3. The manual scans belong to me.