The Fitzgerald Scale – The Continued Joy of Super Mario World

Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo is one of those games that has been written about so many times that I’m unsure what more a schlemiel like myself can add to it from a critical perspective. It’s a genuinely timeless slice of 2D platforming that I’ve been playing since the 90s and will still boot up almost once a year even up to this day. I’m not sure if you could call it a revolutionary game in the genre or anything like that, but it was certainly an example of a sequel refining what had come before it to a level of near perfection thanks to more powerful hardware being available. Super Mario World may well be more a story of evolution than revolution, and in a lot of ways, it sums up what Nintendo is today.

Nintendo is a company that takes what has been successful before and attempts to squeeze even more out of it. Let’s face it, as a company Nintendo is far from being a virtuous purveyor of iconic intellectual property, but you can’t deny that their ability to continuously pump out quality first-party content with every console generation is next to unrivalled. Microsoft has quality first-party releases too, like Halo, and Sony has excellent series that it publishes internally, like Uncharted, but Nintendo are veritable world champions when it comes to pumping out “A class” first-party video games, with Super Mario World being the one that announced to the eager video game public that their fourth gen SNES console was something that deserved respect.

I would perhaps go as far to argue that Super Mario World is potentially the best 2D Mario game of all-time, even though more graphically impressive games have come out on the Wii and Wii U. There’s just something about the gameplay that works so well, with multiple routes out of certain levels encouraging you to explore every nook and cranny, whilst a slimmed down pallet of power-ups allows more focus to be placed on the ones that are included. There are no specialty power-ups like the Frog Suit and Hammer Suit like you would find in Super Mario Bros. 3, but the cape has multiple functions and capabilities, whilst the Starman and Fire Flower remain as a link to the series’ heritage.

Super Mario World essentially takes the best elements from the first and third games in the Mario series whilst adding some fourth gen sheen to create a bigger, better and more refined gaming experience. Plus, there’s also the little fact of the addition of Yoshi, giving Mario a loyal steed upon which to ride into battle and adding a completely different dynamic to the gameplay that wasn’t seen in the third gen Mario games. What’s amazing to me is how the charm of Super Mario World still hasn’t dissipated for me all these years after playing it. I get a similar feeling with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 over on SEGA’s fourth gen machine.

“Timeless” might be a word that is overused sometimes when it comes to video games, but I honestly think Super Mario World not only holds up from a gameplay perspective but from a visual and sound one as well. Everything when it comes to presentation just feels “right”, with the colourful graphics still oozing with character, and the music still being catchy as heck without the need to be of CD quality. Honestly, every member of the staff who worked hard on the gameplay and presentation aspects of Super Mario World deserves the warmest of pats on the back, because what they crafted has not only stood the test of time but will continue to do so for many more years to come.

I apologise if you were looking for more than just a gush-fest this week, but I so rarely get an excuse to just be happy about something, so I’m taking the chance whilst I can! When I picked up Super Mario World again with the intention of writing about it for a Retro Respawn article, I quickly realised that doing a full on critical appraisal would hardly lead to me covering any new ground. I would imagine most of you reading this will have played Super Mario World because it’s such a ubiquitous game that you can find almost everywhere. It’s been available in every form imaginable, and if you have a Nintendo Online Membership, you can play it on your Switch right now for no extra charge.

Super Mario World is a game where almost everything that can be said about it has been said already, so instead I’ll just spend the closing moments of this article imploring anyone who hasn’t played it before to finally give it a try. Getting your hands on a legal digital copy of the game is pretty darn easy if you own a Nintendo console with an online storefront, and it’s also on the SNES Classic that was released a few years back. It’s not like physical copies are hard to come by either as I found just the cart selling for a paltry 99p over on eBay, but if you’ve gone to the trouble of getting an actual SNES console, I’d be shocked if you didn’t have Super Mario World already. It’s a bonafide “system justifier” and still all kinds of fun all these years later. For goodness sake, go and play it!

The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”


Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave

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