Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
Release Date: October 4, 1995
Platform Played On: SNES
2018 Placement: #22 (-3)
What It Is:
A sequel to Super Mario World that nobody, absolutely nobody, expected. Instead of yet another platformer where Mario and Luigi are the stars and you jump around collecting Fire Flower and Star power-ups, you get to play as Yoshis escorting a Baby Mario to safety. You turn into trains and helicopters, you shoot eggs at bad guys, and your health is measured in the seconds Baby Mario is knocked off your back every time you get hit. Also, it’s art design is a very unique, child-like hand drawn style that makes it visually distinct from all the previous Mario games (and most of the ones since, too).
The general gameplay is the same – go through individual levels in bigger worlds, and each world has a mini-boss and final boss. Yoshi plays the same way they did in Super Mario World, but their swallowing enemies whole schtick converts them into eggs for throwing at other enemies! Some levels have cool gimmicks, some levels have annoying gimmicks, but the game as a whole is a surprising masterpiece that, once you get used to the different art style, is an amazing spin on the Mario platformer formula.
Why It’s Important To Me:
I think this was the first game that taught me to not judge a book by its cover or a game by its graphics. I remember, as a ten year old snob, getting absolutely annoyed at the child-like drawing style of this game. I loved Super Mario World and the sprite work of Nintendo and Super Nintendo games, what was this weird kiddie crayon shit? I was flabbergasted at the choice and nearly wrote the entire game off simply because of the art direction.
But I didn’t and I’m so glad that I didn’t let myself fall down the art snobbery rabbit hole. The bosses in this game are some of my favorites across all games. Something I’ve never told anyone, but in my head I designed a sci-fi action movie script that has absolutely nothing to do with Yoshi’s Island, but the action sequences themselves are all based off of bosses from Yoshi’s Island. This game has inspired me to no end in terms of creativity due to how creative all the levels and enemy encounters are.
My Strongest Memory:
The final boss. Oh my god, it is absolutely my favorite Mario-related final boss and probably one of my top 5 favorite final bosses of all-time. It starts out with Baby Bowser (NOT Bowser Jr.) throwing a temper tantrum and kicking Kamek to the curb, then getting jealous of Baby Mario riding Yoshi and trying to jump on Yoshi’s back to take his place. (When he’s successful, he has the best shit-eating grin you’ve ever seen.) It’s a great first stage of a boss, especially because how you fight back against him is a context clue given by what happens when Baby Bowser misses his attacks. It’s so good.
But then. BUT THEN. When the first stage is over, Kamek comes back in and pulls a Rita Repulsa (which is what Kamek does for all the bosses in the game) and makes Baby Bowser grow. And the second stage of the fight is against fucking Kaiju Baby Bowser with the most epic Mario final boss theme in existence. Seeing giant-ass Baby Bowser slowly rise out of the background to the intro is a fucking moment, let me tell you. Goddamn I think that could have been the hypest video game moment a ten year old could ask for and it still gives me chills. If you don’t believe me: just watch this. God, it’s SO GOOD.
Why It’s #25:
Look, Mario is a staple in most gamers’ lives. Even if you were a Sega kid growing up, you knew who Mario was and probably played some game that Mario was in. There’s a reason these games became platformer classics. And I don’t care what anybody else says, Super Mario World 2 is the pinnacle of the 2D Mario platformers. It has substance AND style that makes it stand out from all the rest. Thanks Yoshi, you rock.