Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island – how Nintendo made the ‘perfect’ sequel to the best platformer ever

There is a huge load of anticipation that comes with following up on a game like Super Mario World. Nintendo’s legendary platform game was released on the SNES in 1990 and has already been voted the best game of all time by readers of Retro Gamer magazine. Many would say it was as close to a perfect game as they could get, as it beautifully built on the already polished Mario platforming formula and added the benefits of 16-bit technology. It would be very difficult to elaborate on the formula, especially since delays to the Ultra 64 project meant that Nintendo was still tied to the 16-bit SNES. With player expectations guaranteed to skyrocket, was there any point in trying to create a traditional Mario sequel?

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It makes sense, but the Mushroom Kingdom is home to a lot of interesting characters, many of whom have also starred in spin-offs. What made Yoshi the chosen character over Wario, Luigi, or Peach? It dates back to the creation of the Super Mario World character, as we found out. “The idea for Yoshi came about because Mr. Miyamoto wanted Mario to ride a horse. We thought it would be better to have a new character than a horse, so Mr. Hino and I decided to create one,” Tezuka tells us. “Yoshi turned out to be a pretty cute character and we were really interested in doing some kind of spin-off with him – that’s where it all started.

This wasn’t Yoshi’s first leading role in a game, of course. Mario’s trusty steed has previously appeared as the headliner for three games, the puzzle games Mario & Yoshi and Yoshi’s Cookie and the Super Scope Blaster Yoshi’s Safari. But none of them were platform games, and Yoshi’s only appearance in a platform game so far had been
as a subcharacter. So while Yoshi had some established abilities, like his ability to grab enemies with his tongue and eat them, the team had a lot of freedom to decide on new abilities and a new playstyle that would provide a clean break. with traditional Mario games. .

That said, it wasn’t easy for the team to come up with these exciting new ideas; according to Hino, those things were quickly caught on when they came up. “I remember that Mr. Tezuka came out of the blue one morning and left us with an idea,” he says. “The development team was hungry for the seeds of an idea, so we ran it; we discussed them over and over again and turned them into something we could implement into the game’s gravity in a cartoonish way, as well as the “ground” jump attack that could be used to drive stakes into the ground, something Mario would later do adopt Yoshi also won
A variety of vehicle transformations are possible, including helicopters, cars, and submarines, but these can only be used in certain locations.

Teaching Yoshi to suck eggs

Super Mario World (1990) on the SNES is considered one of the best games of all time.

Takashi Tezuka, Nintendo

While the egg-throwing mechanic would be easy to implement in modern games thanks to the prevalence of dual analog sticks, pulling it off in Yoshi’s Island required some ingenuity. The development team managed to come up with an elegant solution that managed to compress the entire process into two button presses. Pressing the A button would reveal an aiming reticle that moved back and forth in an arc in front of Yoshi, while allowing him to run and jump freely.

Pressing the A button again would throw an egg in the direction you were currently pointing. It was Yoshi’s most difficult skill to master as a player, but it gave the game a unique feel among platformers. One of the other things that New Star allowed the Nintendo EAD team to do was adjust the difficulty of the game. “Unlike the Mario series, we tried to give the game a smoother, more relaxed pace, rather than making it a platform game that requires players to master complicated techniques,” says Tezuka. “So, for example, there’s no time limit on stages, and it’s a little easier to control Yoshi’s jumps because he jumps unlike Mario. As we added these little tweaks, we came up with the idea of ​​having exploration elements in the game and little by little the game took shape.

Why did Super Mario World 2 choose linearity over exploration?

Yoshi is now well established as a main character, but it was a bold move to promote him in Super Mario World 2.

Shigefumi Hino, Nintendo

“I don’t think we started out intending to reverse the roles,” reveals Hino. “Once we decided to make Yoshi the leader, we thought he might have something on his back and decided that Yoshi’s mission would be to wear something throughout the game. We wanted to add something more to the traditional side-scrolling gameplay of pushing players. to the right to complete an objective, so he needed Yoshi to carry something around the map fit right in. Yoshi’s original was a certain brave plumber’s mount, but why did Mario have to be a baby? Mario because that’s what he’s always done, but we turned Mario into a baby because it wouldn’t make sense for the game if Mario could walk on his own,” says Hino. “That setup was also a big help when writing the game’s story.”

This story began with a stork trying to deliver Baby Mario and Luigi to their parents, only to be attacked by Bowser’s henchman Kamek, a Magikoopa who could foresee the big trouble these brothers would cause their boss. While he successfully kidnapped baby Luigi, baby Mario got lost in the shuffle and
fell on Yoshi’s Island. With the instinctive bond that siblings have, Baby Mario was able to sense the location of his brother, and the Yoshis decided to take him away to save Baby Luigi and reunite them both with his parents. And for those of you unfamiliar with the game, that plural is not a typo. “One of the ideas that came out of creating the story, and one that really appealed to me, was that there are so many different Yoshis in the game,” says Tezuka. “Normally the main character is a singular character in the game world, so I personally thought the idea of ​​having different Yoshis working together and taking turns carrying Baby Mario through the game was really interesting.”

This storybook design fits well with the aesthetic of the game, sporting a hand-drawn coloring book style with pencil backgrounds. Although it was not the plan from the beginning, the idea of ​​being visually unique was one of the goals of the team. “We spent a lot of time trying to come up with a new and different look for the game. We tried many ideas and the most interesting was the one I drew as a last resort: a cloud that had a very rough scribbled look, says Hino.

“Everyone agreed it was perfect, so we decided to give the game a hand-drawing look. At the time, there were a lot of other beautiful graphics, and we wanted to differentiate our title from the ones that a lot of other kids were also watching. TV shows on looking for inspiration”.

Where does the “hand drawn” look come from?

Yoshi's Wooly World saw the iconic dinosaur recreated in yarn, and that handcrafted aesthetic started in Super Mario World 2.

What was so interesting about using the Super FX 2 chip?

Starfox used the Super FX chip in their game cartridge, which allowed the SNES to run rudimentary 3D visuals.

The Super Mario series is now synonymous with innovation, just like Super Mario Galaxy.

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